Crewe Alexandra 2
(Chris Porter, Charlie Kirk)
The Proact Stadium
Boxing Day football is quite the tradition in the UK! In the 14 years that I have been following football, I have been to a Boxing Day fixture in eight of those years. It would have been nine had Walsall versus Norwich City in 2009 not been called off as my father and I arrived at the Banks’ Stadium.
Of those 8 years, six of them have been watching Crewe, with two home defeats (Swansea & Oldham), two home draws (Rochdale & Carlisle), one away defeat (Wolves) and an away victory (Oldham) the stats don’t look that great for watching the Railwaymen on Boxing Day.
A few obscure games that I have been to on this festive day include Port Vale versus Walsall (2007) and Scunthorpe versus Bury (2011).
I have seen the Spireites on five occasions prior to my first trip to the Proact Stadium. My first time watching Chesterfield came in a 2-2 draw against Crewe in November 2006 before seeing them win 1-0 away at Port Vale in December 2008. I saw them again at Vale Park in a 1-1 draw on my birthday in 2010 before seeing them later in the same season lose 2-0 at Gresty Road against Crewe. The last time I saw the blues play was in August 2011 when they lost 2-1 away in my first trip to Exeter City’s St James’ Park.
Boxing Day football for me usually involves watching Crewe with my old man. My dad often prepares turkey and stuffing baps from the leftovers from the day before and it usually is a great day regardless of the result. Memories that you can’t buy.
The Proact Stadium opened in 2010 and is very much a standard, modern Football League Ground. Holding 10,504, it is a very symmetrical stadium filled with blue seats and looks very generic. Like with my new stadiums, I felt like I could have been at any number of clubs with nothing do unique inside the stadium. The away end is behind the goal, a very standard concourse offering food and drinks with entrances leading to the seats.
With that said it was my first trip and a good chance to tick off another of the 92. With new stadiums there tends to be no bad place to sit with the viewing not obstructed by anything.
Outside the stadium there is a small retail park with a Tesco, KFC, Costa and a pub etc. The outside of the ground looks very smart with two metal spires marking the entrance to the site. The club shop is well stocked with plenty of merchandise and I was able to pick up a pin badge.
If you want a unique, quirky ground then Chesterfield certainly isn’t the place to visit. However if you need to do the 92 then you will obviously need to come here at some point. It is a shame I never got to visit Saltergate as I imagine that had a bit more character that the Proact is lacking in.
Crewe picked up their first Boxing Day win since 2014 with a 2-0 victory over fellow relegation scrappers Chesterfield.
In a battle between two clubs at the wrong end of the table, the Railwaymen scored twice in the first half through Chris Porter and Charlie Kirk to confirm the victory.
It took just seven minutes for Crewe to take the lead when some good work on the left flank between Kirk and Conor Grant sent Porter away on the left wing and he made his way into the box, put in a low cross that was deflected off Jerome Binnom-Williams and nestled into the corner of the net.
Crewe were having the better of the ball and Chesterfield’s best chance fell to Jak McCourt who fired well wide from distance.
The visitors were constantly probing and were giving the hosts very little to play with as they protected their lead and chased another goal.
Kirk marked his first start of the season with his first senior goal when he doubled the lead for David Artell’s men on 26 minutes.
A well-worked move that started with Ben Garratt passing to Perry Ng to lay the ball off to Callum Ainley who smashed a long ball forward. Chris Porter did well to take the ball down and pass to Chris Dagnall to pick out Kirk inside the area. The academy graduate took the ball wide and managed to squeeze his shot through the legs of Jake Eastwood and over the line.
Chesterfield frontman Chris O’Grady shot wide from the edge of the box as they looked to get back into the game and give the home supporters something to cheer about.
Crewe nearly made it three before the break when the lively Kirk picked out Dagnall on the edge of the box and he curled a shot at goal only for Eastwood to parry the ball at full stretch.
In the second half Chesterfield upped the tempo and Ben Garratt was forced into a good save at the post to deny Louis Reed who did well to direct a header at the back post from Andy Kellett’s cross.
The Spireites were probing and Kritian Dennis headed over when he was left unmarked as a cross came in from the right side.
Both sides made changes, most notably former Chesterfield striker Jordan Bowery came on for the Railwaymen. He had a great chance to extend the score when he raced clean through and had all the time in the world to pick his spot but he smashed the ball horribly wide.
Bowery had another chance as the game wore on, dancing past two players in the area before firing a low a low shot at Eastwood who was equal to the effort to block away.
Crewe managed the game perfectly and wound down the clock to claim the points and Garratt did well to protect his clean sheet in the final moments when he got low to deny substitute Connor Dimaio.
2017/18 Games: 43
2017/18 Grounds: 39 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 188 (51)