Chesterfield FC legend Jamie Hewitt looks back on 1997 FA Cup quarter-final against Wrexham as they meet again in less glamorous qualifying round

Jamie Hewitt celebrating his dramatic late extra-time equaliser to make it 3-3 v Middlesbrough in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in 1997.
Jamie Hewitt celebrating his dramatic late extra-time equaliser to make it 3-3 v Middlesbrough in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in 1997.

"It was an iconic goal in Chesterfield FC history.”

As the tense, goalless FA Cup quarter-final between the Spireites and Wrexham, both of the Second Division, at a sold-out Saltergate in 1997, edged towards the hour mark, Chesterfield’s Andy Morris hooked the ball behind the away defence from the halfway line. Chris Beaumont gave chase, more in hope than expectation, as the Red Dragons’ Deryn Brace looked to have the situation under control. But Beaumont, not giving up, is rewarded for his endeavour when a mix-up between Brace and goalkeeper Andy Marriott, allows him to get in-between the pair and lob the ball into the net in front of the jubilant Kop.

“Oh what an atmosphere here now at Saltergate”, bellows the commentator, before adding: “John Duncan knows that Chesterfield are on the verge of probably the most famous day in their history.”

Twenty-two years on from that memorable clash the two teams will meet again in the FA Cup this Saturday (1pm) but this time in the less glamorous fourth qualifying round.

Spireites legend and Chesterfield-born Jamie Hewitt played in that 1-0 win over Wrexham, and of course struck the dramatic extra-time equaliser in the 3-3 semi-final draw with Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.

Hewitt, who now works for Ashgate Hospicecare, remembers the Wrexham game with great fondness.

Hewitt went on to be a physio at Chesterfield FC, pictured here with former Spireites player, Dan Gardner. Hewitt now works for Ashgate Hospicecare.

Hewitt went on to be a physio at Chesterfield FC, pictured here with former Spireites player, Dan Gardner. Hewitt now works for Ashgate Hospicecare.

“We had a poor FA Cup record, getting to the second and third round was a cup run for us,” he told the DT. “This cup run seemed different from the start.”

Town beat Bury and Scarborough in the first and second rounds respectively before seeing off Bristol City in the third.

Kevin Davies bagged a hat-trick against Bolton in the fourth round, followed by a giant-killing win against Premier League Nottingham Forest in the fifth.

Hewitt said: “Then obviously we were in the dizzy heights of the sixth round where Chesterfield had not been for a very long time and none of the players who we had, had never been that far in the cup so it was a big one.

“I remember we watched the draw. It was a little bit of an anti-climax at the time when Wrexham came out because we played them in the league, they were always tight games. But then when we sat and thought about it I think both clubs probably thought they had a really good chance of getting to the semi-finals.”

A crowd of 8,735 packed into Saltergate that day.

For Spireites fans, it was the game they dare not miss.

“The build up to the game was massive, especially around the town,” Hewitt said.

“The date was changed to a Sunday about lunchtime.

“It was live on BBC Wales and a lot of the Chesterfield fans who could not get tickets went over the border to watch the game.

“The games itself there were a few nerves hanging about.

“It was the one you really did not want to lose because if you lose to Wrexham in the sixth round people probably do not remember it as much.”

He added: “It was a very tight game. I think we were probably second best first-half.

“We did not really get going until the second-half when we were kicking towards the Kop. We managed to get on top and play a lot better.

“And then the goal came which was hooked on by Morris and Beaumont lifted it over the ‘keeper. It was an iconic goal in Chesterfield history.

“The crowd were on the pitch and then it was ‘recovery’ time in the pub. The celebrations went on into the night. I think we had a few days recovery time. I think we were recovering from a hangover mainly.

“To do what we did, with the players we had, I mean we had a good team, a close knit team, but to get the semi-finals of the FA Cup was a fantastic achievement for Chesterfield and I was very proud to be part of it.”

As we know, it ended in heartbreak for Chesterfield as they lost to Boro in the replay after the incredible 3-3 draw.

Chesterfield’s current plight is ‘sad’ says Hewitt, who has been to a few games this season.

This Saturday’s match will be worlds apart from the crackling atmosphere of that day in 1997 but Hewitt believes it should still be taken seriously.

“It is still a big game for the club,” he said. “I think a cup run would not be a hindrance at all for Chesterfield. I think the more games the better and more confidence it would bring and obviously bring some much needed revenue into the club.”

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