Chesterfield held special place in late, great Albert Phelan's heart
Chesterfield FC always held a special place in Albert Phelan's heart.
A week after the former Spireites great’s passing, son Nick said the club gave Phelan the fondest memory of his long career.
Phelan made almost 400 appearances for Chesterfield, and his name resides in 10th position on the list of all-time appearances.
He died at the age of 70, and his funeral will take place next Friday in Sheffield.
Chesterfield have paid tribute this week through their official media channels and will continue to mark a contribution to the club that began as an amateur in 1962 and lasted 12 years.
It was a mutually beneficial relationship, says his son.
“Chesterfield was always regarded as a special club by Albert. They gave him his opportunity to be a footballer and embark on a career doing something he was passionate about,” he said.
“He repaid this chance with loyalty and dedicated the majority of his playing career to a club he loved playing for.
“He always referred to Chesterfield as a friendly club and found great camaraderie amongst the players, staff and fans.”
Phelan made his first team debut in 1964, taking the place of the popular long-serving Dave Blakey.
There was no bitterness from the veteran however, who helped nurture the youngster who was taking his place.
And once established in the team, Phelan went on to have a long and fruitful Chesterfield career, winning the 1969/70 Fourth Division.
Nick said: “At the start of his career when he replaced the great Dave Blakey in the team, Albert recalled how supportive Dave was at the beginning and throughout his playing career.
“Albert acquired a number of trophies during his playing and coaching career, but the only one he was ever proud of was the Division Four promotion medal he won with Chesterfield.
“He was always a modest and private man but was proud of his playing career with Chesterfield and always looked back on his playing days with very fond memories.”
And the fondness is still reciprocated, after his death.
Nick said: “Upon hearing of Albert’s passing the club have made every effort to recognise and celebrate his achievements through the club media, the memorial garden and are proposing one minute’s applause before the game on Saturday.
“As a family we would like to thank Chesterfield FC for the special manner in which they have remembered Albert, demonstrating that they have remained a friendly and loyal club.”
The centre-half was known as a quiet man off the pitch and a classy, consistent performer on it.
He was sold to Halifax along with Ray McHale, in return for Terry Shanahan and £3,000 in October 1974.
From the Shay Phelan moved to Boston United where he became player-manager, leading them to a fourth place finish in the Alliance Premier League and the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.
He then went on to work for Sheffield Wednesday as a coach from 1987 to 2001, and took a young Owls side to the FA Youth Cup final in 1991.
A club statement from the Spireites said: “Chesterfield Football Club are saddened to hear of the loss of Spireites great Albert Phelan, who passed away last week.
“The funeral will take place at 2pm on Friday 6th May at Grenoside Crematorium, Sheffield, in the North Chapel.
“The club’s thoughts are with Albert Phelan’s friends and family at this time.”