COLUMN: To protest or not to protest? That is the question facing Town fans

Chesterfield fans think they have scored but the goal is ruled out for offside: Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Skybet League One match Carlisle United -V- Chesterfield  at Brunton Park, Carlisle, Cumbria, England on copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229
Chesterfield fans think they have scored but the goal is ruled out for offside: Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Skybet League One match Carlisle United -V- Chesterfield at Brunton Park, Carlisle, Cumbria, England on copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229

To protest or not to protest? That is the question facing Spireites supporters ahead of Saturday’s game.

Last weekend’s trip to Carlisle brought not only a sustained spell of anti-board chanting from a large group of Town fans, but a confrontation between supporters and club director Ashley Carson at the train station after the match.

And this week, in the aftermath of a fourth straight defeat, many Spireites are, for the first time, debating whether or not to make their anger known in some form of organised protest, either at or before the Swindon Town clash at the Proact.

There was, in the not so distant past, a singular display of displeasure from a small band of Town fans with a home-made sign calling into question the running of the club.

But most match-goers that day appeared to greet the mini-protest with bemusement.

Now, the numbers involved in any potential show of disapproval for the board and the club’s current situation, would be much, much more significant.

It’s taken the club to flirt outrageously with relegation to non-league for this to come about.

In some ways, that’s surprising.

Other clubs, playing at a higher level, have been hit by protests from their own fans in the past for poor financial performance, or because of a breakdown in the trust that exists between those in the stands and those in the boardroom.

Some might have expected the miserable 2016/17 season to have sparked some dissent, beyond the regular booing heard at full-time whistles.

Perhaps the lack of voice, the absence of a supporters club, trust or society is the reason why Town fans haven’t yet expressed their collective angst at the alarming decline suffered by their club.

There was, on 26th November 2016, a sparsely attended public meeting at the Victoria Club where intentions to revive the Supporters Society were voiced.

Over a year has passed and the organisation that saved the club back in 2001 remains dormant.

From the outside looking in, it may appear that the unhappy times that have followed Paul Cook’s 2015 departure have simply knocked the fight out of the fans.

Supporters at other clubs might question the lack of action up to this point.

But there’s a reason why protests are being debated and not unanimously approved.

There’s a delicate balance to be struck at this moment, due to the club’s perilous position in League Two.

That run of four defeats could already have sapped the confidence of some of Jack Lester’s players, and the sight or sound of supporters in revolt might do little to lift the heads of the men tasked with winning enough games to secure safety.

Being part of the problem, and not part of the solution, is a genuine concern for some.

Lester’s presence is another big consideration, such is the esteem in which he’s held by the fanbase.

Many Spireites would be aghast at the thought that their protests would upset or disturb their hero, in his quest to save the club from the drop.

The aims and possible outcomes of any protest form part of the discussion – what would fans hope to achieve? Are the powers that be going to up sticks and leave because some angry songs were sung?

In any case, with Ashley Carson out of the country for a fortnight and Dave Allen an absentee owner on matchdays for over a year, would the subjects of any chants ever come to hear them?

It’s easy to pose those questions, it’s not easy to suggest a way in which Town fans can soothe the helplessness they feel when they look at the league table, or the club’s recent financial results.

Some have suggested they make their feelings known before kick-off, then at 3pm get behind the team.

There are those who already stay away from games to show how they feel.

Whatever Town fans decide to do on Saturday afternoon, or at any game between now and the end of the season, only they can look themselves in the mirror and proclaim that they’re acting in the good of the club.

They’ve proved in the past they can be trusted with the club’s very existence, they’ve earned the right to make this decision for themselves.