More ‘remember where we came from?’ fun, this time from the tumultuous 2000/2001 campaign. Adam Pearson’s takeover of City in March 2001, a month after we were locked out of Boothferry Park and served with a winding up order, breathed new life into the Tigers who went on a remarkable run that elevated us into the play-off places. A pivotal game was the late April home tie against Division Three leaders Chesterfield, or as they were dubbed that year, Cheaterfield. The church spire wasn’t the only thing crooked around Saltergate in 2001, for Chesterfield were found guilty of submitting falsified gate receipt information to the league, and using the undeclared income to make non-contract payments to players, usually in cash stuffed in envelopes.
As if a late-season game between the table toppers and play-off chasers didn’t have enough intrigue, this fixture took place two days before an FA disciplinary panel convened to mete out punishment to the Spireites. It was speculated that Chesterfield would be given a huge point deduction for the financial irregularities, and if this were to happen, then automatic promotion could suddenly be within reach for the Tigers, a draw in this game would guarantee us a play-off position at least, but we really wanted a win to keep us in with a shout at a top three finish.
We got the win too, in a fantastic game witnessed by 11,337 people including some Tiger Nationals who taunted blue-shirted players by waving envelopes at them. Mike Edwards ended a goalmouth melee when he drilled in our first goal, but parity was restored when Ian Breckin nodded in an equaliser for Chesterfield. Beloved giant Kevin Francis restored the Tigers’ lead though, directing Rob Matthews’ cross home with his head, before Rodney Rowe won a penalty despite seemingly never entering the 18 yard box (hehe) and made sure we took all three points by scoring from the spot.
Chesterfield were docked points, but only nine of them (many had called for a 50 point deduction), which still left them three points clear of the play-offs and therefore assured of promotion. City had to settle for play-off participation and would later fall at the semi-final hurdle, but immediately after this pulsating 3-1 win, anything seemed possible for City.