COLUMN: Exit of three stalwarts brings an era to an end and will give Proact a new look
For a little while at least it will feel as though something is missing from the Proact Stadium.
Three pieces of furniture have been removed and although replacements may soon arrive, the new-look arrangement will take some getting used to.
Ian Evatt, Sam Hird and Drew Talbot have been the heartbeat of Chesterfield Football Club for a long time, albeit in two stints in the latter’s case.
They are men who know what it takes to win games and win trophies.
Between them, they’ve celebrated eight promotions and as Chesterfield players racked up almost 900 combined appearances.
They are leaders.
They’ve all worn the captain’s armband as Spireites and they’re the players dishing out the advice and rollickings in the heat of battle.
On the pitch, they’re players you can trust in and out of possession.
Given the ball, they’re more likely than not to make a good decision and execute their work with quality thanks to the technical ability that comes from some talent and a lot of hard work.
And without the ball, you can expect them to, firstly, be in the right position to defend and secondly, do so with all of their effort.
In training, we were told continuously by many, many observers, that they set high standards for themselves and others.
Away from the grass they’re the players you send out to the media, particularly after tough defeats, because you know they can handle it and they’ll represent the club well.
They’re all honest characters, who tell is like it is, which makes them ideal post match interviewees no matter the result.
Their experienced have given them the right to speak with some authority on the game and it was never a chore to grill them on Proact affairs.
Even in the face of departures that were, at least for Evatt and Talbot, unexpected and undesired, they remained professional and insightful.
Their absence will feel odd, for all concerned, for quite some time.
When the players troop down the Proact staircase into reception after their lunch, before the weekly press conference, those three won’t be among the group.
All three were the kind who would always acknowledge your presence and almost always have something to say.
Supporters appreciate characters, men who stand up for the badge on the pitch and make time for others off it.
That’s a big part of the outcry since the news broke that all three were to depart.
But in the words uttered by all three in their exit interviews with the Derbyshire Times...that’s football.
The game moves on, often at a ruthless pace.
In an ideal world, the Evatt, Hird and Talbot era would have come to a more fitting end, with a farewell lap of honour around the Proact pitch, everyone in the stadium forewarned that the end had come.
They, and their families, deserved a better goodbye, a chance to lap up the adulation and in turn express their gratitude and appreciation to fans who have, by and large, treated them well – or as well as any player can expect in the modern ‘what have you done for me today’ atmosphere.
In football you don’t always get what you deserve and at the respective ages of 36, 30 and 31, Evatt, Hird and Talbot are long enough in the tooth to know that.
They’ve served the club well, in good times and in bad but all things come to an end eventually.
A new manager is set to arrive and upon his advice, the club have brought the trio’s spell as Spireites to a stop.
There now exists a vacuum and an opportunity.
Three vacancies have opened up in the Chesterfield dressing room for big personalities, men who can lead the team and fill the very big boots left behind.
There are openings for new heroes, fan favourites who can bring smiles back to the faces in the stands.
Given time, encouragement and the right instruction, Laurence Maguire might grow into one of the roles.
We haven’t seen enough from others still under contract to be quite as optimistic on their prospects of doing the same, not yet anyway.S
If, as expected, Martin Allen is unveiled in the next 24 hours or so, he’ll know better than anyone the need to fill the void with men who can be trusted.
This squad needs fresh faces, new blood and new leaders.
It needs men capable of carrying a new era as well as Evatt, Hird and Talbot carried theirs.