RETRO: Albert Holmes' made a fortune from streaking at '˜Spartan' training facilities
There was a time when a Chesterfield side going well in the second division of English football had the foresight to open its own training complex.
Built on land at Pitt Street, in Eckington, the neatly-laid out pitch and perhaps rather basic dressing rooms were opened in the summer of 1948 and became the base for the club’s ‘A’ team and colts side.
The senior players trained there; the Spartan facilities made quite an impression on the minds of some.
Kevin Randall recalls: “We used to turn up in the middle of winter with no heating. You had to get changed as quickly as you could and rush down to the boiler room where Dick Hallam used to make the fire to warm the water.
“We all came in one day after training with four inches of snow on the ground, moaning about how cold it was.
“Albert Holmes piped up: “You’re all a bunch of softies – I’d run round the ground now for five bob each with nothing on!”
“We all took him up on it; he stripped off, ran round the pitch and came back with nothing on, and made a fortune!”
The training ground became a casualty of the financial crisis that bedevilled the club throughout the 1980s, the five-acre site being sold for housing for around £130,000 during the 1986-7 season.
The club regretted it almost immediately as deals had to be struck to train on school and park pitches and despite plans and good intentions, the club have struggled on without this vital item of infrastructure ever since.