Chesterfield win National League title and are promoted to Football League

Chesterfield have won the National League title and have been promoted to the Football League.
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The Spireites only needed a point to secure top spot and promotion and they went one better by beating Boreham Wood 3-0.

Captain Jamie Grimes headed in Liam Mandeville’s corner on 28 minutes which lifted the roof off all four sides of a sold-out SMH Group Stadium.

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And they doubled their lead 30 seconds into the second-half when Mandeville finished Armando Dobra’s cross from six-yards.

Jamie Grimes headed Chesterfield in front. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)Jamie Grimes headed Chesterfield in front. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Jamie Grimes headed Chesterfield in front. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

Grimes grabbed his second on 67 minutes, tapping in from less than a yard out after superb work by Dobra, which was their 100th league goal of the season. And that was the signal for the promotion party to start.

The victory meant that second-placed Barnet could not catch them, with the Blues 21 points clear at the top.

The full-time whistle was met by a huge pitch invasion and jubilant scenes as the players were mobbed ahead of the trophy lift.

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The Blues have sealed their return to the Football League after six seasons in non-league. They fell out of the Football League in 2018 for the first time in nearly 100 years.

They have finally got over the line after losing in the play-offs in the last three seasons, including a painful defeat on penalties to Notts County at Wembley a year ago.

The league title is Paul Cook’s fourth of his managerial career and his second at the Spireites, after winning League Two 10 years ago in 2014.

They have been by far the best side in the division, topping the league since September 16. The style of football they have played is some of the best the fifth-tier has ever seen and several club records have been broken. ‘Putting on a show’ has been the fans’ soundtrack of the season and that has certainly been the case.

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The supporters have turned out in great numbers this season, with their average home crowd of 7,500 better than when they were in League One. It has been a rough few years so their long-suffering fan-base will be enjoying every moment.

There have been plenty of dark days in non-league, from apathy from supporters towards former owner Dave Allen, to surviving relegation to the National League North by the skin of their teeth in 2020, which many believe would have been the end of the club, to suffering some embarrassing defeats to part-time teams.

Allen sold the club to the community trust in summer 2020 when it was about a week away from going under. Two Chesterfield brothers, Phil and Ashley Kirk, who are lifelong supporters, this month got approval to become the majority owners, owning 80%, with the trust still maintaining a 15% stake.

On Saturday, Chesterfield had the first chance of the game on 10 minutes but Nathan Ashmore, who has had some brilliant performances against the Spireites over the years, saved with his legs from the lively Michael Jacobs.

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Three minutes later, Ashmore’s opposite number Harry Tyrer was forced to parry behind after former Spireite Tom Whelan tried his luck with a long-range free-kick.

Town have had so much success with set-pieces this season so it was fitting that captain Grimes, who was in tears after last year’s Wembley’s heartache, headed in from Mandeville’s corner just before the half-hour mark to give the hosts the lead they craved.

Dobra had been bright and he tested Ashmore as the half drew to a close, while Tyrer was also called into action to save from Lee Ndlovu just before referee Steven Copeland blew up.

Overall, it had been a half of few chances, but Chesterfield had been excellent in winning their duels, pressing from the front and turning the Boreham defence, while also being patient in the final third. They had kept former Spireite Kabongo Tshimanga, who came in for some stick from the Kop, quiet.

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Town made the perfect start to the second-half when Dobra drove into the box and crossed low for Mandeville to finish from six-yards. That settled any nerves and gave them some breathing space.

Ndlovu had a chance to halve the deficit moments later but he struck well over, while Jeff King almost added a third with a stunning long-range strike which whistled just wide.

And it was game over and party time with just over 20 minutes remaining when Grimes tapped in from virtually on the line after great work by Dobra.

That goal meant that everyone could relax and the Spireites fans certainly enjoyed the remainder of the game, and who could blame them. It’s been a long road back.

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Chesterfield fans can now look forward to a bright future on and off the pitch. They are sailing back to the Football League. There have been stormy waters. They are home again.

Chesterfield: Tyrer; King, Palmer, Grimes, Horton; Jones, Naylor; Mandeville (Berry, 70), Jacobs, Dobra (Banks, 75); Quigley (Curtis, 83)

Unused subs: Williams, Oldaker.