Season of dreaming Spireites

the Chesterfield defender, retraces his steps to Old Trafford
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The Independent Online
17 November

First round

Chesterfield 1 Bury 0

Chesterfield's history of long Cup runs is like Liz Taylor's record of long marriages. For us it never seems to work. We have had some titanic battles with Bury in the recent past, not least in the Third Division play-off final at Wembley two years ago when we won 2-0. This was never about to be one of the prettiest contests and so it proves. A second-half goal from Mark Williams separates us. Pleasing, but nobody's getting too excited. In 10 seasons with the Spireites I've only played 10 FA Cup ties.

8 December, Second round

Chesterfield 2 Scarborough 0

We came out in the same place in the draw, fifth, which we thought must be an omen. A slight alarm when the captain Sean Dyche and Lee Rogers both pull out with a virus. It's strange to be playing. I can normally guarantee getting this Saturday off for Christmas shopping. The victory is straightforward with goals from Kevin Davies and Tony Lormor. The Cup is always a bonus to lower clubs - though not much of a bonus to us since it's 47 years since we reached the fifth round for the only time - and the third round is the primary objective. There's a bit of a groan as we sit round the TV in the club bar and Bristol City come out of the hat.

14 January, Third round

Chesterfield 2 Bristol City 0

When City have a man sent off early in the game we know we must be favourites. It's clear they're aiming for a goalless draw and a home replay. We already know we've got Bolton or Luton in the next round and when Jon Howard scores the first there are no more problems. His second merely confirms the result. This is unknown territory for all of us. I supported the club as a boy, watching every week with my dad, joined them as an apprentice and this is my first experience of a Cup run in either capacity.

4 February, Fourth round

Bolton Wdrs 2 Chesterfield 3

On the Saturday before the match Chesterfield have a day off as Bolton and Luton play their third-round tie. Team-mate Paul Holland and I follow it on radio and when Luton lead 2-1 we're happy. Bolton win it 6-2 and we're worried. But we're immediately perked up on seeing our 2,500 travelling fans. The boss John Duncan warns us before the start that Bolton are most dangerous when behind. If we're going to score, he suggests, do it after 89 minutes. After 10, Kevin Davies seizes on Chris Beaumont's through ball, rounds the keeper and hits the empty net. Bolton equalise from a corner and have all the possession. But they look wary of Davies's pace and we know we must give him the ball early. He's in brilliant mode, scores twice more. Bolton attack frantically. Time stands still. Three minutes to go, they get one back. "Ref ref," we're saying, "it must be time." Bolton's directors send champagne to our dressing-room.

16 February, Fifth round

Chesterfield 1 Nottm Forest 0

My girlfriend Tracy comes from Mansfield and all her relatives are Forest supporters. They gather at our house before the game and whatever the outcome we'll meet afterwards. We played Forest in a pre-season friendly and won 5-1, which is better than the other way round. This is different. Stuart Pearce has picked them up. But after initially showing them too much respect we finish much the stronger. Mark Crossley makes an astonishing early save but then concedes a penalty and is sent off. Tom Curtis scores with wonderful calm. Calmness isn't something which applies to our celebrations.

9 March, Quarter-final

Chesterfield 1 Wrexham 0

We've made a record, "We Can Build Our Dreams". The town's shops are adorned with messages of support. It's hard not to feel we're in the big time just for a short while. If Wrexham wasn't everybody's choice of opponent they're our best hope of progress. It's tense but we're worth the win.

12 April

We've been to Old Trafford, scene of the semi-final. In some ways it's more daunting than Wembley. Mark Williams reckons he can boot the ball over any stand but this might be different. Preferably we'd like him to do it in the last minute when we're leading 1-0. After a lifetime of FA Cup non-achievement, our time has come. Chelsea in the final would do. We have a score to settle: they ended our 1950 Cup run.

Interview by Stephen Brenkley

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