Profile of Dave Caldwell

Written by Martin Shaw for FTYBR fanzine issue 42, November 1999

(updated in January 2000, see bottom of this page)


Dave Caldwell was born in Aberdeen in 1960. He joined Mansfield Town at the age of 18 from Highland League club Inverness Caledonian in June 1979.

In 1979/80, he made just 1 appearance plus 2 as substitute. He made his debut at Reading on 29 September 1979 in a 1-0 defeat, coming on as substitute after 76 minutes. Another appearance as substitute followed in the next game at home to Colchester, but he had to wait until April 7 for his full debut in a 2-0 defeat at Brentford.

In 1980/81, Caldwell made 31 appearances (plus 5 as substitute) and scored 11 goals.

He scored his first goal for Mansfield in the 89th minute of the first game of the season - a League Cup tie at Doncaster Rovers. He picked up a long clearance from a Rod Arnold goal-kick just inside the Rovers half and showing all his speed and aggression, he took on several defenders before crashing the ball past the goalkeeper to earn the Stags a draw. Caldwell`s first league goal for the Stags came in the 3rd game of the season. He scored the fourth goal after 87 minutes in a 4-0 thumping of Hereford at Field Mill with a neat finish after some fine work. This game also saw the first league goal for Adrian Burrows. There followed a spell of about a dozen games out of the side, when manager Mick Jones said he was trying to take the pressure off the youngster, because Caldwell `had started to believe he was a good player and thought he didn`t need to prove it`. Caldwell broke his way back into the side for an a FA Cup tie at home goal against Rochdale, and got himself a headline of `Caldwell`s goal to remember` in the Chad, as he crashed a volley into the net after a delicate pass from Russ Allen. Manager Jones said after the game that `Caldwell takes some handling but he`s the sort who scores vital goals.` It was in the next round of the FA Cup that Caldwell scored a memorable goal in a 3-1 win at non-league Mossley. He ran half the length of the field, leaving a couple of defenders for dead, then eeled his way along the bye-line and beat the goalkeeper with a left-foot blast into the top corner of the net. In an exclusive interview with FTYBR in 1992, Caldwell described this goal as the best of his Stags career. He said `I beat the whole team, hit it with my left foot and it went in the top corner. It was unusual to score with my left foot`. The partnership of Russ Allen and Dave Caldwell was proving a real success. Jim Lumby was signed when Russ Allen became injured, and in a 4-1 home win over Crewe, Lumby set up Caldwell to crash in a top drawer effort from 25 yards. In the next match, Stags struck 5 first half goals past Port Vale in a 5-0 win at Field Mill. Caldwell scored twice including a memorable shot on the turn after superbly controlling a cross from winger Brian Thomson. Caldwell scored what turned out to be his final goal of the season on February 7 at home to Bury in a 2-0 win that kept Stags firmly in 3rd place in Division 4. But suspension followed for a string of bookings, and a poor run of form saw Stags miss out on promotion. This culminated in Caldwell`s sending off at the Old Show Ground in Scunthorpe, for kicking a defender who was already on the ground after Caldwell had fouled him. A bad end to the season for Caldwell and for Mansfield which resulted in a sacking for manager Mick Jones.

In 1981/82, Caldwell made 36 appearances (plus 2 as substitute) and scored 10 goals.

He didn`t score his first goal of the season until October 1981 in a 2-2 draw at home to Blackpool. After a pass from Barry Foster, Caldwell rounded the keeper and slotted home a super goal. He didn`t have to wait long for his next goal, four days later after 86 minutes in a 4-3 League Cup win at Bradford, he ran 40 yards with the ball beating 2 defenders and the keeper. (In Jack Retter and Stan Searl`s books, this is classed as an own goal). Three days later he scored again in a 3-3 draw with Hull, with a quite superb individual goal. He collected the ball on the touchline 40 yards from goal, and with a burst of pace that left 2 defenders for dead, he went on before sliding the ball perfectly past the keeper. After the game, manager Stuart Boam said `I have had so many talks with Caldwell about his temperament that I now believe I have finally got through to him.` A barren spell followed with only one goal, in a defeat at Halifax, before Caldwell roared back to scoring form with a powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area in a 3-2 home win over Hartlepool (after Stags had been 2-0 down) in mid-January. By the end of March, the young Scot had only managed an hour of senior action in 14 matches because of a recurring groin injury but marked his return with 2 goals in a 3-2 home win over Halifax. His first goal came when he sprinted from the half way line between two defenders and neatly pushed the ball past the keeper. He then got the winner 2 minutes from time with a header from Gary Nicholson`s free kick. During April, Caldwell was back in cracking form with a series of superb displays including a rocket of a shot from the edge of the area into the roof of the net at home to Scunthorpe. He then scored his tenth and final goal of the season with an angled drive in a 3-1 home win over Torquay in front of just 1,392 at Field Mill, a post-war low attendance for a league match.

