Former Spireites striker Rodney Fern dies aged 69
Tributes have been paid to former Chesterfield striker Rodney Fern, who has died aged 69.
Fern joined the Spireites from Luton Town in 1975 having previously achieved legendary status at Leicester City where he began his career and also played in an FA Cup final.
He went on to score 54 goals in 152 appearances at Saltergate, being top scorer in three successive seasons having finally settled up front after initially being played on the wing.
He eventually moved on to Rotherham United where he again was a popular figure, before retiring in 1983.
Fern, who had been suffering from dementia in recent years, is fondly remembered by those who played with him and watched him in his time at Chesterfield.
Phil Tooley, a Spireites fan and former director who reports on the club for Peak FM, says Fern helped inspire his love for the club.
He said: "At first he was awful, played out on the wing and overshadowed by those around him.
"But once he was moved to centre-forward the Rodney we began to love came out of the shadows and into the spotlight of the glamour position. In 12 games at the end of 1975-76 he scored seven goals, including a brace in a comeback from 3-1 down to win a 4-3 cracker against Grimsby Town. Rodney had arrived, albeit a bit later than hoped for.
"Rodney was voted Player of the Year for 76-77 for his 18 goals and he’d firmly won his place in all Spireites' hearts. He will never be forgotten in these parts for being a great footballer, a great guy and the man that shaped me as a Spireite."
Former team-mate at Chesterfield, Phill Walker, tweeted: "So sad to hear that my former team mate and a person who taught me so much when I first played for Chesterfield, Rodney Fern, has died. A really kind man."
Fans also paid tribute, with Keith Johnson saying; "A great memory about Rodney Fern was he scored four goals in the Bury 7-0 win on 4th December 1976 on our ice-bound Saltergate pitch. There were 4,545 there to witness that. RIP Rod."
Fern leaves behind his wife, Linda; his daughter, Amanda, and three grandsons and a granddaughter.