I think we can all find some common ground in thinking that our beloved Chesterfield FC have put us through our paces on every level so far this season.
From ecstatic first-game-of-the-season victories and pulsating performances, to bitter last-minute defeats and showings that shall remain nameless; we’ve had it all so far.
And with only 16 matches been and gone, there’s plenty more where that came from.
Before this unpredictable season began, I assessed the appointment of new manager Dean Saunders, and from the tree of knowledge I plucked the moral value of giving someone a chance instead of showing him the door at the earliest opportunity. To an extent, I feel as if I was certainly right in doing so. High-calibre players such as Lee Novak, Ángel and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (although his fitness is questionable), as well as new loan signing Richard Wood who arrived a week ago, have proven that Saunders did not want to settle for a fight against relegation, which is what a handful of supporters predicted.
Ángel’s injury was poorly timed, and was disheartening as his new partnership with Morsy looked extremely promising and impressive.
Nevertheless, we hope that his recovery sees him return to his usual self on the pitch.
Keeping key players was never going to be a walk in the park. In fact, simply seeing Sam Clucas and Tendayi Darikwa walk around on the Proact turf brought eyes from Hull City and Burnley to attention.
A seven figure fee for Clucas, and a sum possibly around the half-a-million mark for Darikwa both proved to be good business for the club, although two big talents in the dressing room were lost.
With Ryan and Roberts also gone, the gaping hole in Saunders’ new side was always going to be a huge challenge to fill with the right players.
Nevertheless, Saunders made do and, as well as bringing in the said players, he gave Dan Gardner his opportunity to step up and take his place in the first team.
Although the general opinion of him was not appealing before the Barnsley game, he proved us all wrong in providing some exquisite performances, including a brace at former club Crewe Alexandra.
Gboly Ariyibi has also been given some chances, however Jay O’Shea and Lee Novak have been higher in the pecking order so far. E
banks-Blake and Novak looked the dangerous strike partnership fans so desperately desired, and although shaky at times, performances from the back four have been in the limelight on numerous occasions.
But where did it all begin to fall apart?
After a pleasing start, that being three wins in the first five games including an impressive performance at the New Den, September held nothing but woe for supporters, and understandably fans became restless and wanted change to come whisking round the corner soon.
The second month of the footballing season was one of the worst periods of form witnessed by Chesterfield fans over the past few seasons, as the Spireites gave away a worrying ten points, eight from winning positions, in five league games.
Fitness could have been to blame, and with popular fitness coach and all-round good guy Shane Nicholson out of the picture, his replacement Mal Purchase was arguably to question for not maintaining the high standards of match fitness that lay in Nicholson’s wake.
However, ‘Town’ turned a corner, and have now won four from their last six.
Before October, the football was not attractive, but somehow that changed and we have seen performances that we would recognise from last season. One particular highlight would be the hard-fought 2-1 victory at the Banks’s Stadium against top-of-the-league Walsall, but my personal favourite was, in fact, the 3-0 victory at home to Southend. The Shrimpers proved to be tough opponents and were in hot form before visiting the Proact Stadium.
To control the game and dismiss the in-form side was impressive and at the same time warming to see.
So perhaps the Spireites aren’t a sinking ship after all? Inconsistent in results (e.g. the recent Scunthorpe result), yes, but nowhere near relegation form at this time.
Need I say no more after mentioning that this is the first time that the Blues have won five away games before November since Nicky Law’s reign at Saltergate over ten years ago.
Along with the negatives of this season, there are plenty of positives to pass around, and thus fans should remain optimistic in believing that the relit spark in the heart of this side will drive our beloved team, and make them want a top-six spot just that little bit more than those around them. And if dreams of another promotion-chasing season come true, then the Spireites steamship will truly be sailing home again.
Besides, Winston Churchill once said: “never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about”. Why not dream big?