A story of misery and heartbreak: What’s happened to Chesterfield FC?
The date is Saturday, October 4, 2014.
Chesterfield have just beaten Sheffield United 3-2 at the Proact in front of a crowd of 9,723.
The win moved Town, under then manager Paul Cook, up to sixth in League One.
The Blues played some wonderful football that season, with players such as Sam Clucas, Sam Morsy, Gary Roberts and Eoin Doyle.
They deservedly went on to finish in the play-offs, but missed out on a place in the Championship after losing to Preston North End in the semi-finals.
Fast forward five years and Sheffield United are excelling in the Premier League under Chris Wilder.
So what has happened to the Spireites?
It is a story of misery and heartbreak
Supporters of other clubs will argue but you will not find a more depressed fanbase than those at 1866 Sheffield Road at the moment.
Social media comments such as ‘RIP’ and ‘Turn off the lights’ are the norm these days.
Chesterfield are currently second bottom of the National League and are four points from safety.
They have gone eight matches without a win and have lost five consecutive home games.
The five home losses in a row is the joint worst run of its kind, matching that of 2005/06.
On Saturday a crowd of just 931, including 336 from Notts County, watched their FA Trophy defeat.
The attendance was the lowest ever for a competitive first-team match at the Proact since the club moved into the stadium in 2010.
Only two competitive first-team home games in the last 100 years have attracted fewer fans.
How did all this happen?
After the play-off loss to Preston, Cook left to join Portsmouth, who were then in League Two.
The Spireites are now on their sixth permanent manager since ‘Cookie’ departed (Dean Saunders, Danny Wilson, Gary Caldwell, Jack Lester, Martin Allen and John Sheridan).
As well as Cook, a number of key players were sold and were not replaced with the same quality.
After finishishing 18th in League One the following season after the play-off heartache, Chesterfield suffered back-to-back relegations out of the Football League.
Non-league football for the first time since 1921, unthinkable for a club which reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1997.
And this all happened alongside a number of PR disasters, which included faking the winner of a raffle to win a place at the club’s pre-season training camp in Hungary.
What’s the current picture looking like?
Pretty grim, to be honest.
Boss Sheridan left League Two Carlisle United last January for a second spell at the Proact.
After saving them from relegation from the National League last season, there were high hopes for this campaign.
But with one of the biggest budgets in the division, they have only won five matches all season.
Sheridan himself has admitted he should have been sacked weeks ago.
What about off the field?
Owner Dave Allen is trying to find a buyer for the club.
There has been some interest, the latest being from Chesterfield FC Community Trust, a registered charity which works alongside the club but is separate from it.
The possible takeover holds all the cards at the moment.
The key question being; Will Mr Allen sack Sheridan or wait for the new owners to make that decision and pay the costs?
But what if a takeover does not happen, can Chesterfield afford to risk falling any further behind the teams at the bottom?
Or, given a little bit more time, will Sheridan turn it around?
Can Chesterfield be relegated to the National League North? As it stands, absolutely.
If ever a fanbase deserved a break, it’s this one.