John Wilkinson, 1952-2024

The club is saddened to hear about the death of John Wilkinson.

Born in New Whittington, John has supported Chesterfield FC all of his life and always named centre forward Ivan Hollett as his all-time Spireites hero.

John spent much of his adult life based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, running a business that made high-quality medical grade optical equipment, but he regularly returned to Chesterfield to see his family and attend matches, as well as frequently travelling to away games in his high-powered Subaru, which (of course) was limited to never go at more than 70mph!

Outside football, John loved playing golf, especially on the Scottish Island of Islay, where he also honed his love of whisky. He loved a good beer too, the darker the better, and he sampled many as the beer buyer for the Royal British Legion Club in Marlow.

He confirmed his love and devotion to the Spireites in April 2001 at the inaugural meeting of Chesterfield Football Supporters Society (CFSS). With over 1,100 people in attendance at the Winding Wheel for a meeting to see what could be done by supporters in the wake of the disastrous Darren Brown ownership spell, John stood up and pledged £50,000 to the cause, and he honoured that pledge. There was raucous laughter when one attendee stood and shouted, ‘We’re saved, we’ve got Jesus on our side!’ From then on, everyone knew who Jesus John was.

His actions that day prompted other individuals and organisations to help CFSS and enable them to save the club from potential oblivion.

Very soon, along with six other supporters, he took on a magnificent 92-club challenge to raise money for the club. The intrepid team, over a three-day period, drove to all of the 92 clubs in the Football League, including having to negotiate riots in Bradford to achieve their aims.

In 2002, he was one of two supporters who donated £2,500 each in return for being registered as a player for the 2002/03 season, almost certainly making him the oldest player ever to be registered as a Spireite.

Wilko stood up and was very much counted at a vital time in the club’s history and without his gesture and those that he inspired as a result, there may be no Chesterfield Football Club today.

Condolences to all of John’s family and friends. RIP.

For supporters attending the Gateshead game on Wednesday, you will have the opportunity to remember John and join in a minute’s applause from the 71st minute, when his photograph will appear on the Big Screen.

John is pictured far left