No nonsense Blatherwick says his style of defending is coming back into fashion
Steve Blatherwick believes the no-nonsense style of defending he was known for is coming back into fashion.
The 42-year-old had a 15-year career as a professional footballer, including a stint in the Premier League with Nottingham Forest.
But it was with Chesterfield that the majority of his Football League appearances came about, playing over 250 times for the Spireites.
Blatherwick’s career was an injury-disrupted one, his back giving him the most trouble.
Problematic body mechanics meant he tried to play within his limits.
“I was just a no-nonsense centre-half,” he said.
“I would head everything, kick people.
“I was aware of my physical problems and tried to keep things simple.”
While he might have fit the mould of what people dub the ‘old fashioned defender,’ Blatherwick points to the two rocks at the back for Premier League champions Leicester City, Wes Morgan and Robert Huth, to evidence his claim that his style of play is making a comeback.
“The strange thing is, looking at how Leicester have done this season, that kind of centre-half seems to be coming back into fashion,” he said.
“They’ve been out of fashion for a while.
“I almost wish I was playing now, there’s a lot more money in the game.”
Defensive partnerships are key if you want consistency and Blackerwick can recall a few that brought him joy on the pitch.
“I loved playing alongside Ian Breckin, we complemented each other.
“Reuben Hazell became a great player for Chesterfield at that time.
“He allowed me to go and win everything and do what I was good at, he swept up behind me.”
Having what he calls a ‘glass back’ that he believes stems from his teenage cricketing years as a fast bowler, Blatherwick still looks back with gratitude at how then-Spireites boss Roy McFarland got the best out of him in the final years of his career.
“There are very few players with perfect body mechanics,” he said.
“The ones who get to the very top are usually the ones who have avoided bad injurues.
“I played in the Premier League with Forest but I had two or three serious injuries there that just took it out of me.
“I was blighted by injuries and if I’m being honest I was never quite the same player that I was at Forest.
“To have 15 years at it was brilliant. I would have liked to play at a higher standard for longer but that’s the way it is.
“Roy McFarland managed me well, he helped me out a lot.
“The last two to three years at Chesterfield I swam a lot and played the games and took tablets, but I didn’t train a lot.”
A Premier League debut against Leeds United for the Reds might rank as a career highlight, but it’s with great fondness that Blatherwick regards his time at Saltergate.
“There were great times at Chesterfield,” he said.
“I remember the camaraderie and spirit of the team that went up in 2001.
“With all the off-field stuff going on, the Darren Brown thing, that was a really tight dressing room, a great set of lads.
“We all wanted to work hard, it was a great year, we were a good team – it’s just a shame we couldn’t keep that team together.
“I loved my time at Chesterfield, I met some great people and the club has come a long way.
“Theirs is the first result I look for, my son George is a Spireite.”
Not playing at the highest level for longer and not enjoying his playing days as much as he could have are Blatherwick’s two regrets.
But he admits those 15 years as a professional weren’t spent in the ‘real world,’ and he was living the dream.
“When it’s going on you take it for granted,” he said.
“One of the biggest issues players face is when you go into it straight from school, you klnow nothing else. All you know is football.
“You’re in a little bubble, it’s not real.
“But it’s the dream job, being paid to keep fit and play football.”