Saltergate 10 years on: Derek Niven on scoring Chesterfield's last ever goal at the famous old ground against Bournemouth

“To score the winning goal in the last game at Saltergate was a special moment for me.”

Sunday, 3rd May 2020, 10:35 am

Derek Niven is homeschooling his two children in Sheffield during lockdown when the DT gives him a call.

“It’s not much fun but it’s not bad,” he says.

The 36-year-old, who is now a painter and decorator, played more than 300 games for the Spireites across nine years.

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He experienced a number of highs and lows during that time.

None more so than when on May 8, 2010, Niven wrote his name into the history books when he scored the last ever goal at Chesterfield’s famous old ground in the 96th minute to seal a dramatic 2-1 win against Bournemouth in League Two.

It was a fairytale ending as the Blues bid farewell to their home for the last 139 years.

Saltergate, says Niven, was a “second home” for him because it was where he played most of his football in his career.

Derek Niven played more than 300 games for the Spireites.

Recalling the build up to the final match 10 years on, the Falkirk-born midfielder said: “There was a special atmosphere about it. You could feel the buzz. All the fans and players were excited about it. It was a special game and you could feel that.”

As well as being the Saltergate finale, the match had an edge to it.

Town, then managed by John Sheridan, still had hopes of sneaking into the play-offs. The Cherries, meanwhile, had already been promoted.

“There was an outside chance of getting into the play-offs so there was a bit of pressure on it as well,” Niven explained.

Spireites fans invaded the pitch after Niven's 96th minute winner.

For large parts, the match against Eddie Howe’s side was not a classic despite the party atmosphere.

Niven himself admits he can’t remember too much about the game apart from his winner, of course.

Drew Talbot diverted the ball into his own net from a corner just before half-time to give Bournemouth the lead. As the clock struck 80, Jack Lester equalised. Who else? It was game on.

Then came the moment that shook the foundations of Saltergate for one last time.

Derek Niven scored the last ever goal at Saltergate against Bournemouth in 2010.

In the dying seconds, with Chesterfield on the attack, the ball went out of play for a throw-in three-quarters of the way into Bournemouth’s half on the left hand side.

“I think it was Ian Breckin who won the header and it just dropped to me at the edge of the box,” Niven told the DT.

“I got a good connection with it on the half volley and luckily for me it went in the bottom corner and we got the winner.

“I hit it well. I think the keeper got a touch to it and it went in off the post. It was pretty special.

“I was always hanging around there in case I got an opportunity to have a shot.

“In my time I have hit more corner flags than I have goals!”

Niven joked: “At the time I thought Jack Lester would be gutted because he would have wanted to score the last ever goal at Saltergate and he was so close to scoring it! It probably didn’t sink in at the time but when it did it was a pretty special moment.”

The Scot’s goal sparked wild scenes in the stands and a joyful pitch invasion from hundreds of jubilant Town fans, including one young supporter who famously invaded the turf in his wheelchair. It’s a must-watch on YouTube.

“I remember all the fans running on and getting mobbed,” Niven said. “For the fans it was a very special moment and you could see that when they all ran on the pitch.

“There was the famous moment when the young lad in the wheelchair got himself on the pitch. I didn’t see it at the time but I have watched it many times on video.”

Unsurprisingly, when Niven is stopped in the street by Spireites fans, they only want to talk to him about one thing.

“It is definitely up there with my best goals and one of my best moments of my career,” he said. “I have definitely seen it quite a few times!

“Whenever I meet someone new they say ‘Oooh I’ve seen your goal’ and they try to show it to me.

“It is one of those moments when you finish playing football to look back on and show your kids what you did in football.

“To score the winning goal in the last game at Saltergate was a special moment for me.”

Unfortunately, it was not enough for Chesterfield to get into the play-offs as other results went against them. They missed out by two points. But they won the title the year after.

And for Niven, playing at Saltergate will always hold a special place in his heart.

He added: “It was an old ground and opposition players didn’t like playing there. It was a great ground to play at. The pitch was actually not bad for an old style stadium. I loved playing there. It was a special place for me and I will always have great memories of playing there.”