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LFW Awaydays - Derby County, Pride Park
LFW Awaydays - Derby County, Pride Park
Monday, 6th Sep 2010 18:53 by Awaydays

A late, late show on the pitch and a later than anticipated night out in Derby as the Northern R’s hit the road again last weekend.

On the pitch

It’s a bit hard to know where to start this section this week as I missed the best bit. The 91 minutes of action I saw were heavily weighted in Derby’s favour – the Rams worked very hard, successfully kept our better players out of the game, and were good value for their 2-0 lead going into stoppage time at the end of the game. It was one of those “we wouldn’t score if we stayed here all night” moments, so I didn’t, turning instead and heading for the pub as the stoppage time board went up in the hope of being far enough away from the ground by the time they launched into another bloody chorus of Steve Bloomer’s Watching.


So as far as I’m concerned the QPR performance was pretty abject and the Derby one pretty impressive. Ultimately though credit must go to QPR never giving up and fighting back in stoppage time during which they scored twice and survived a one on one with Paddy Kenny at the other end all in three minutes. And the main criticism of Derby on the day would be their tactics of simply kicking for touch, wasting time, and then passing up an opportunity to maintain possession when they had it at 2-1 in stoppage time that enabled QPR to score. Rangers showed great determination, the Rams tremendous naivety, and in the end neither team really got what it deserved when you assess the whole 90 minutes.


For QPR Taarabt was quiet – hindered, though not totally marked out of the game as the man himself suggests, by Robbie Savage who was nevertheless impressive for Derby. I do wonder whether things would have turned out more in QPR’s favour had Taarabt scored an early one on one chance with Bywater after wriggling away from Savage’s clutches and slipping between two defenders in the box. Jamie Mackie followed that shot up but saw his effort blocked, his work rate and equalising goal made him the top QPR man. Taarabt wasn’t alone in putting a below par performance in though – Orr and Faurlin both had their worst games for the club so far and Connolly and Gorkss really struggled, especially when Cywka came on in the second half.


Ultimately Rangers were hugely fortunate to get anything out of the game at all – but it’s that ability to fight back when not playing well that lifts you above sides that play well but allow opportunities to pass them by as Derby did.


Scores >>> QPR performance 5/10 >>> Opposition performance 7/10 >>> Referee performance 4/10


In the stand

It’s a fairly easy trip up the M1 or Midland mainline from London for QPR fans, and after a fine start to the season it was no surprise to see in excess of 1500 R’s in attendance at Pride Park. As far as the ground goes, it’s all a bit same old same old. It’s a new ground with no soul, it’s way out of the city centre in the middle of an industrial estate, the roads around it are a nightmare before and after the game and pubs are few and far between in the immediate vicinity.


It is though, as new grounds go, one of the better ones. Firstly Derby do actually get close to filling it and creating an atmosphere, although the number of empty seats increases every time we visit here as the Rams continue to languish in the lower reaches of this division. Still, a good crowd and a good atmosphere for the most part and although it’s hard to distinguish one new ground from another most of the time Derby are at least doing their bit to put their mark on Pride Park – an impressive statue of Clough and Taylor was unveiled outside the ground before the match, if only there was scope at Loftus Road for us to do similar things for our legends.


We had to sit where we were told in the away end, as opposed to the usual unreserved policy, although we just decamped to the top right hand corner of the away end where there were some spare seats knocking around and we could all watch the game together. The more boisterous element of the QPR support joined us up there before kick off and, apart from a few kicks in the back from one of the more inebriated members of the brethren, that wasn’t a problem at all. The chant about paying the Derby fans’ benefits raised a smile, the one about Robbie Savage looking like a girl was the stuff of six year olds on an infant school playground. Surely to Christ we can do better than that? The stewards waded in a couple of times to throw QPR fans out, although they weren’t in the same league as the officious bastards at Sheff Utd last time out.


