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One Moment In Time

10 May 2013

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It's often said that you will always remember where you were when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot (assuming you were of an age to remember anything at all). 

I'm not suggesting that the assassination of an American President and the announcement of Jack Lester's departure from Chesterfield FC are in any way comparable in terms of their global significance but on a purely personal level I know that in both cases I'll always remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.

I was only 10 years old when Kennedy was shot. My mum and dad had gone to the cinema and I was at home in the company of the babysitter - the perfect alibi. I was watching my favourite sitcom which was suddenly interrupted with a newsflash announcing the President had been shot. 

The sitcom was the hilarious (to a ten year old) "Here's Harry" featuring the great (to a ten year old) Harry Worth. I couldn't understand why the BBC had felt it necessary to disrupt my evening's viewing and why the babysitter was so shocked at the news. 

The significance of the dramatic event (as I now know it to be) was completely lost on me. Given my young age I think that's entirely understandable. 

My discovery of Jack's departure had a far greater impact on me personally than did the news of the other Jack's tragic demise nearly 50 years earlier. 

I'd struggled for two days to get the Wi-Fi connection working in my hotel room in Seville and when I finally succeeded I logged on to the Spireites' web page and was shocked to find that Jack Lester would be leaving Chesterfield at the end of the season. 

The news was somehow even more shocking because it was over 24 hours old and I'd been enjoying the sights of Seville in total ignorance of the dramatic events unfolding back home.  Whether or not it was right time for Jack to go is irrelevant - he was always going to leave at some point. 

It was sad to say goodbye to a player who has won the hearts and minds of all Chesterfield supporters with his performances and goals over the last six years. 

The fans have granted him the ultimate accolade - the right to be referred to by his first name only (the prefix 'Super' or 'Sir' is often used but is not grammatically essential). I can think of only one other player who has been similarly honoured - Ernie. Messrs. Ernie Moss and Jack Lester are right at the top of my legends list.

As readers of the Bob's Board message board will be well aware, some people regard the response to the news of Jack's departure as an over-reaction and unduly emotional; the point has rightly been made that no-one has died and Chesterfield Football Club will continue with or without him. 

My reply to that would be that football is about emotion. You could even say it's only about emotion. The game is not an end in itself - it doesn't save lives, clean the streets, produce Mars Bars or do anything at all that might be regarded as 'useful'. So once you take emotion out of the equation then there's nothing left. 

If you support a football club then you have an emotional investment in that club. For many people the relationship they have with their club is far stronger than they can explain and maybe even stronger than they would like (nothing spoils a week like a defeat to Rotherham!).

The point I'm trying to make is that if the departure of a much-loved player from your football club is not a cause for emotion then what is? I didn't break down in floods of tears when he played his last game for us but I did feel a sense of loss because I'll never see one of my favourite ever players in a Chesterfield shirt again. That's emotion. 

Of course other favourites will emerge from among those yet to have the honour of playing for Chesterfield. Most of them will eventually fade from memory and a few will go on to achieve legendary status but I suspect it will be a very long time before we see anyone to rank alongside Jack.

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