Trips to Wembley are bound to evoke memories of 1997 and the most famous (or infamous) moment in Chesterfield FC’s history, writes Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.
As a third division side, who had already knocked out six clubs including Premier League Nottingham Forest, we were cruelly denied a trip to Wembley for an historic FA Cup final by an assistant referee’s dodgy vision.
Many of us who travelled back from Old Trafford that day expected it to herald a brighter future for the club, but Darren Brown, Jason Lee and others saw it prove to be a false dawn and there have been as many downs as ups since.
But when your club has teetered on the brink of oblivion it’s hard to deny that the last four years have been in relative terms, more feast than famine. From the title winning season in 2010/11, to the disappointment of relegation with the Wembley final as a consolation prize the following year, and after the underwhelming season last year, this year promises much as Town enter the final two months.
Wembley appearances are more common place than they once were, but the excitement generated by the Johnstone’s Paint Final was demonstrated as 5,000 tickets (a quarter of the allocation) were sold on the first day alone.
Of course Chesterfield go into the game as huge underdogs. Peterborough are a league higher, are managed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s son and in Britt Assombalonga they have a striker who cost over a million pounds.
The Spireites’ main focus must remain promotion after some recent slip-ups, but come 2pm on Sunday every Spireite will have eyes only for the JPT. I’m hopeful that the Spireites will not only do the business on Sunday but that this will prove a springboard for us to go on to lift the league title this season as well.
An historic double season would be a fitting reward for the loyal fans who have travelled in big numbers up and down the country in recent years.
Win or lose, I’ll be one of the 20,000 shouting them on. COYB!