More downs than ups for Derby this decade
It’s not been a great decade for Derby County Football Club.
The euphoria of one promotion has been heavily outweighed by two relegations from the Premier League – and virtually every season since the Millennium has ended in a battle at the wrong end of the table. With 2009/10 included, we’ve lost more games than we won in eight out of the ten seasons since 2000/01, with an overall goal difference of -161.
On the other hand, at least we’ve finished above Notts Forest in seven seasons this decade – and we haven’t suffered the indignity of spending any time in League One.
The obvious decade highlight is the successful 2006/07 Championship Play-Off campaign.
Our penalty shoot-out win against Southampton at Pride Park in the semis was a fantastic night. It had everything. We lost the game 3-2 after extra-time, then watched as our former hero Inigo Idiakez skied the crucial spot-kick into the dismayed army of Saints fans behind the goal.
Cue a pitch invasion in relentless rain, though I hardly noticed that as I walked across the pitch, pumping my fists in the direction of the West Stand. Another ex-Ram, Grzegorz Rasiak, wandered past me, head down; he looked gone out and absolutely desolate, so I patted him on the back in consolation.
A handful of grass from the pitch found its way into my back pocket and my first pint, supped whilst still soaking wet through after the match, tasted unreal.
Victory against West Bromwich Albion at Wembley followed. I will never forget the moment when Stephen Pearson scored and Derby’s fans took the roof off the new national stadium, but Billy Davies took the gloss of the achievement straight away.
By the time we were on the motorway back North, he’d already told the media he didn’t know whether he’d be staying as manager. By the time the season started, he had completely failed to prepare a squad fit for Premier League purpose.
I could point to the emergence of a couple of genuinely Premier League, potentially England-class footballers from our academy – but sadly, Tom Huddlestone was sold for a fraction of his worth by the now-convicted crooks who ran our club at the time, whilst the prodigiously gifted Giles Barnes’ career has been blighted by a succession of long-term injuries.
But fortunately, there have been at least a few untainted highlights. In 2006/07, there was victory at Elland Road for the first time in too long, as Leeds United plummeted towards the third tier.
Then last season, a Kris Commons howitzer gave us a stunning 1-0 win over a strong Manchester United side in the semi-final of the League Cup. But for the pick of the bunch, I’ll have to go for beating Forest twice at the City Ground last season.
Having been sporting enough to give them a two goal start, Nigel Clough’s men proceeded to dump our dear old chums out of the FA Cup; then in the league, the 3-1 romp was so comprehensive that it was mostly the massed ranks of Derby supporters who cheered Forest’s late ‘consolation’ goal.
A photo of Steve Davies slotting home a penalty to make it 3-0 accompanies this article. Hint to Derby fans…it makes a lovely screensaver!
It was taken by my mate Stu, who then calmly videoed a portly Forest supporter going into total meltdown in the Bridgford Upper, shortly before he was escorted from the premises by stewards.
Here’s to the future.
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