COLUMN: Who are the heroes in the 2016/17 Chesterfield squad?
My two childhood footballing idols represented both sides of Glasgow's great divide.
As a young Rangers supporter in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was only ever going to be one face on the posters adorning my bedroom walls – that of Super Ally.
Ally McCoist scored a scarcely believable 355 goals for the The Teddy Bears, many of them crucial in Rangers’ glorious nine-in-a-row era of dominance.
Goalscorers, especially prolific ones, are often the most popular player at any football club.
And a man who scored one of the most important goals in the history of my ‘other’ team, my home town club Bangor, also became my hero.
Paul Byrne was a silky midfielder who signed for the Irish League’s Seasiders in 1991, from Arsenal.
Two years later he scored the only goal in Bangor’s Irish Cup final triumph over neighbours and bitter rivals Ards at Windsor Park, in a second replay no less.
I was an avid match-going Bangor supporter, taken to games by my dad before going alone as a teenager.
But despite having been there at Windsor, along with half of the town’s inhabitants, for both the final and the first replay, my dad’s job took him out of the country for the third encounter and I wasn’t there to witness Byrne’s half volley on the turn to win the cup with the last kick of the game.
No matter, the BBC Northern Ireland footage of Byrne’s heroics will live with me forever – it still would had the footage not ended up on YouTube.
Byrne, in a twist of footballing irony, was sold that summer to the one team I really didn’t want to sign him – Glasgow Celtic.
I wasn’t alone in having two teams, there were other kids in the playground who professed a love for an Irish League side and an equal passion for one of the English or Scottish giants.
And I don’t remember a single kid in the playground who didn’t have a player they pretended to be on a daily basis.
For Chesterfield fan Richard Cotterill, Mick Leonard and Dave Waller were the men he idolised.
Leonard made a fantastic penalty save one Tuesday night and earned a place in Cotterill’s affections.
For Waller, the ‘best ever’ goal against Halifax did the trick.
Richard is responsible for stoking up all kinds of Spireites nostalgia, having decided to try and draw each and every Chesterfield player since 1921 – badly.
His head and shoulders ‘mugshot’ drawings have created a real buzz among Town fans, because everyone wants to see their favourite player getting the Badly Drawn Spires treatment.
Not everyone loves the centre forward, there will be fans desperate to see a right-back from the 70s or a 50s half-back that for some reason, some goal or tackle, became a hero.
It begs the question, who are the heroes among the current crop of Spireites?
Who from Danny Wilson’s squad will do something to achieve God-like status in the eyes of a young Town fan and be remembered fondly for decades?
It seems unlikely that a winning goal in an EFL Trophy game against a Premier League Under 23 outfit will stick in the minds of many.
But should Chesterfield go all the way in that much maligned competition, there’s an opportunity to become the Spireites version of Paul Byrne.
If Wilson’s men can somehow sneak into the play-offs, the stage will be set for genuine heroics.
Equally, a match-winning contribution in a win-or-go-down scenario could turn a 2016/17 squad member into a club legend.
It might not be high up the pecking order in a footballer’s list of motives when he’s pulling on his boots before a game, but it should be.
We all have to do whatever we can to make an earning, footballers can’t be blamed for thinking of the financial consequences of their on-field actions.
But not all of us will do something to be remembered with great affection by thousands of others.
That’s an opportunity afforded to the players plying their trade at the Proact this season.
History will remember the facts, your number of appearances, your goalscoring tally, the fees paid and received for your services.
Only the memories of supporters can turn those facts into awe-inspiring sporting nostalgia.
A kid with a season ticket at the Proact won’t remember 2016/17 for off field disquiet, they’ll remember what players did on the pitch.
This football club is 150 years old and over 1,100 players have worn its colours in league action.
Richard Cotterill will do his level best to draw them all, but only the present day Chesterfield players can paint themselves as a hero.
The outpouring of love from fans of all ages to Ernie Moss shows that if they idolise you, they will be there for you.
That will surely inspire current Spireites to give everything they have to earn that kind of adulation.