In 1982/83, he made 40 appearances (plus 2 as substitute) and scored 10 goals (now corrected to 11 - see bottom of this page).

In September 82, after a quiet start to the season, a disgruntled Caldwell complained that the club were going nowhere and asked for a transfer. But he changed his mind within two weeks and asked to come off the transfer list and apologised for his comments about the club. After a 7 match absence, he scored his first goals of the season in a 3-1 win at Chester in mid-October with 2 simple goals, one a header and one a tap in. Two weeks later, Caldwell scored in a 4-0 win at Hartlepool. He had to wait until mid-December for his next goal, an unstoppable volley following a free kick from Colin Calderwood which left Stags firmly in mid-table. (Then he scored at Wimbledon - see bottom of this page, and the following day ...) he scored against Northampton in a 2-0 win at the end of December after rounding the keeper and planting the ball in the net from an acute angle. With the Stags firmly in mid-table, Stuart Boam was sacked and Ian Greaves appointed as manager. Caldwell soon scored twice in a 3-0 win over a Manchester United XI in a friendly at Field Mill but had to wait 3 months between league goals before scoring in a 3-1 defeat at Bristol City and then scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Crewe 2 days later with a trademark goal. Latching on to Gary Nicholson`s precision pass Caldwell raced into the penalty area skipping round 2 defenders and slipping the ball past the keeper into the net. Five days later he scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Northampton, first latching on to a bad back pass from former Stags player Gary Saxby and then taking advantage of hesitancy by Cobblers` defender Wakeley Gage to score again. His 11th and last goal of the season came in a 2-2 draw with York in mid-April as Stags finished in mid-table.

In 1983/84, he made 41 appearances (plus 2 as substitute) and scored 23 goals.

