Dave Blakey: Muscular footballer at the heart of Chesterfield FC's defence for more than 650 games across three decades

 

Dave Blakey consisted of flesh and blood like any other footballer, but that's not how it seemed to Chesterfield fans for some two decades after the Second World War. The towering, muscular north-easterner appeared like a wall of granite at the core of the Spireites' rearguard as he played more than 650 games for the Saltergate club, far more than anyone else in their history.

After making his debut as a 19-year-old inside-forward in a second-tier home clash with West Ham United in August 1948, he gravitated from attack to defence, cementing a regular niche at centre-half in 1952 then embarking on a remarkable unbroken run of 244 League outings, which was not interrupted until November 1957.

Blakey, who shared the trauma of Chesterfield's relegations to the Third Division North in 1951 and the Fourth Division 10 years later, became an uplifting captain, knowing which team-mates to cajole and which to excoriate. Arguably his prime was in the mid-1950s when the club finished sixth in the Third Division North on four successive occasions.

He was dropped for the first time in 1963-64, but soon recovered his place, which he yielded only gradually to Albert Phelan, 15 years his junior. He was a reported transfer target for the new Liverpool manager Bill Shankly in 1960 but, in the days of the iniquitous maximum wage rule, is said to have rejected the move as he would not have been appreciably better off financially.

Having retired as a player in 1967, he became a successful scout for Burnley, then Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United.

David Blakey, footballer: born Newburn, Northumberland 22 August 1929; played for Chesterfield 1947-67; died 4 April 2014.

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