Lee: It’s been great from start to finish

Chesterfield FC players h/s. Tommy Lee
Chesterfield FC players h/s. Tommy Lee
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It all became clear for Tommy Lee during a torrential January evening in Kent.

Table-toppers Chesterfield FC had beaten Gillingham 2-0 and the victory made it plain to the highly-regarded keeper - who has just retained his player of the year crown for the second year - that his team could go on and win the League Two title.

For Lee it was his most memorable game of an exceptional, championship-winning season.

He said: “It was a Tuesday night and was teeming it down with rain but I made a couple of good saves and we defended well had a couple of efforts cleared off the line and I believed afterwards that we could go in and win the title.’’

Chesterfield claimed pole position in October but did not finally claim the championship until the final game of the season. Until it was achieved, the word ‘promotion’ was never mentioned in the corridors of power at the B2net, but the victory at Priestfield instilled an unshakable belief in Lee.

There were other matches that the Blues No 1 will never forget. He said: “The Rotherham game at home was amazing. There was a full house and it was shown live on TV. Everything clicked and we won 5-0.’’

The 2010/11 campaign has been fantastic for John Sheridan and his men and Lee has enjoyed the experience.

He said: “ This season has been absolutely brilliant. We started off on the right foot by moving to a new ground and we started playing winning football which which sparked off a feel-good factor.

“Gates just about doubled - it’s always easier to support your team when they are winning - but it’s been great from start to finish. And it was our just deserts when we picked up our title medals.’’

Success can only be achieved by a combination of factors, and Lee was quick to tip his hat to manager Sheridan for guiding the club adroitly to Division One.

He said: “The gaffer made some very good signings, players like Craig Davies and Danny Whitaker, and they slotted in right from the start.

“The gaffer likes to play attacking football and that puts bums in seats - it is what people want to watch.’’

Lee (25) started his career with a youngster at Manchester United before a loan move to Macclesfield Town was the prelude to him signing full-time at Moss Rose.

After two years with the Silkmen - which included an 11-game loan spell with Rochdale - Lee switched to Saltergate before the start of the 2008/09 season.

He has since made 130 appearances for the men in blue and was ever-present last term.

But now the 6ft 2in keeper finds himself out of contract but he remains hopeful that his future at the B2net can be sorted out swiftly.

He said: “I would love to stay with Chesterfield, I have been enjoying myself. I would like to sit down and get it all sorted within the next few days.

“Next season it will be a cracking league because it will contain three or four clubs from this area.

“We have done well and I’m confident that we can hold our own.’’

Lee is very proud that he has been the fans favourite for the last two seasons and was honoured to collect his Player of the Season award.

He said: “I was chuffed to get the award. It is great to be recognised by the fans. It is very nice.

“And to be voted for twice shows that I must be doing something right on the pitch. It’s important to have the fans behind us because they are the ones that pay our wages.

“The fans have been brilliant towards me from day one. They took to me right away.

“It is always nice to know that they are backing me. They have been brilliant for all the lads and it is nice to know that they are behind you.’’

Before returning for pre-season training in July, Lee has a well-deserved treat in store as he has tickets for the Glastonbury Festival next month.

He deserves to enjoy himself and I am sure I speak on behalf of every Chesterfield supporter when I wish him all the best for the 2011/12 season.