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Dave Caldwell, a fan's hero!

By Simon Haywood
August 4 2004

Dave Caldwell, the rise and fall of quite possibly the number one ex Spireite legend! His on the field abilities were quite possibly all you'd dream of owning. Unfortunately his temperament used to get the better of him. Here Simon Haywood shares with us the highs and lows of one man's career!

Dave Caldwell was my hero as a youngster.. Star centre forward..dyed blonde main.. bit of a playboy.. Playing up front for town.. He was everything, he had it all, I wanted to be just like him!! Signed for town at the beginning of 85/86 to replace the departed and loved Bob Newton, in hindsight we should have smelled a rat. Why were our nearest and dearest rivals letting us have their 20 goal a season striker for under 20K???

There was no doubt Shaggy (was this a reference to his hairstyle or scoring prowess off the field??…or both??)…was on his day one of the most talented centre forwards to play for town. He had great skill, ability, strength, pace and importantly an eye for goal. He really could and should have played at the highest level of the game. The highlight for me being 2 wonderful solo efforts in a home Boxing Day match against Doncaster Rovers, that town won 4-1. He really was good, potentially he was superb.

So why was this not achieved? I think its fair to stay Dave lacked a degree of professionalism. At times he looked unfit, at times he looked not bothered. He never gave the impression he would die for the cause. More significantly, it was his temperament that let himself, the team and the players down. Never in my time supporting town, has a player been seen to self destruct like Dave, regularly lashing out at opposing centre halves and collecting more cards than Royal Mail at Christmas. A fine example was a home game with Wolves, where he lashed out at David Barnes, causing the defender to be stretchered off. It maybe could have be excused if we were losing, but we were 3-0 up at the time!! (it would be interesting to see how many games he missed through suspension!!) Becoming a liability, he had to go, and was eventually transferred to Torquay Utd, reappearing briefly for a spell under Paul Hart.

His legacy will be that whenever he played you knew there would not be a dull moment.. A great goal, a defender missing teeth, a red card. A great player, but his own worst enemy. Who can forget that mullet, cycling shorts and that huge rear??? Rumour is he scored more times off the pitch than he did on… broke a lot of hearts in Chesterfield, unfortunately it wasn’t the fans when he departed. However, will always be a hero of mine.. Anyone remember his “hand of God” goal against Peterbrough in the Milk Cup???

Last heard of selling insurance I think in Edinburgh. Now surely in his mid forties, he must sit behind that desk and ask himself “what if..” every day. If not, he should!!!

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