Chesterfield legends pay tribute to Ernie Moss after flocking back to Proact
The fans and former players of Chesterfield FC flocked to the Proact on Sunday to prove that football still looks after its own.
A softer side to the game was on display during an afternoon that celebrated one of the club’s greats – Ernie Moss.
The Spireites’ record goalscorer, now 66, suffers from Pick’s Disease, a rare form of dementia.
But he was back at the ground of the club for whom he netted 162 league goals to lead out two teams for a match in his honour.
A Chesterfield Legends side, managed by Neil Warnock and John Duncan, took on a team of celebrities representing the Once Upon a Smile charity.
And the West Stand was packed with supporters and well wishers as Moss walked out onto the pitch flanked by daughters Sarah and Nikki, receving a standing ovation and hearing his name chanted once more by the Spireites faithful.
The game was a surprisingly fiesty affair, Waterloo Road’s George Sampson limping off early on after a rash tackle.
There was plenty of nostalgia for Chesterfield fans, club legends like Jack Lester and Andy Morris leading the attack while Steve Ogrizovic showed decent reflexes for a 58-year-old keeper.
The Once Upon a Smile team took victory 6-4 but the biggest cheer went to Lester who bagged a goal after squandering several chances.
And particularly impressive throughout was Tom Curtis, the former Spireite still in great shape at 43.
He told the Derbyshire Times it was good to be back.
“It’s always nice to come back and play for Chesterfield.
“It’s always been my team, I played here for just over seven years. I started off as a Derby fan but not anymore, I’m a Chesterfield fan.
“We all enjoyed playing together, even if we aren’t particularly great anymore.
“It’s really nice to see everyone supporting Ernie, all the ex players, managers, fantastic that everyone comes and contributes.”
For Lester even the half-time teamn talk was nostalgic.
“It was tough, Neil Warnock gave me a bit of a hammering at half-time – nothing changes,” he said.
The fan favourite was delighted to see so many out in support of a fellow goalscorer.
“He’s a club legend and record scorer but he’s a really, really genuine guy, I’ve met him numerous occasions and always had a lot of time for me. It’s a pleasure to know him.
“It’s a sad thing that he’s going through and it’s nice everyone comes to support him and his family.
“People who play football are human and get together when someone is struggling, it’s nice.”
Lester’s strike partner in the first half on Sunday was the man who scored Chesterfield’s first goal against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup semi-final.
Morris said Moss featured on his very first day as a Spireite.
“Ernie’s a great guy, I’ve known him since my first day here. Even though he wasn’t in the squad he was still coming to train at Chesterfield when I first started in 1988.
“The first training session I had was at Brookfield School with Jim Brown and all that lot, that’s showing my age a bit isn’t it?
“I’ve done lots of things with Ernie before, and even though my legs are dying now it was the easiest decision ever to come along.
“It’s been nice, it’s been quite a long time since I played properly – I suppose some people will say I never played properly – but it’s all for a good cause.
“The crowd have been fantastic and Ernie was here to see it, which is the main thing.”
Another former Spireite delighting the crowd was Bob Newton, who was modest in his assessement of his own performance on Sunday: “I was fantastic.”
Newton knew Moss well having partnered him up front at both Chesterfield and Port Vale.
“I played up front with Ernie and won two promotions – he was fantastic to play up front with, fantastic lad, good professional.
“Only trouble I had was keeping him out of Aquarius when I went home early,” quipped the cult hero and hometown man.
“We had a great time together at Chesterfield and Port Vale – I ended up being top scorer both times but to be quite honest Ernie contributed to that.
“We had a great strike partnership, he was immense in the changing room, you used to look at the number eight ready to go and it was a great feeling.
“Nostalgia is great, memories are great and it’s all for people with dementia. Let’s hope we can help towards eradicating this terrible, terrible disease.”
The match was organised by former Chesterfield player Phil Walker, Richard Davis from Once Upon a Smile, the Spireites and Team Ernie, including Moss’ daughter Nikki.
She called it an ‘overwhelming’ afternoon and paid tribute to Chesterfield fans for making it so special.
“It’s something we will never forget as a family,” she said.
“The most poignant moment for me was standing in the tunnel, dad was squeezing mine and my sister Sarah’s hands with our kids behind us and both teams with 60 mascots, and the fans chanting his name.
“When we walked out there was a standing ovation, the response from the fans was amazing.
“I can’t thank everyone enough.
“Dad had a fantastic time, he was smiling the whole time and signing autographs.”