There are considerable doubts concerning the early days of Chesterfield FC, one of the oldest clubs in existence. These include the dates when they played at their two grounds (both just off Saltergate), their possible folding at one time, and the relation with neighbouring Spital Football Club. It’s all very confusing.
The formation of the club has been recorded as 1866 though concrete evidence exists only of a formation in 1867. A reconstitution occurred as Chesterfield Town in 1884 and a team went under this name until 1917, followed in 1919 by Chesterfield Municipal, with the reversion to plain Chesterfield a year later. The early club played on several sites around then, including 2 fields just off Saltergate, it’s only ever permanent home. In the early days it was referred to as the Recreation Ground, which is still its official name, but any references to playing at Spital should be treated with scepticism.
The club’s original members played only friendly matches until 1891 when they turned professional and did not play any matches at all for a time around 1881. Anyway, in 1871 club issued a set of rules, still in existence today, drawn up by club President John Cutts, a local solicitor and town clerk, together with Mr C.W Rollinson who was Secretary and treasurer. They were the driving force behind the club at the time. In 1884 the club officially moved to the Recreation Ground, Saltergate which in those days was little more than a mowed, enclosed field with a small cover on the half way line on the Compton Street side.
In the 1892-93 season, Chesterfield’s first team sported a most unusual outfit of patriotic shirts with a large Union Flag (did you know it should only be called a “Union Jack” when it’s flown on the jack mast of a ship?) emblazoned across the front. They were found in the loft of the Spital Hotel by the landlord, who then donated the shirts to the club. The shirts were almost certainly those of the defunct Spital Olympic club.
Other interesting club colours in the early days were cardinal and sky blue, myrtle green and red stripes (reintroduced as an away kit in 2002-03 season) and away kits of black and yellow hoops. The early football league outfits were white shirts with black shorts, followed by black and white striped shirts with white shorts. Following the re-election failure of 1909 the club colours were red shirts and white shorts. Just prior to rejoining the league in 1921, the Municipal run club wore black and white hoped shirts with white shorts. Older fans still remember with affection the outfits from 1928 to 1945 of blue and white striped jerseys with either navy or black shorts. In 1870 the club records show that blue and white jerseys and white trousers were the official dress and despite the numerous changes over the years already mentioned, this traditional outfit has remained as the basic kit since 1945. It will therefore come as no surprise that Chesterfield are sometimes nicknamed “The Blues”, but more often referred to as “Town”. The crooked spire of the Church of Chesterfield inspired the other more romantic name, ‘The Spireites’ which is the official nickname.
Chesterfield’s first known badge was donated by the fans in 1894 and depicted the crooked spire on silk on the white shirts. Badges were not worn again until 1945 with a very basic design with, on a shield, the intertwined initials of CFC. This remained the club badge until 1968 when Chesterfield adopted the Borough’s arms at the instigation of the Borough Council. This was worn on the shirts in only 1968-9 and 1969-70 seasons, but was the official club crest until1977.
The club then adopted a badge previously used as a lapel badge bearing the famous crooked spire. The club wore this on their shirts from the1978-79 season until 1995-96 season with the single exception of 1979-80 when no badge was worn. Since then an incorrectly drawn version of the original badge was used on the shirts in 1996-7 to 1997-8 and a new version was first worn in the FA Cup semi-final in 1997 which encircled the shield with “Chesterfield FC Est 1866”. This remained on the shirts until 2002 when the new owners, the supporters group CFSS drew up a new design incorporating all the previous themes plus a scarf to denote the supporters’group ownership.
Chesterfield’s arms were granted in 1955. The shield represents a pomegranate tree, taken from the town’s ancient common seal. Catherine of Aragon is thought to have introduced the pomegranate to Britain and the view of the college of arms is that the use of the pomegranate tree is, in fact, a royal allusion to the pomegranate of Granada which was used as a badge by Catherine of Aragon, by her husband Henry VIII and by Mary Tudor.
The crest depicts a ram indicating the town’s association with the county of Derbyshire and the mural crown represents a town wall and is appropriate to a Borough like Chesterfield. The town was one of the first six boroughs of ancient domesne in the country from the Roman days it was called Cestrefeld, meaning ‘the open field near the camp’. The base of rock and moorland signify the proximity of the Peak District. The supporters are a cock and a pynot (or magpie), each wearing around the neck a ducal crown. They represent a public house by the name of ‘The Cock and Pynot’ at Old Whittington and commemorate the scene of a revolutionary plot, hatched here in 1688, by the Earl of Devonshire, the Earl of Danby and John d’Arcy who was the heir to the Earl of Holderness. The motto: “Aspire” encourages people to aim for higher things and at the same time is a punning reference to the famous Crooked Spire of the Parish Church.