|Derby Down Under - Nemesis|
Sat 01st Nov 2008 07:45 by Daniel J Sewart
All great heroes need a quintessential villain who strives to prove their superiority. For example ‘Sherlock Holmes' has 'Moriarty’, ‘Doctor Who’ has the ‘Daleks’ and Derby County has the ultimate nemesis in Nottingham Forrest.
Everyone needs a rival who above all others makes the contest more intense whenever their horns are locked. Whether it is top level or amateur sport, a bloke at your local pubs weekly trivia night or in my case a Liverpool supporting sports journalist who thinks he is the PS3 equivalent of Torres when we clash in a game of online FIFA (it would be closer to the truth if Torres had one eye and a cowlick).
Having that ultimate challenger defines everything that a sporting club is about. Even the most casual fans find the heart on their sleeve beating faster and their mouth starting to grow bigger when a local derby is imminent. Boasts and bets are made with no thought that these words may have to be eaten and debts be paid. That is because no matter what is said or promised there is no conceivable way they can lose.
The biggest difference from my point of view of an Australian is that in my countries traditional sports such as Aussie Rules and Rugby League a draw is nearly an impossible occurrence, therefore it is nearly always a winner takes all affair with no possible respite if your team is put to the sword.
In the case of Football a draw allows a certain amount of pride to be taken by both sets of fans. Mind you, the upper hand can still be claimed by those lower on the table or playing away from home as they will argue about having to overcome a greater challenge.
Another debate that often rears its head during a local derby revolves around how much today’s highly paid journeymen care about these games in comparison to those who pulled on their clubs shirts in the past. It is true in most cases that they could not personally regard it as much as players in years gone by unless of course they are local talent which although not as common (no pun intended Kris) still occurs from time to time (come home Chris Riggot… we need you!!).
With players having to live and frequent the towns they are based in, their heart may not bleed teams colours to the extent of life long fans but if they want to be looked upon with the envy and respect of the fans they represent, winning these games is a massive step towards that.
Underperforming in one of these matches can meet with scorn and derision as much as a stunning display can make you a hero for life even if you play like a scarecrow for the rest of your career. For example I would hope Paul Peschilidio never pays for a cup of coffee whenever he returns to Derby County (may I clarify to Pechi in no way did you play like the aforementioned scarecrow outside of that game, mind you… your haircut did have a slightly Worzel look about it!?).
When the Rams were promoted it was a dark hour for Forrest fans as they resided in the depths of the lower leagues. They lacked ammunition to mount an argument their chargers were in any way superior to the Rams. Things took a twist from their as Forrest managed promotion as Derby managed the greatest self destruction in Premiership history. These two occurrences set up a mouth watering clash for fans when the next season arrived. They now are thirsty for revenge to erase the years of derision they have endured.
Come Sunday afternoon will Paul Jewell be able to deliver a present to fans by putting one over the trees (as apposed to the traditional placing of presents under them that occurs eight weeks later). Jewell in the ‘Derby Evening Telegraph’ stated: "The supporters have been absolutely brilliant," "I do not say that flippantly, I do not say that to try to curry favour with them. Their support has been the shining light that has kept me going and it would be lovely if we can get a result for them on Sunday”.
We think it would be lovely too Paul, no bow or wrapping required just tell them to put it in the box, then the net and that will be just fine!
As the calendar finally turns to the game and a Sunday that has seemed like a million years away since the fixtures were announced, now looms over us all. Like the playoff final at Wembley it is great to finally be there but if we lose, what then? Derby have been superior all season but with the trees showing signs of improving form will our worst nightmares come true.
Excitement and fear mix like a cheap cocktail at a seedy nightclub, only the best looking person at the bar talking to you could make it all worthwhile (that is my entrant in Eurovision’s ‘worst analogy ever’, voting details to follow).
Soon tens of thousands of supporters will pack into Pride Park stadium; hundreds of thousands like me will be glued to the Sky coverage on TV across the world or tune in via the internet. However fans are able to take in the game, there will be no relief until the game is won and Forrest are reminded they will not be going past Derby in a hurry. That said there is probably a columnist on their website writing a similar thing about Forrest, it is sad that they are obviously deluded and blatantly incorrect.
One final hero I neglected to mention in my opening paragraph was ‘Robin Hood’, a mythical character who the Rams opposition attempt to claim as their own even though historians believe his origins were more likely to have been elsewhere such as ‘Yorkshire’. Considering Robins nemesis was the evil ‘Sheriff of Nottingham’ who was without doubt a local, one can only assume before moving into the forest with his merry men his family were in fact from somewhere in Derbyshire. C’mon it’s the only thing that makes sense!
If a tree falls in Pride Park…everyone will hear… the roar of the Rams faithful!
C’mon Ewe Rams!!
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Daniel J Sewart