Savage wound the away supporters up in the second half – racing over to an incident where a QPR attack had been interrupted by the referee who wanted Shaun Barker to receive treatment for an injury he inflicted on himself through crass incompetence to applaud the official’s actions and continue applauding while looking at the QPR fans. Why he felt that necessary, other than because he’s one of life’s genuine knobs, is beyond me. At that point it looked like the game was lost and so any abuse directed back his way had a hollow ring to it – one of the biggest regrets I have from the day, apart from missing the goals, is missing the look on Savage’s face at full time. And, for that matter, the reaction of the fat Derby fan in the club’s away shirt (40+ year old men in replica shirts? Discuss) who had plenty to say in the direction of the away end throughout the game but was probably a little subdued at the end.


Points off for the number who lost faith and left before the end, and it certainly wasn’t just me.


Scores >>> QPR support 7/10 >>> Home support 7/10 >>> Overall atmosphere 7/10 >>> Stadium 7/10 >>> Police and stewards 6/10


On the road

I quite like East Midlands Trains. As far as train companies go they’re not over expensive, you can always get from one end of their line to the other for £30 or less, the trains are frequent and rarely overcrowded and, touch wood, I’ve never had any severe delays with them. However since moving to Corby they have started to irritate me slightly.


For instance, the only trains that stop at Kettering are the ones that go to Nottingham. So it’s impossible to meet friends coming down for home games from Sheffield as the Sheffield train goes straight through Kettering, and similarly I had to change at Leicester on my way to Derby because none of the Kettering trains go to Derby on a Saturday. It all seems a little daft and surely there must be a way of alternating so some Sheffield trains stop there and some don’t. Anyway, geeky train complaint of the day out of the way.


I got a lift into Kettering from my girlfriend who then went off to a family reunion, not complaining too loudly about me choosing to go to the football instead to her credit, and I used the change in Leicester to try and scout out some better pubs than the Walkabout for our visit there later in September. I failed. God it’s a poor place for pubs Leicester. I met Tracey on the Derby train, she’d invested in a first class ticket for the journey north but claimed it had seen ruined by the presence of a screaming child so was happy to come and sit with me in the cheap seats and regale me with a tale of woe from during the week where a friend of hers scratched an insect bite off his foot and nearly bled to death as a result. Just what you need before breakfast.


I was supposed to head back on the 6pm train with Tracey but, as will become apparent shortly, the euphoria of the comeback kept us in Derby late into the night and in the end I was on the very last train south of the night. They kicked me out at Loughborough, although I think that was a scheduled change, and then again at Kettering for Corby. There was some unpleasantness at Kettering where the rigours of the day caught up with me and I may, or may not British Transport Police, have been a little ill. Then rather than wait 40 minutes for a Corby train I jumped on the Corby bus which was handily sitting outside the station as I arrived.


There and back for £13.


Scores >>> Journey 7/10 >>> Cost 7/10


In the pub

Many moons ago at Colchester the Northern R’s set the record for most ejections from pubs in a single day – I think we managed eight between noon and 3pm. The problem that day was that we were wearing QPR shirts under jackets, so there’d be no problems with the door staff but as soon as we got inside and removed the coats a home fans only policy was quickly enforced and we were turned around. Ultimately we sat and sweated at the back of the Wetherspoons I think.


That was a dire day and since then a strict dress code policy has been in force on our away trips – nothing must be warn that could distinguish us as QPR fans to pub staff. Even when Paul is with us with his chav hair and dodgy beard our travelling party doesn’t exactly look like football fans on a day out and we haven’t had a problem since.


The non-threatening appearance did us big favours at Derby where we were able to gain access to the Waterfall opposite the train station which operates a home fans only policy. I like the Waterfall because it’s got plenty of space, it has the live football on at lunchtime, the food is passable, it’s walking distance from the ground and it rarely gets too full. The doormen are pretty relaxed with their home fans only policy, we saw a guy at the bar with a QPR tattoo on his leg for instance, but Tracey insisted on exaggerating a story for them anyway and was out there for a good five minutes asking who Derby were playing and whether they were expecting any trouble. Phil was apprehended by the doorman and refused entry, until he pointed us out as his "Derby mates" and then in we went.


