In The Spotlight | Chesterfield FC

Chesterfield FC

In the first of our series looking at the new teams arriving in League Two this year, we profile last season’s National League champions, Chesterfield FC. 

The Spireites and Paul Cook are no strangers to the league, having topped the table twice in the last decade. After five years in the wilderness, the Derbyshire club will be looking to right those wrongs and re-establish itself as a major force in League Two. 

Here, we take a look at everything you need to know about Chesterfield ahead of the big kick-off on August 10. 

A Brief History 

Chesterfield FC

Chesterfield FC has a storied history dating back to 1863, with the first recorded version of the club playing against Norton clubs. In 1867, another team emerged as an offshoot of Chesterfield Cricket Club, followed by a third iteration later that year, making Saltergate its long-term home. The club went professional in 1891, renamed itself Chesterfield Town FC, and entered the FA Cup in 1892, but financial troubles led to liquidation in 1915.

Reformed in 1919, Chesterfield joined the Third Division North in 1921-22, won the league in 1930-31, and achieved its highest-ever league position, finishing fourth in the Second Division in 1946-47. Relegations followed, with the club becoming a founding member of the Third Division in 1958-59 and dropping to the Fourth Division in 1961. They won the Fourth Division in 1969-70 and spent the 70s in the Third Division.

The 1980s saw Chesterfield win the Anglo-Scottish Cup in 1981 but face relegation in 1983-84. They rebounded by winning the Fourth Division in 1984-85, only to encounter financial difficulties and relegation in 1988-89. Promotion was achieved via the play-offs in 1994-95, and a memorable FA Cup semi-final run occurred in 1996-97.

The 2000s brought more relegations, in 2000 and 2006-07, amid financial woes. Moving to the SMH Group Stadium in 2009-10, Chesterfield won the league in their first season at the new ground and the Football League Trophy in 2012. However, relegation soon followed. Paul Cook’s arrival led to another League Two title in 2013-14 and a near promotion in 2014-15.

Consecutive relegations in 2016-17 and 2017-18 saw the club drop to Non-League. Chesterfield narrowly missed promotion in 2023 but finally returned to League Two by winning the National League with 98 points last year. 

Key Players 

Paddy Madden

Chesterfield have been extremely busy securing some big-name signings during the summer transfer window. They aim to build on the momentum of last season’s National League winning campaign and make an instant impact in League Two. 

Their first big summer signing was Paddy Madden, a League Two winner last year with Stockport County. The Dublin-born striker requires little introduction to Newport fans, with him bagging a last-minute winner for The Hatters against us at Edgeley Park last season. 

Madden has been prolific at this level throughout his career, scoring 57 goals for Stockport over his three seasons at the club, two of which were in League Two. 

Another veteran striker at Chesterfield who will be a key figure this season is Will Grigg. The former Wigan and Sunderland man, with his wealth of experience, bagged 25 goals in the National League last season, finishing as the division’s second-highest scorer. 

The Spireites also grabbed headlines this summer when they completed the signing of former Shrewsbury skipper Chey Dunkley. Dunkley turned down a contract offer from the League One team to reunite with his former Wigan boss, Paul Cook, at Chesterfield. Dunkley was instrumental in keeping Salop in League One last year and will cause plenty of problems for strikers in League Two this season. 

Who’s the boss?

Paul Cook

Paul Cook is the man in the dugout for Chesterfield, and he is a man who needs little introduction to League Two football. Cook won the league with Chesterfield back in the 2013-14 season before leaving them to go to Portsmouth. He would then repeat the feat at Fratton Park, getting Pompey out of the division as champions in 2016-17. 

Cook then stepped up to League One with Wigan and lifted his third league title in five seasons, guiding the Latics to promotion to the Championship. He would then head to Ipswich in 2021, where he struggled to find form. 

He returned to Chesterfield in 2022 and immediately turned the club’s fortunes around. After dramatically losing the play-off final at the end of his first campaign, he would seal promotion at the second time of asking, winning the league on 98 points and returning the Spireites to the Football League for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign. 

The Stadium

Chesterfield FC

Chesterfield play their games at the SMH Group Stadium. The stadium’s capacity is just over 10,000, and they have been playing there since leaving Saltergate at the end of the 2009-10 season. 

The Spireites were the best-supported team in the National League last season, with an average gate of 7,893 cheering them onto the title. 

Head-to-Head Record 

Newport vs Chesterfield

Newport and Chesterfield have an extremely tight head-to-head record. We first clashed with The Spireites in 1946 in a losing effort at Saltergate. 

In the years since we have played each other an additional 37 times. The Spireites are just ahead, with the Derbyshire-based team winning 20 of our overall encounters and us winning 16. Only two games between us have ended in a draw, with the last time being a 1-1 draw in April 2014. 

Last time out 

Frank Nouble

The last time we faced Chesterfield was actually The Spireite's final home league game before their relegation to the National League in May 2018. 

The club already had relegation confirmed, but they were able to go down fighting, securing a 1-0 victory over us thanks to a Kristian Dennis header from a Louis Dodds cross. 

Re-watch the clash HERE. 

The last time we welcomed Chesterfield to Rodney Parade was at the start of that season. We walked away comfortable 4-1 winners, with a Frank Nouble hat trick and a late goal from Padraig Amond wiping out a Chris O’Grady goal in the first half.  

Re-visit our clash with Chesterfield now.