One of the oldest clubs Boro’ will probably come up against, the recent years haven’t been so kind to the guys at Derby County. After fighting hard during the 2010s to regain their lost Premier League status, the Rams started to flounder on and off the pitch. They just about clung onto their Championship status on the last day of the 2020-1 season. One year on, however, and they were relegated to the third tier for the first time since 1986 in summer 2022. Having to take a 12-point hit didn’t help their cause. And yet them the rules for going into administration.
Going into the 2022-3 League One season, things didn’t look as if they were getting better any time soon. To their credit, however, Derby did push hard for the playoffs. It just didn’t work out for them and the Rams were condemned to another season in the third tier. And that meant they’d be there waiting for Boro’ when we rose up from League One; a historic first competitive encounter with the Rams guaranteed to take place during the 2023-4 campaign.
In 1884, a football team emerged from Derbyshire County Cricket Club; a way of spending their winter hours doing something when not doing the cricket doolally. Just four years later and the fledgling Derby County would become one of the founding fathers of the Football League. In the decades that’d follow up until the present day (as we say this), they’d spend every single season competing in the competition. And this makes them only one of 10 who can say that. Not even Notts County have that honour. It’s even more impressive when you consider they’ve spent only FOUR years in that time outside the top two tiers. Well, until 2022…
Anyway, your whistlestop tour awaits…
The Rams had some near misses when it came to success in their early days; coming second in Division One in 1896 and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals on nearly 10 occasions between then and 1910. Some of those runs took them to the final. But no glory was had. Relegation to Division Two in 1907 was, inadvertently, the catalyst for their first big silverware – the Division Two title in 1912. It wouldn’t be until 1946 when the next major honour came along; the club winning the first postwar FA Cup in 1946.
It was obviously the leadership of Brian Clough that’d lift them to new heights in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Sure enough, they were kings of English Football in 1972 and 1975 – with a European Cup semi-final appearance in 1973 to boot. But it went downhill at the back end of that decade. They were relegated in 1980, and then again in 1984, to be in the unusual position of being in Division Three. Of course, they’d roar back. But they couldn’t quite get themselves back into the top flight. Not even an Anglo-Italian Cup runners-up medal in 1992 could make up for that.
The Premier League eventually did beckon in 1996 under the leadership of Jim Smith. And they had a good few years in the top flight; arguably twice cocking up a chance to get into Europe in both the 1997-8 and 1998-9 seasons. That was the high point. The lows were soon to follow. As we entered a new millennium, their fortunes tailed off – and they were relegated in 2002. A solitary reappearance in the top flight in 2007-8 ended awfully as they recorded the worst-ever Premier League campaign. Still, we bet they’d bite your hand off to do it again based on recent seasons…
Why do we know the Rams?
To be honest, our first encounter with the Rams didn’t come in competitive football. Such has been their resilience in sticking to the top two tiers of English football, we’ve never crossed paths. The near future may change that, but our pre-season friendly meet-ups is all we had to show coming into the 2022-3 campaign.
How to get to Derby County – Travel Information – Distance: 10 miles
It’s around two hours to drive to Pride Park, which isn’t exactly a kick in the nether regions – as long as the traffic is playing ball. To get there, you first need to get across to the M1 by whichever route you prefer. From there, it’s north until you come to Junction 25; taking the A52 westbound towards Derby.
After 5.5 miles or so, you’ll come to a dedicated junction for Pride Park. Come off the A52 and follow the slip road to the Wyvern Way roundabout. Here, take the third exit onto Derwent Parade; the first exit being Go Outdoors and the second being Wyvern Way. As you cross the River Derwent, you’ll have a Frankie and Benny’s on your left.
At the roundabout here, go straight on alongside the stadium. You’ll shortly come to a second roundabout, which is going to take you around to the left. This is Royal Way, if you should need this detail. And, so says the Rams’ official visitor guide, you’ll then need to turn left again into the Toyota West Car Park.
As well as the Toyota West Car Park at the ground, there may be some car parks nearby that you can use in return for a fee. We’d strongly suggest you be wary of rocking up in one of the many retail and leisure car parks in the area. You don’t want to chance it – only to land yourself a fine.
Services to: NOTTINGHAM (for GRANTHAM), LONDON ST PANCRAS
It’s not a bad walk at all from the station to the stadium. Well, we mean that in the time sense. If you like out-of-town developments, this is also for you. Leave the station using its East entrance and aim for Roundhouse Road. Turn right onto this road and follow it as it bends around to the left. You’ll soon come to a roundabout.
Here, go straight across onto Riverside Road – passing David Lloyd Leisure on your left. It’s then pretty much a case of sticking with this until the stadium comes into view.
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