Dr Mark Blagden has retired after working as the club doctor for nearly 35 years.
Dr Blagden started at the club back in 1988, with his first match being a home fixture against Doncaster Rovers. He was then a 26-year-old doctor kick-starting his career in sports medicine.
He told us he has fond memories of the club and spoke about how he remembers his first day at the club well, saying: “I remember being called to cover my first match as the doctor at the time was ill, so someone had to fill in. I kept in touch with the club and at the end of that season I was offered a role at the club.
“I’ve always done it alongside my general practice work, which I retired from in May 2021. I’ve looked after the team for all those years whilst also overlooking all the general medical needs at the club. It’s been a great 34 years and I’ll never forget it.”
Dr Blagden spoke about all the different managers that he has worked with, adding that he has had great relationships with many of them. “The staff around me have been so supportive throughout my career,” he said. “I began with Kevin Randall and finished with Paul Cook. The different types of managers I have worked with is incredible. They’ve all been brilliant.
“I think I would say John Sheridan is one of the best people I worked with and the current manager Paul Cook I have got along very well with on both occasions he has been here.
“I’ve worked with 19 different managers since being here, and that is excluding the temporary managers too. I have worked with so many permanent managers and they’re all so different in many ways, but most of all they’ve all been supportive and enjoyable to work with. It’s been great to get to know so many people within football.”
Dr Blagden also spoke about his great interest in football and how pleased he has been to be able to work in the game for so long.
He said: “Football is a huge passion of mine and so is medicine, so to be able to combine the two has been incredible. I love the football environment; it’s been a great privilege.
“I’ve got to be involved in everything that has gone on, and although it has admittedly sometimes had its challenges, it’s always been enjoyable.”
He also gave his view on football, pointing out that the game has changed so much since he first began in 1988. “I remember when I first started, I was even taking players out onto the pitch for their warm-ups and doing the drills with them, and now there’s fitness guys that do all that stuff,” Dr Blagden commented.
“The game has changed a lot over the years, but you still get to meet so many people. It’s amazing how football becomes a full circle over the years – people that I’ve known over the years I’ve then seen several years later which was always great.
“That’s what is so great about football, I’ve made so many friends.”
Dr Blagden has attended many games over his career and he reflected on some of the highlights. “I have many good memories; I’ve been to Wembley several times. The first time was in May 1990.
“I didn’t realise it at the time, but I recently discovered that it was the first play-off final at Wembley.
“I was a 29-year-old doctor on the pitch at Wembley, which was great. I was sat on the bench; it really was fantastic. I’ve still got a picture to this day of me on the pitch.
“The 1997 semi-final was a great day, probably my favourite. It was a big day in my career and of course a big day for the club, despite the disappointing result on the day.
“It was an amazing up-beat trip to Old Trafford on the team coach and it was great to experience that. John Duncan gave an inspiring team talk in the changing rooms.
“It was also a fantastic carnival-like atmosphere which really made the day so special. The roller-coaster of the match was out of this world and the team spirit was just great on the day. It’s certainly a day I’ll never forget.”
Dr Blagden was extremely grateful to everyone he has encountered over his time at the club, saying: “I just want to say thank you to everyone I have come across. It’s been a huge privilege to work for this club.
“I have worked with some fantastic people over the years and it has been truly fantastic. I will stay associated with the club and I’ll still be one of the first to jump up when we score a goal on a Saturday afternoon. I’ll always be a fan of this club now.
“I want to wish all the supporters well and thank them for their support. I would also like to wish everyone that has helped me along the way all the best for the future.”
Spireites CEO John Croot added: “On behalf of the club, I’d like to thank Dr Blagden for his dedicated service over more than three decades.
“I wish Dr Blagden a long, happy retirement and look forward to seeing him again at the Technique Stadium in the future.”