SPIREITES RETRO: Wycombe defeat signals end of John Duncan’s time as manager

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It is just before half-time (or, more likely, the clock is broken) and Jon Howard attempts to force past an opponent that has a handful of his shirt in the Spireites’ game at home to Wycombe in April 2000, writes Chesterfield historian Stuart Basson.

A gate that numbered just 2,081 had come to watch a team that had won a mere five league games out of 39 all season.

David Reeves gave the Blues the lead from the penalty spot in the 27th minute, having missed a similar opportunity earlier in the game.

Wycombe equalised five minutes into the second half before taking the lead six minutes after the 70th-minute dismissal of midfielder Dave Carroll for using abusive language to a match official.

The match turned out to be the last in charge for manager John Duncan. Within days of this 2-1 defeat new chairman Darren Brown, who had bought the club from Norton Lea on March 30, swung the axe, and the man who had guided the club to play-off win, an FA Cup semi and three respectable third-tier finishes was on his way.

Brown’s choice as caretaker manager, initially, was the club’s community officer, Nicky Law.

Relegation had long since been accepted by all but the most commendably optimistic Town fans, but the disaffected majority were encouraged by the end of the old regime and the new “can do” spirit that seemed set to blow through the narrow Saltergate corridors.