'I loved every minute' - departing Chesterfield defender reflects on time at Spireites

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Bailey Clements ‘loved every minute’ of his time at Chesterfield.

The left-back has left the Spireites after two seasons in which he played at Wembley and won the National League title.

The 23-year-old has not been offered a new contract but he has nothing but good memories from his time at the club.

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He told the DT: “It was definitely a positive two years for me I feel. Obviously I would have liked to have played a few more games. I would like to think I did alright when I played but that is not necessarily for me to say. I would like to think I have given my all when I have played. I have really enjoyed my two years. I loved every minute of it.”

Bailey Clements helped Chesterfield win the National League title.Bailey Clements helped Chesterfield win the National League title.
Bailey Clements helped Chesterfield win the National League title.

Clements signed on a free transfer from Ipswich Town, following Paul Cook who gave him his opportunity at Portman Road. By chance, his girlfriend had family living in Chesterfield so he had no problems settling in.

“It was a bit of a coincidence,” he explained. “When the gaffer took the job and I was still at Ipswich I was like ‘oh, it would be funny if I ended up there’ and a few months later that’s what happened! It helped me having people there that I knew and who I knew would look after me to help me settle in. And then I moved in with Dobs into a flat. I settled in quickly, it was really good.”

The club announced his arrival with him holding up a Spireites scarf in the big Tesco near the stadium, which played on the joke that fans ‘spot’ new signings in the huge supermarket all the time. The gag went viral and even made some tabloids.

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Clements laughed: "There is kind of a similar joke in Ipswich in Tesco but it is obviously not as big as what it is in Chesterfield. It was a good interaction and hopefully it went down well.”

Clements' signing was announced in Tesco in Chesterfield.Clements' signing was announced in Tesco in Chesterfield.
Clements' signing was announced in Tesco in Chesterfield.

The defender knew that the National League was a good standard because his brother Kyran had been playing for Braintree Town in the National League South.

Throughout his time at the Blues, Clements and Branden Horton provided healthy competition for each other for the left-back position.

"Over the two years I think we have grown a really good relationship and it was nice competing with him knowing that we both wanted to push each other to be better,” he said.

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Despite the result, playing at Wembley in the play-off final against Notts County at the end of his first season is something he will always remember.

He said: "I think we definitely deserved to win. Coming so close at the end of normal time and then so close at the end of extra-time it was just gutting. On the flip side, taking away not winning, getting the chance to play at Wembley isn’t something that everyone gets to do. The atmosphere on the day, the actual moment of the day, was probably one of the highlights of my time at the club. I had my family there, when I came out of the tunnel, I looked up and saw them all there, I couldn’t feel any prouder of myself of what I had achieved for them. It was just gutting that we couldn’t get the win to make it an even more special day.”

Sadly, the following pre-season, Clements suffered a thigh injury just a couple of days before the last friendly against Bristol Rovers. Up until that point, he had probably been in pole position to make the starting line-up but instead he was ruled out for the first 12 games.

Asked if he thought things might have been different had he not got injured, he replied: "Personally, yes I do. I feel I had a really strong pre-season. If you go off the games against the three higher clubs that we played I felt I handled myself in all three of them in the minutes I got. I was looking forward to the start of the season and the injury set me right back to the beginning. I was gutted. I definitely felt I had done enough in pre-season to earn the starting spot at the start of the season and then when it gets ripped away from you from an uncontrollable event it is definitely harder to take. If it was something controlled by me you can understand it a bit more. But when it happened, all the hard work I had done in pre-season, I may as well have not done ultimately.”

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With Chesterfield flying in the league, Clements was loaned out to Eastleigh at the end of September. He really enjoyed his time at the Spitfires, who agonisingly missed out on a chance to play Manchester United in the FA Cup. He was recalled in January, playing 90 minutes in each of the wins against Southend United, Eastleigh and Dagenham and Redbridge.

Although he didn't play in the title-winning match against Boreham Wood, it is a day he will never forget.

"It was unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t think you get a better feeling than that. It was such a good feeling. The whole feeling around the town, you could feel how much it meant to everybody to be back into the Football League.”

With his contract coming to an end, Clements was determined to show Cook what he could do, but unfortunately the club has opted to let him go.

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“I knew once he had called me back I needed to prove to him that I was worthy of getting back into the team,” he said. “I would like to think I did that initially when I came back in and that I did fairly well, but obviously not quite enough to get a new contract. When you are out of contract you want to show your worth and show what you are capable of but the decision has been made. I would like to think I did everything that I could to try and earn a new contract but it wasn’t to be.

"I tried not to think about it (contract) too much. The more you think about it the more pressure you are putting onto yourself. Ultimately it was not my decision so I just tried to do everything that I could to make the decision for them. I wouldn’t say it was a surprise but I wouldn’t say I was expecting a lovely massive new contract either. I feel like I probably did enough to extend but the decision is what it is and I respect their decision.”

And so Clements is now a free agent and on the look out for a new club.

He added: "I am not too sure what is next. I have got to speak to a few people to see what is happening. I am just in a waiting stage at the minute.”

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