The sad news of Tony Hallam’s passing has reached us.
Tony was the only the third player to sign on to Chesterfield’s newly-established apprenticeship programme, joining in January 1963, three months after his 16th birthday. He made his reserve-team bow just two months later and held a place in the Central League team for the remainder of that season.
Progress was made through the reserve and youth sides until Tony signed as a professional the day after his 17th birthday, on October 10, 1964. Unable to dislodge Gerry Sears from the left-back position, he had to be content with second XI football until the opening day of the 1965/66 season, when he was named as the club’s first-ever substitute.
The honour of being the first to come on fell to another player, but Tony’s reward eventually came with a first-team debut against Wrexham on October 25, 1965.
There was a more cultured approach to Tony’s play than had been demanded of the average left-back in the 40s and 50s – he favoured playing the ball out from the back, and was mobile enough to have made a tidy wing-back, had he been playing in today’s football.
Tony played five more times for the first team, the last being on May 13, 1967 – the last day of the 1966/67 season. Oddly, the opponents were Wrexham again.
Tony had one more year of reserve football but was now being pressed by the emerging Roy Hickton, and he was freed in the summer of 1968, leaving to join a decent ex-Spireites contingent at Worksop Town.
A spell at Boston Town followed; he also played for and managed the Clay Cross Works team, and served as player-coach and assistant manager to Gerry Clarke at Staveley Works FC.
When Tony finally unlaced his football boots, he put on cricket ones, and turned out regularly with the Old Whittington Cricket Club in the 1980s.
After football, Tony spent much of his working life at Sheepbridge, managing a machine shop. He was a familiar figure at Chesterfield FC matches – first and foremost a Town fan, whether a player or not, he was a regular at the new stadium and got to many away games on the Bridge Inn coaches.
Tony was one of the first to sign up to the Chesterfield FC Former Players’ Association and regularly attended meetings until the dementia that affects too many footballers prevented him from doing so.
We send our sincere condolences to his family and to the many friends he made throughout his life.