|RamsWeek 17 - Derby Pride|
Mon 27th Apr 2009 02:01 by Paul Mortimer
After defeat by Championship leaders Wolves and the disappointing display at Crystal Palace, Derby County still looked down the League table with some unease about their 18th position.
The Rams faced a tough game against promotion contenders Reading on Tuesday, before their closing home game of the season at home to relegated Charlton Athletic.
The visit of Reading on Tuesday saw another postponement of Derby’s sighs of relief; they were unable to secure Championship safety as the Royals ran out 2-0 winners.
Luke Varney, returning from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, started in place of Sterjovski and had a lively game. Robbie Savage put in a lot of good work and Barry Bannan was neat and intelligent alongside him in midfield.
Early warning signs saw Reading have efforts chalked off due to offsides and they always looked dangerous in attack. It was 0-0 at half time but the stronger Reading side took command after the break and had too much for Derby to handle. Dave Kitson headed home on 56 minutes and the Royals seldom looked likely to give up their advantage.
Derby’s square defence was exposed on 73 minutes and Long shoved the ball in for 2-0. Derby huffed and puffed but couldn’t dent Reading’s resolve, so the Rams were still seeking those safety points whilst Reading advanced to the play-offs.
Steve Coppell thought that the Pride Park Stadium pitch was superb, which was little consolation for us Rams fans hoping that we could be watching a Derby team able to put in compact and impressive performances as consistently as the top six sides wherever they play.
There were almost 31,400 to see the game and with the modest compliment of Reading fans attending to witness their team win vital play-off points, the Rams faithful following remains remarkable.
Manager Nigel Clough acknowledged that Reading were the more accomplished side and could only look forward to the Saturday game at home to Charlton Athletic to finally seal Derby’s Championship consolidation.
In keeping with the first team’s fine form in the cups this season, the Rams’ reserves had progressed to the Reserve League Cup Final, which was contested against Sunderland at Pride Park Stadium this week. The Rams lost out 3-1 however, despite fielding such as Barazite (who scored Derby’s goal), Carroll, Pearson, Villa and Sterjovski.
The laughable Tyrone Mears, now out of the frame at Marseille, piped up again on how he must move to a club befitting his talents so as to be involved in Europe and the top flight. Most will agree with Adam Pearson in reminding him that he has ideas above his station - and there is no queue at Pride Park Stadium of clubs clamouring for his signature.
It would be good to get a fee for him (and a few other comfort-zone misfit plodders) but no doubt a few will undeservedly get a nice fat contract pay off just so that Derby can be shut of the detritus of previous regimes.
Saturday was billed as Rams Fan Day with added attractions in and around Pride Park Stadium. All of the youth teams were paraded to the crowd and a host of 60s Rams legends made an appearance on the pitch.
Spain-based musician and Rams fanatic Kev Moore gave a lusty rendition of his witty “Commons People”, based on Jarvis Cocker’s classic song, from the centre circle. Before that, Kev had enjoyed a launch event for his new CD of Rams songs over at the JJB Soccerdome with RamsTrust, where many fans stopped by to meet him and grab a signed copy of his entertaining CD “Fan Fayre for the Commons People”.
Somewhat less successful was the club’s idea of inviting opera tenor Thomas Spencer-Wortley to give a rendition of “Steve Bloomer’s Watching”. It was rather out of synch and disjointed and the idea of fading the original Pride Park Posse recording in and out around verses rendered by Mr Wortley-Jones wasn’t exactly a threat to Pavarotti’s “Nessun Dorma!”
A tip for DCFC: invite Kev Moore back for the first game of the new season so he can belt out his updated rock version of the Rams’ SBW anthem, if you want to kick off 2009-10 in style!
Rob Hulse deservedly won the Jackie Stamps Trophy as Derby County Player of the Year and the battling centre forward has put in a strong shift for the club. He’s completed more than 50 games and taken a fair battering from defenders whilst contending with what seems to be a quite different set of rules from referees when he himself is being fouled.
