Downes relishing challenge of marking friend and top-scorer Lester
Aaron Downes will set aside a close friendship and a huge respect in the cause of beating his old club Chesterfield this weekend.
Torquay United’s Aussie centre-back is looking forward to locking horns with veteran striker Jack Lester at the Proact Stadium on Saturday.
Downes, who moved to Plainmoor this summer after eight years and nearly 200 games for Chesterfield, said: “I’ve known Jack for even longer than we were teammates – I played against him when he was at Nottingham Forest.
“He’s a very good friend of mine, but I also have nothing but respect for him on the pitch.
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I played with him a lot of times and played against him in training just as many. The amount of goals he’s scored for Chesterfield in the years he’s been there, and his goals-per-game ratio, compares with some of the best strikers around.
“At the age of 36, he’s still one of the best players in this league. He’s very professional and he’s a winner.
“He can’t stand losing or being second-best, and he’s a great personality to have in the changing room. That’s why he has lasted so long in the game.
“It’s no surprise that Jack is already top scorer there again, and he’s definitely still the ‘go-to’ man at Chesterfield.”
Lester, who has also played for Grimsby, Doncaster, Nottingham Forest twice and Sheffield United, has scored 168 career goals in more than 600 senior appearances. He has already hit the net five times this season.
Downes stressed: “I’m looking forward to playing against him. After Saturday’s game I’m sure we’ll have a beer together, but we’re on opposite teams now and I’ll be trying my darndest to beat him on the pitch.”
Downes, who played for the Spireites from 2004-2012, does not anticipate a hostile reception at the Proact Stadium.
“Chesterfield home and away were the first games I looked for on the fixture list this season,” he said, “more so away. “You never know what to expect when you go back to your old club, but I would have thought I would get a warm reception.
“I always gave 100 per cent there, I cared about the club and I was always treated with warmth by the fans. But I’ll take whatever comes.”
Meanwhile, Torquay United are expected to hold a minute’s silence before next Tuesday’s home game against Aldershot in memory of John Bond, who has died at the age of 79.
Although Bond became best-known for his managerial exploits with Norwich City, Manchester City and Swansea City among others, he was also a top-class player who spent four happy years as a key man in one of Torquay’s best-ever teams in the late Sixties.
Essex-born Bond played nearly 450 games over 16 years with West Ham United, where he helped the Hammers into the old First Division in 1958 and won the FA Cup in 1964, before his ex-Upton Park teammate Frank O’Farrell persuaded him to join Torquay in 1965.
United won promotion in Bond’s first season and then knocked on the door of what is now the Championship for several years. He ended up making 145 league and cup appearances, scoring 13 goals.
Bond was a popular figure on the pitch, and behind the counter of his newsagents, Bondy’s Tuck Shop, which he opened in the Torre area of town.