In the end there was a decent crowd of us in there – four from Sheffield, one from Germany via Oxford, one from Staines, two from London and one from Corby – and we enjoyed the beer and Blackburn v Arsenal through until about half two with no problems. Extra mark for the pub selling match programmes as well, which was a nice touch and something QPR should look into. Quote of the pre-match, which shall remain unattributed for fear of causing embarrassment – “Are you from west side Staines or east side?” “Hmmmm, I suppose it depends which way you hold the map up.”


After, or in the case of Tracey and me during, the match we all went back to the Waterfall for what was supposed to be a couple of drinks before we all boarded the train around 6pm. Of course after the late show at Pride Park, which seven of the nine stayed to see, nobody was very much in the mood for going home so we all piled into a very swanky Indian restaurant round the corner for a curry. Sheffield Steve, who had offered to pay, was, I think, aiming for a cheaper Indian a little further up the road but the food was right up there with some of the best curries I’ve had so it was worth a bit extra. It was Steve, honest. It was a real shame when a big dose of the hiccups/far too much beer, forced me to return quite a bit of it onto the tracks at Kettering station later that evening.

Scores >>> Pub 8/10 >>> Atmosphere 7/10 >>> Food 9/10 >>> Cost 7/10

Final score - 95/130


Photo: Action Images

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ASHRAM added 20:36 - Sep 6
A very entertaining article. I agree with most things you say although our ground? "As far as the ground goes, it’s all a bit same old same old. It’s a new ground with no soul.....yadayadayada. I've never really understood what that means. Our ground is one of the best in the country. It's consistently voted that. Perfect view from every seat, proper amenities on every concourse. 90 plus percent full every game. So if having a ground with soul means small cramped seating with obstructed views in the middle of the worst housing in West London where you can't get decent food or drink within a 2 mile radius. Then I'm all for soulless grounds. It's the 21st century and I'm pretty sure that when you get back to the Prem' especially now you have Hulse your uber rich owners will be building you a new ground in Slough, so look out!

French_Hoops added 23:24 - Sep 6
Ashram, fair points taken but we won't have to build a new ground in Slough or wherever else: we'll just move to Wembley! lol

ASHRAM added 00:28 - Sep 7
Now that will be the day!

18StoneOfHoop added 06:02 - Sep 7
Which fair points where,Frenchy?You can't get decent food or drink within a 2-mile radius of LR? Well if your blind or recently had a lobotomy and manage to walk past the 15+pubs and 60+restaurants in the vicinity,I suppose that's true.

You asked for a discussion and you'll get one.As a generously built 40-something geezer known to wear the odd QPR away replica shirt,I find your narrow-minded,prejudiced,not to say fatist,remarks bang out of order, you skinny Northern scrote. ;)

benbu added 09:41 - Sep 7
I agree with Ashram with his comments on pride park. Derby is one of the best grounds in the country and always a great away day. The Frankie and Bennys is always a winner! Its not a souless ground, the fans turn up in great numbers and is always a great atmosphere inside pride park. I dont agree with Ashram regarding loftus road! Around QPR you have plenty of bars, cafe's pie n mash shop etc etc... westfield shopping centre, 10 mins from the city. An away fan coming to QPR would be spoilt for choice. The houses around the ground are also ok (excluding white city estate) and prob worth a fortune.

forget fat 40 y/o men in kits - what i think is worse is those who turn up in Binatone purple and white hoops where the blue has faded, or a 1992 brooks, or classic fm shirt. what are these people on! Clive - you should wear your colours with pride and f@ck what people think.