Hulse has recovered from his injury setbacks at Bramall Lane and is one of Derby’s biggest assets. He is an example to a fair few other players regarding effort, resilience, commitment and end product and should look forward to another good season in 2009-10. as far as the fans are concerned this season, Rob Hulse is Derby’s pride personified!
Miles Addison, badly missed in defence or midfield since his February injury, collected the Young Player of the Year award and August can’t come around quick enough for some of Derby’s promising but sidelined players to enhance their contribution to the club.
Another 31,500 turned up on Saturday and with only a small and defiant band of Valiants' fans in the away end, the home team got all the backing they wanted as they battled to put worries of the drop behind them.
It was a nervy opening half, with Charlton drawing on their recent improvement and Derby desperate not to concede a goal whilst probing for an opening. The Rams didn’t manage an effort on goal until the 17th minute however and the first period was another worrying anti-climax, the half-time whistle drawing a few grumblings from the crowd.
Clough obviously told Derby to get about their business and the first few minutes of the second half saw a few close things in the Charlton goalmouth, with Hulse and Albrechtsen putting headers wide. Commons was booked for getting fouled in the Charlton area but the Rams eventually gained the upper hand.
Fittingly, it was Rob Hulse weighing in with another vital goal after 70 minutes when Barry Bannan headed a clearance from a Derby corner kick back into the mix. Rob looped a careful header beyond goalkeeper Rob Elliott to finally ease his team’s lingering nerves. More confidence came into their play and Kris Commons shimmied himself into good positions a couple of times and sent fine efforts flashing just beyond the goal.
At last, Derby were home and dry as far as consolidation was concerned and stand 16th in the table on 54 points. The excitable elements in the crowd ignored Nigel Clough’s requests for everyone to stay in their seats at the end to allow players and staff to tour the pitch for a circuit of appreciation of the fans. A pitch invasion at full time meant that the team could only wave from the director’s box.
It was an expression of relief and a demonstration of loyalty no doubt, with the giant Super Rams flag fluttering happily as we all hoped to have something really worth cheering in a year’s time.
It’s not been pretty, it’s not often been entertaining, and everyone wants something rather better next season. There’s only the concluding trip to Watford next week before a disappointing season can be put behind us and we then eagerly await Mr Clough’s decisions and dealings for re-shaping the squad.
It seems that about 5 newcomers and 10 departures will be the order of the day so there will be a fair bit of movement, as well as a re-shaping of the Moor Farm Academy and coaching complement.
Congrats finally to Burton Albion in securing Football League status as Champions of the Blue Square Premier. With such a long dominance and extended points lead at the top of the table, Brewers' supporters endured a different kind of tension to Rams fans.
The chasing teams whittled away Burton’s lead and the disruption of Nigel Clough (and his staff) departing the Pirelli Stadium for Derby gave Roy McFarland a job still to finish - but finish it they did.
So there is even more Derby pride for Nigel, ex-Rams legend Roy McFarland and Chairman Ben Robinson and all to reflect upon, as their 58-year history now sees them reach their highest achievement.
Now we want a 2009-10 League Cup clash between the Rams and the Brewers to come out of the hat - that would spice things up more than the usual pre-season friendly between the clubs!
RamsWeek 17 last season saw changes at the club under the heading of ‘Make a new plan, Stan’, as Paul Jewell’s sidekick Stan Ternent left the club (the partnership did not render one single League victory for Derby County) to be replaced by Chris Hutchings.
New Academy manager Phil Cannon took up the reins at Moor Farm and David Lowe joined him as Academy coach. In the unstable ways of Derby County, none of the above-named personnel remain at Derby County and here’s to a long and settled staff regime being established under Nigel Clough to give the club the unity, direction and success that the fanbase deserves.
Derby didn’t have a fixture that week because of TV scheduling changes and fixture revisions from Cup and European commitments of opponents, so the rest of the Premier League relegation battlers above the Rams scrapped it out for precious points, before Derby faced Arsenal the following week.
You need to login in order to post your comments