• Danny Hughes


Chesterfield have had a busy summer already having let go a huge bunch of their squad as their contracts ran out as well as adding a fair few players to their arsenal. Recruitment is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons in how James Rowe managed to turn Chesterfield’s campaign from third from bottom into the play offs. Despite their upturn in form the Spireites did heartbreakingly go out of the play offs to Notts County so they’ll be looking to improve the squad this pre season to make sure they can get the job done this time and return to the football league.

They made the shock decision to let go of both of their first team goalkeepers Grant Smith and James Montgomery despite both of them having good seasons. This prompted the Spireites to add highly experienced stopper Scott Loach who has a wealth of experience, including 154 games for Watford and a call up to the England camp. He has spent the last two yers at Barnet but with his contract running out it made sense for the local lad to make the move to Derbyshire. The 33 year old has also featured for Rotherham and Hartlepool which James Rowe says will add invaluable experience to the role. Loach is keen to add a medal to his cabinet and alongside his fellow new additions he could be about to do that if he hits the ground running.

Departures of Yarney and Will Evans meant the Blues needed reinforcements in defence. Following a successful spell at Hereford Jamie Grimes put pen to paper on a deal at the Technique Stadium. The 30 year old centre back is highly experienced at this level after spells at Ebbsfleet, Macclesfield, Cheltenham, and Dover Athletic. Standing at 6ft2, Grimes is very good in the air and prefers to play on the left side of defence. Alongside the likes of Gavin Gunning and Fraser Kerr at the back Grimes will add even more experience to an already very local backline.

The most impressive signing so far in my opinion is the capture of ex Villa midfielder Jack Clarke who impressed massively whilst on loan at the Technique Stadium last season. Clarke stepped up with some crucial goals to help Chesterfield secure the play offs and his energy and versatility gave Rowe many options when picking his starting eleven. They will be delighted to acquire Clarke’s services especially with keen interest coming from a few League Two clubs. At just 22 he arrives with plenty of room to improve which could see his stock rise. Clarke arrived on loan without a full pre season to be integrated into the squad so with the full summer ahead of him Clarke could settle in even more and find even better form.

It was well documented how many additions James Rowe brought with him when joining Chesterfield, but despite all their new signings they still found themselves scrabbling around for defenders at the back end of the season. Right wing back, George Carline had a non stop season and didn’t get a minutes rest. To keep him fit and add even more options at the back the Derbyshire outfit brought in ex Halifax man Jeff King. King was in last seasons team of the season but Halifax couldn’t keep hold of their full back. The 25 year old is also a goal threat as well as being defensively solid, scoring seven goals last season from right wing back which also earned him Halifax player of the year. King worked his way up the footballing ladder, starting out at Altrincham and featuring for Trafford, Ashton United, and many others. He eventually found himself at Bolton but couldn’t lock down a first team place. He then went north of the border and signed for St Mirren but his first real professional minutes came at Halifax and he’s done nothing but improve since signing at The Shay. He’ll add a lot of competition to the backline and give the coaching staff many options in formations and selections.

Recently they announced the arrival of ex Celtic wing back, Calvin Miller who spent last season on loan at Notts County. His appearances against James Rowe’s side clearly impressed him as he acted fast to secure his services. Miller is also capable of playing as an out an out winger but if Chesterfield continue to play their five at the back formation he looks likely to play let wing back meaning one of Alex Whittle or Joel Taylor could be set to leave. Miller has natural pace and is more than capable of beating his man. Still only 23 Miller could have a long future with the Blues as James Rowe looks set for a long run as manager. The Scotland u21 international has had loan spells at Dundee and Ayr United. Miller has also had a short spell at Harrogate but he’s secured a permanent deal at Chesterfield and I’m sure Rowe will want him to stick around to reach his full potential.

Just this week the Spireites announced the signing of Stefan Payne following his release from Grimsby. The former Barnsley man had a prolific spell at this level with Dover where he bagged 33 goals in 84 games but the goals have dried up slightly since his spell at Shrewsbury in 2018 but he’ll be hoping he can relight his career dropping back down to the national league. The 29 year old is a 6 ft 2 forward capable of playing as lone striker or in a two.

There’s still plenty of time before the season starts which means there will probably be a few more new names in the squad before the opening day but James Rowe is already building an impressive squad for the upcoming season.