In September 1983, he was arrested for walking out of Ilkeston Magistrates Court before his case, which related to failing a breath test, as he thought he would miss the team`s coach to an away game at Huddersfield. After the game when he returned to Nottingham, he was arrested and later told the court he had not known the problems that would be caused by him leaving the court. He was banned from driving for a year and fined 120 but allowed to pay 20 per week as his earnings were said to be less than those of the average working man, as reported in the Evening Post. Ironically Caldwell scored his first goal of a prolific season in that game at Huddersfield, in which the Stags were beaten 5-1. At the beginning of October, Caldwell scored the first hat-trick of his career in a 5-2 win against Aldershot at Field Mill (Stags were later to lose 7-1 away to the same side). All 3 goals were clinically finished though amazingly, Caldwell ended the game thinking he had scored four, but one of his goals had been disallowed and it wasn`t until after the game that he found out. A week later he scored again with a superb chip in a 2-2 draw at Bury and in an almost identical incident he also hit the post. On October 19th he was the villain at Elm Park, Reading. He was lectured after only one minute for taking a dig at a defender and was sent off after just 14 minutes after he had swung a punch at Martin Hicks after the two had clashed. Stags went on to lose 4-0 and Caldwell was immediately put on the transfer list, manager Ian Greaves proclaiming `I am sick to death of his childish behaviour. His disciplinary record is appalling and no matter how hard we have tried, he has done nothing to put a stop to it`. Remarkably four days later came the highlight of Caldwell`s career when he scored four goals in a 26 minute spell in a 5-0 win over Hartlepool at Field Mill. His first came when he slipped in a Stewart Barrowclough cross; his second was a volley after a defensive error and his third a fine diving header. But his 4th was more memorable as his thunderous cross from the right touchline flew into the net. I remember the incident so well and it seemed on the day that an inspired Caldwell could do no wrong. But manager Ian Greaves maintained that he would stay on the transfer list until he had learnt his lesson. The Hartlepool side included brothers David and Andy Linighan. David Linighan went on to join the Stags some 16 years later. Ten days later, Caldwell scored 2 more goals in a 3-0 home win over Rochdale to sign off before another suspension. The first goal followed a superb move involving Steve Whitworth, John Matthews and Stewart Barrowclough which left Caldwell with a simple tap-in. His second goal was a trademark goal as he received the ball on the halfway line from Simon Woodhead, surged forward into the penalty area, brilliantly turning a defender, and planting an unstoppable left-foot shot in between the keeper and the near post. In his first game back from suspension, Caldwell scored again when he drilled a shot under the keeper in an FA Cup win over Doncaster. Goals followed at the end of December in a 4-0 win away to Chester (a lob over the keeper) and a superbly taken goal in a 3-3 home draw with Crewe, as Stags ended 1983 five places from the bottom of Division 4. Stags had sunk to third bottom in the Division, before Caldwell scored again, in March, in a 4-3 home defeat by Wrexham. But he roared back to form in April as he scored in 3 successive games, all of which were won, to move Mansfield away from the re-election zone. First he hammered a goal in a 4-0 win at Stockport; 4 days later he lashed in the final goal in a 7-1 thrashing of Halifax, as loanee Ian Juryeff scored a hat-trick; and 4 days after that he blasted home a volley for the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at home to Darlington. In the penultimate game of the season, he scored his third hat-trick of the season in a 3-1 win at Crewe, to ensure safety from the re-election zone. All 3 goals were in an 11 minute spell, as first he side-footed home, then slammed one in from a fine angle to beat keeper Stuart Naylor, and finally he nipped in to convert Simon Woodhead`s centre. He scored 2 more in the final game of the season at home to Northampton, the goals coming after 67 and 76 minutes to secure a 3-1 win. The game was also notable for the first career goal for young Colin Calderwood. Thus Dave Caldwell ended the season on a high and said `I have received my fair share of criticism but the fact is that I have scored 23 goals, and in a side which has struggled all season near the bottom.` He added `As it stands, I will be playing for Mansfield next season although, personally, I think I will not be asked to stay.` However 3 days later, he was offered a new contract.

In 1984/85, Caldwell made 25 appearances (plus 1 as substitute) and scored 11 goals.

He made a flying start to the season scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 win at Port Vale in the opening game of the season. It was another stunning goal just before half time as he raced on to a free kick from Steve Whitworth on the right flank and blasted an unstoppable dipping shot into the net from an angle. He scored again in the second league game as Stags dispatched Rochdale 5-1, racing clear wide on the right to plant a fierce right footed shot into the bottom of the net. His next goal came in a 1-1 draw at Stockport as he turned sharply to score from the edge of the box. Injury kept him out for a few games and Stags went 6 hours without scoring before Caldwell scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Chester at Field Mill. It was a typically brilliant goal that broke the deadlock as he wove past several challenges before planting a left foot shot into the roof of the net. Eight minutes later he scored again, heading home a Mick Vinter cross. In the first round of the FA Cup, Stags beat Rotherham 2-1 at Field Mill as Caldwell burst through the Millers` defence to score after only 11 seconds. But only a week later, the Scot shocked Mansfield by putting in a transfer request saying he needed a new challenge after 5 years at the club. Ian Greaves announced that Caldwell was a good player he could not afford to lose but he did not want to keep a player at the club who did not want to be there. Four games later, on December 22nd, Caldwell scored both goals in a 2-0 win at home to Northampton, firstly superbly rounding off a great through ball from Mark Kearney and then converting a Mick Vinter cross. But incredibly, straight after the game, Caldwell departed on loan to second division Carlisle saying that if he had not found a new club by December 29th, he would go back to Scotland and give up professional football altogether. After two months, Caldwell returned to Field Mill but immediately joined Swindon Town on loan with a view to a permanent move. Ian Greaves commented `He didn`t say much about his spell at Carlisle but he clearly wasn`t too happy and only too glad to get off to Swindon. The position hasn`t changed – he still wants to leave Mansfield.` He returned to Field Mill after a month after another unsuccessful loan spell. Further injuries and suspension followed as the Scot played only one game for Stags between December and April 24th. Two final goals followed; firstly a simple goal in a 2-2 draw at Scunthorpe and then the winning goal after 74 minutes in the Freight Rover Trophy northern area semi-final at Bolton. The goal came as Caldwell raced on to Mick Vinter`s flick over the square defence before coolly rounding the keeper to score in front of 1000 jubilant travelling Stags` fans. His final game in a Stags` shirt came in the Freight Rover Trophy northern area final against Wigan at Field Mill as Stags lost on penalties to miss out on a chance to go to Wembley. It turned out to be a very sad end to Caldwell`s career at Field Mill.

