Lifelong Spireite recalls last meeting with Chelsea

Lifelong Spireite Dave Fielding, who recently turned 82 on New Year’s Day, has fond memories of the last time Chesterfield faced Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Saturday’s game at Stamford Bridge will be the first match between the two CFCs since they met in the fifth round of the competition in 1950.

Looking back on the game, he said: “I remember vividly the one at Chesterfield because that is probably one of the best Chesterfield teams I’ve ever seen. We’d got Gordon Dale and he was a left winger. He was at the time the answer to Stanley Matthews.

“Jackie Thompson was an inside left and he never used to score at all. He was getting on a bit but scored a cracker for us. I was sat at the Cross Street end – on the wall. [Thompson] scored the goal at that end.

“There was a player called Matt Costello and he had a golden chance around the 80th minute – and he side-footed it over the bar from no yards. We should have never gone back to Stamford Bridge!

“I can’t remember the second game, which was at Stamford Bridge. I do believe there was about 50,000 people there for the return match.”

All had not been rosy leading up to the Cup run, according to Mr Fielding, with Chesterfield not playing to the best of their ability.

However, things started to click before the Blues knocked out Yeovil Town and Middlesbrough in their path towards a meeting with the future eight-time winners.

“Leading up to that, we had a terrible team really and then we just started to play well. There was a big clear-out either that season or the season before. We were getting nowhere and then we had this Cup run.

“I can remember the first game against Yeovil Town. They were a non-league club and they had been beating league clubs like nobody’s business. It was the third round that year and it was very easy – I think we won 3-1.

“Then you started taking notice and the Middlesbrough match came out of nowhere. Gordon Dale scored a goal that day and it was wonderful that game. [Dale] was unplayable that day; it was the best I’ve ever seen anyone play for Chesterfield.”

Despite the Spireites bowing out in the fifth round replay, Mr Fielding holds that FA Cup memory in high regards.

Assessing where the Cup run ranks in terms of FA Cup memories, he said: “It’s got to be next to Old Trafford and the 1997 semi-final Cup run. We should’ve met Chelsea in the final that year but that’s football.”

Mr Fielding, who will be in attendance at the game on Saturday with his two grandsons, had a simple message for James Rowe and his side, saying: “What an occasion it will be. It’s not a no hoper, it’s a big hoper.”

Newspaper cutting from Cup tie against Chelsea