Anthony Gerrard returns to scene of incident with Spireites legend, explains what he'll bring to Chesterfield and touches on Oldham dispute
The last time Chesterfield new boy Anthony Gerrard appeared at the Proact he was sent off at half-time for an incident involving a Spireites legend.
As the whistle went for the interval of Oldham's visit in February 2017, Gerrard became involved in a heated discussion with Town defender Ian Evatt.
The confrontation carried on in the tunnel and Gerrard was given his second yellow card and a subsequent red.
After the game Gerrard predicted that Chesterfield would go on to be relegated from League One. He was proved right two months later.
Today he stood not far from the scene of that coming together with Evatt and held up a Town shirt for the obligatory transfer announcement photo.
Many Spireite supporters haven't forgotten that day but nor has their new centre-half.
When asked if any of his six previous battles against Chesterfield came to mind, he laughed.
"The one a couple of seasons ago," he said, referencing 10-man Oldham's 1-0 victory over his new club.
"Now I'm pulling on the Chesterfield shirt that's what you're going to get from me.
"I don't pull no punches, I don't shirk no challenges. I'm an honest lad. Every time I go on that pitch I'll be giving 100 per cent."
John Sheridan didn't sign him to throw any punches, but the manager does expect leadership and opinions from the 33-year-old.
A manager he played for at Oldham and Carlisle, the club's stature and their ambition to get promoted is what drew Gerrard to the Proact following his release by the Cumbrian side.
"I think it's been out of the Football League for a season too long so hopefully we can progress it, move it forward and bring some good times.
"(I like) the manager's honesty, he tells you exactly how it is. He likes to play football in the right way.
"He's just a nice man really. There's a lot of people in football you can take them or leave them, but Shez is one of the good guys."
READ: Sheridan backs Gerrard to be best centre-half in the National League.His career has taken him as high as the Championship, but it's a long time since he experienced life outside the Football League.
You have to go back as far as the 2004/05 season to find his last Conference action, when he played six times on loan for Accrington.
He's focusing on the size of the club and its fanbase, more than the level of competition.
"It's football," he said.
"There's one ball, 22 men on the pitch. It's just football.
"This is a project I want to get involved with.
"It's a massive club and I should imagine if we start winning games and doing well the fans will come flooding back in.
"It's down to us to bring them through the gates."
The past year hasn't been an easy one for the former Walsall, Cardiff and Huddersfield man.
He was sacked by Oldham for what they said was a 'racist comment' in a players' WhatsApp group.
The FA issued the defender with a letter of warning, warned him over his future conduct and instructed him to attend an education course.
In a December 2018 interview with the Cumbrian Star, Gerrard said the stress over the case had brought on alopecia and that he was starting a legal process, disputing Oldham's reasons for dismissing him.The issue clearly still rankles with him, but he appears keen to put it behind him.
"It's all resolved," he said today.
"I don't know what direction to take it in, myself personally. I could let sleeping dogs lie, or I could start my own little vendetta back, although I'd say it wouldn't be a vendetta, it would be justified.
"It is what it is, but that's been and gone.
"It was for non footballing reasons they decided to get me out the door."
It wasn't a write-off of a season, however.
He joined Sheridan at Carlisle and they flirted with the League Two play-offs, before Sheridan left to take over Chesterfield and Carlisle ended up missing out on a play-off finish by five points.
It's a spell the Liverpudlian recalls fondly.
"At Carlisle they took me in with open arms, I loved every single minute up there," he said.
"The fans were fantastic, it was just unfortunate we missed out on the play-offs."
The new chapter in his footballing life will begin in earnest in the next few days.
Players will return to pre-season on Friday and Monday and Gerrard is excited.
"I feel good.
"When you get back on the pitch, getting the balls out, getting your running shoes on, that's what it's about.
"Now it's a different challenge, a different set of goals."