SheffieldSteve added 12:21 - Sep 7
I thought I should get in a quick comment before any of my mates see this, but it wasn't me 'Sheffield Steve', but can only presume it was 'Big Steve' (or there's an awful lot of QPR supporting Steves living in Sheffield). After the match I was in the Brunswick having a few pints of their very lovely, brewed on the premises, Triple Hop Beer (and good value too, I sound like an advert).
A good pub in Leicester, on way to ground near the hospital is the Swan and Rushes, good beer and food there too. I've never had trouble drinking before and after, and wearing a QPR shirt (I wont go into the argument about people over 40 wearing shirts, because I rarely do these days, certainly not to away games).

French_Hoops added 18:32 - Sep 7
18Stone, I was just conceding that Ashram was right about Pride Park but defo not about LR. It was obvious that his remarks about it, came from someone who hasn't take much time to wander around.
Anyway, here is an idea about a little poll: which ground is the best and which is the worse (in the Championship)?
For me, up there are Leicester, Reading, Cardiff & Coventry (however the last one is never ever full). At the bottom, I'd put Nottingham, Bristol & Burnley.

Northernr added 18:55 - Sep 7
haha, I go out for the day and find reaction to an awayday article, who would have though it. The points in turn.

- soulless ground. Of course it is. In 50 years time it will have it's own history but not at the moment. You sit somewhere like Hillsborough, Anfield, Blundell Park, Selhurst Park, Fratton park etc and you can feel the history around the place. You sit in Pride Park, the Rocoh Arena, The Walkers Stadium and you feel like this used to be where the council tipped toxic waste. The older grounds have unique atmospheres and yeh they're mostly not fit for purpose and will be replaced in time but soul is not something you can import, or buy, or get from filling the ground and having a nice concourse area. Pride Park is one of the better new grounds, and the statues are excellent, but by and large they're all the same - in the middle of nowhere, with no pubs or eateries, dreadful parking which is a sin when you're building a new ground from scratch, clogged up roads afterwards and four stands that are all roughly the same level and the same colour. Like I say, Pride Park is one of the better ones, but it's still excatly the same as middlesbrough and almost the same as leciester, coventry, Southampton and so on. The atmosphere in these places is all the same - although again Derby fans are better than most for singing and filling the place. Now most sensible people aren't bothered about stuff like this. They want to watch the match in comfort and have a good view of the game and for that these new stadiums are great. I fcking hate them, always have, and I dread the day QPR get one.
- Unless you've arrived at Loftus Road previously by parachuting out of a helicopter into the centre circle I'm not sure how you can say we're short of pubs and eateries. One thing we are not short of in the Bush is a wide variety of drinks and food.

- Frankie and Bennies? No wonder you like Pride Park. If I wanted overly salty sht delivered several weeks previously in a carboard box from a distribution centre in Wolverhampton and then microwaved at my convenience then I could easily do that for myself at home without paying £12 per dish plus tip. If Frankie and Bennies is your ideal pre-match haunt then these new grounds are absolutely ideal.
- wearing colours. I couldn't give a toss about what people think, I don't wear them because I want to arrive in a place on a Saturday lunchtime and have my pick of the pubs, cafes and restaurants. In Plymouth the other year my brother and me got off the train in plain clothes, we walked past the police in the booking hall, we walked down to the barbican and we had a brilliant meal in a superb pub on the sea front. Everybody who came in colours was rounded up in the booking hall and then frogmarched to that vile little shthole next to the station where they were crammed in drinking carling out of plastic glasses. At 2pm they were frogmarched in single file up to the ground in the freezing cold and forced to go into the stand 45 minutes before kick off. We all had a fantastic time in derby on Saturday, in a pub that we wouldn't have got into in colours. So it's not about what other people think, it's about avoiding the ridiculous culture in this country that says "football fan = criminal".

- best ground in the championship for me by some distance is bramall lane. fully enclosed historic ground, atmospheric even when empty, walking distance from city centre pubs and restaurants. The worst is coventry. The worst example of a new ground - looks sht, never even half full, awful atmosphere, nowhere near any kind of pubs or eateries, nowhere near the town centre, and crippling the club financially.


AshteadR added 18:23 - Sep 10
Unfortunately, the fat Derby supporter also left before the end....

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