Before the start of the following season, Caldwell joined Chesterfield for 12,000, in the same week as Colin Calderwood left for Swindon, and Keith Cassells and Neville Chamberlain arrived at Field Mill.

So in total, Dave Caldwell made 174 appearances for Stags (plus 14 as substitute) and scored 65 goals (now corrected to 66 - see bottom of this page). He was booked 36 times for the Stags, sent off twice, and received an astonishing 8 suspensions.

He remained for two years at Chesterfield, but towards the end of his spell at Saltergate he picked up 2 suspensions and in November 1987 he was sold to Torquay United for just 4,000. He was then sent off on 3 further occasions and picked up an 8 match suspension. He was transferred to Belgian club K V Overpelt in August 1988. He was loaned back to Torquay United in December 1989, and also played in South Africa, before joining Chesterfield again in October 1990. He was finally released by Chesterfield in May 1992.


Follow up to "Dave Caldwell - His Mansfield Town career" in Issue 42 of

Update in January 2000

By Martin Shaw

A few weeks after my profile of Dave Caldwell was published in issue 42 of
FTYBR, I decided to publish the article in the "Vintage Stags" area of the
Stagsnet website.

Imagine my surprise when, just a few days later, I received an e-mail from
the man himself, who had been surfing the Stagsnet site.

Here's what Dave said in his e-mail:

Your profile of myself was entertaining and brought back memories of past
glories. In November I attended a surprise birthday party of another
player, Derek Dawkins. Down memory lane we shared stories of dressing room
Best Regards
Dave Caldwell

I replied to Dave asking what he was doing now and asking for clarification
of a particular goal, that had confused me when I researched for the
profile. This is what I said in my e-mail:

Dear Dave
Many thanks for your e-mail which was both a surprise and a thrill
for me, since you are one of my all-time Stags heroes.
I have a question for you which came up when I was researching for
the profile of you, which was published in the Follow The Yellow Brick Road
(Stags) fanzine, and which I put on the Stagsnet website.
On 27 Dec 1982, Stags played at Wimbledon in Div 4, and drew 1-1,
with Stags getting a last minute equaliser. I remember the game quite well
as I was there, and I went to another match (QPR v Chelsea) later the same
Anyway at the time, the goal was credited to you. But all the
record books now credit that goal at Wimbledon to Gary Nicholson, even
though, as I said, all the local papers (CHAD, Evening Post, Recorder)
credited it to you at the time.
John Matthews swept over a magnificent crossfield pass and you (or
Nicholson) thundered in a sweetly hit shot to score in the last minute.
Dungworth was sent off 10 minutes earlier.
The following day, 28 Dec, you scored as Stags beat Northampton 2-0
at Field Mill.
So, can you throw any light on it? Do you remember it?
Please let me know.
May I ask what you are doing now, and in which part of the country
you live?
Many thanks once again.

Dave duly replied. This is what he said:

First to answer your question on who scored the goal : I did.
I remember at the time Gary Nicholson, who was a bit of a joker, denied that
I had scored and for a laugh told reporters that of course it was him, .
hence the confusion.
In answer to your question about where am I, and what am I
doing: After leaving Chesterfield due to a cartilage problem, I then
signed for the first senior team I had played for, this being Inverness
Caley. After then I played for a Highland League team based in Aberdeen.
this time I fell into a job as a sales executive for an office equipment
business. My next step was into part time football management with a
Highland League Club. After a successful season I was offered a job as group
sales manager for a Xerox Concessionaire based in Edinburgh. The job offer
was too good to turn down so I currently live in Edinburgh and have
completely given up football. I have channeled all my efforts into running
three offices throughout Scotland.
Best Regards, Dave Caldwell

So, I have to correct my summary of Dave Caldwell's career for the Stags. He
scored 66 goals for Mansfield, not 65 goals!!
Thanks to Dave for taking the trouble to write.