Sam Hird interview: Chesterfield and Doncaster can both land play-off spots

Sam Hird
Sam Hird

Sam Hird knows a thing or two about the play-offs - and he reckons both his current and former team have what it takes to finish in the top six.

The 27-year-old defender is set to line up against Doncaster for the first time this weekend since leaving Rovers to join Chesterfield in 2012.

Hird has only good things to say about his hometown team - and fondly recalled being part of the Rovers team that memorably defeated Leeds United at Wembley in the League One play-off final when he spoke to the Free Press this week.

And the former Campsmount School pupil is convinced that both Chesterfield and Doncaster - who boasted identical league records prior to the Spireites’ win over Crawley on Tuesday night - could yet meet again at the end of the regular season.

“Doncaster’s aims are very much the same as ours,” said Hird. “The play-offs are the target.

“Doncaster have got good players and on their day they’re capable of beating anybody. They’ve picked up a bit recently. Andy Butler’s gone in there and made them more defensively solid.

“We’ve been pretty consistent, bar a little blip in October, November time.

“There’s some good teams in this league. Swindon are the team that have impressed me most.

“There’s probably about nine or ten teams who could still break into that top six, but I think ourselves and Doncaster can both can get in there.”

After winning League Two last season, Chesterfield have taken to the third tier like the proverbial duck to water and have won plenty of plaudits for their fluid, attacking style.

And it is their positive approach which Hird believes has been key to their form in League One.

“I think it’s the way we play,” he said.

“We’re a footballing side. We like to get it down and play.

“I think in general teams in all the divisions are trying to play more football.

“Football’s moved on so much from the days of teams playing a direct style.

“The game is definitely evolving, in terms of the sort of coaching that’s going on behind the scenes.

“We’ve got a good squad, a good group that work hard.

“There’s a really positive feeling around this club and we’ve taken on the momentum that we generated last season.”

Hird departed Doncaster three summers ago when his contract expired following the club’s relegation from the Championship under Dean Saunders, stating at the time he needed a fresh challenge.

Since leaving his hometown club the former Leeds United trainee has had his ups and downs - but his respect for Rovers remains constant.

“John Sheridan signed me and then left after three games of the season,” recalled Hird.

“When the new manager [Paul Cook] eventually came in obviously he brought in his own players and at one stage it looked like I was leaving.

“But during the next pre-season I had a good chat with him, played the first nine or ten games of the promotion season and never looked back really.

“Last season was a good season. This season I’ve been out for three months with a posterior cruciate knee ligament injury but luckily I didn’t need surgery and I’ve got myself back fit and in the team.

“It’ll be a special game for me this weekend,” he added.

“I was suspended for the JPT game [in 2012] and injured earlier in the season, so touch wood I’ll be in the team on Saturday.

“I look back at my time at Doncaster very fondly.

“I didn’t make as many starts as I would’ve liked but football is more and more of a squad game these days and it was an honour to play for my hometown club.

“The obvious highlight was being in that team that beat Leeds at Wembley.

“My family are all from Doncaster and they’ll all be there on Saturday - although they’ll definitely be supporting me and Chesterfield.”