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A potted history of Derby County Football Club before and after Brian Clough betvirus
A potted history of Derby County Football Club before and after Brian Clough

‘They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I wasn’t involved in that particular project’

When Brian Cough arrived, with his assistant Peter Taylor, at the Baseball Ground to manage Derby County football club in 1967 he’d already made his mark elsewhere.

Having started playing as an amateur with Middlesbrough in 1951, earning a professional contract the year after largely as a result of the influence of Taylor who was a goalkeeper at the club, Clough went on to score almost a goal a game there, four times scoring more than 40 goals a season with Middlesbrough.

However after a transfer to Sunderland on Boxing Day 1962 Clough collided with the Bury goalkeeper and the resulting injury brought his playing career to an end. He began as a manager in the fourth division with Hartlepools (not a spelling error they did not change their name to Hartlepool until a few years after this). The same year that Clough took over at Derby Hartlepools won the Fourth Division as it was then.

Derby County Football Club had never really been one to amass trophies before Clough arrived despite being one of the twelve clubs that actually formed the Football League in 1888. It was actually an offshoot founded by William Morley, of the already established Derbyshire County Club.

However they do earn their stripes as a model of consistency, playing only four seasons outside of the top two leagues in England in the 130 years since the Football League’s formation and being only one of 10 clubs to have completed every season of the Football League. However trophy cabinet was a bit bare pre Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.

On one of the four seasons that they had dropped to the old third division they bounced back by winning the division, in 1956-7. They had won the second division twice but not since 1915. They had actually the audacity to be second twice in the first division, but again not since the 1935-6 season. And their one trophy of any real significance had been earned in 1946, winning the FA Cup. Consistency stretched to their stadium – the Baseball Ground (yes as obvious as it sounds it was so called because it had previously been home to a baseball team) first hosted a Derby County game in 1895 and remained their home ground for 102 years before moving to a new purpose built stadium slightly outside of town Pride Park. By the time they had moved into the Baseball round they had taken over another club, Derby Midland, leaving as the only Professional football team in the county.

betvirusDuring seven seasons Clough and Taylor brought two titles to Derby, the second division in 1968-9, the first division (now the Premiership) in 1971-2 and a European Cup journey that took them to the semi final against Juventus in 1972-3. They also laid the foundation for future success, with Derby going on to win the First Division again in 1974-5 and the Charity Shield at Wembley at the start of the 1975-6 season both won with Dave Mackay as manager, who had been one of Clough and Taylor’s first signings as a player when they arrived at the club.

Mercurial management techniques and you don’t need me to outline these as there are many, many examples available in other online articles were not the only part of Clough’s armoury when it came to getting results. When he arrived at Derby a complete clear out took place, eleven of the first team squad were sacked (squads were much smaller then, only four first team players survived this purge), both scouting staff were similarly soon looking for alternative employment. Not content with culling the playing side of the business the grounds man also got the shove and the reputed sacking of two tea ladies who were caught laughing after the team had been beaten on that particular says it all about his ‘we’re all in it together’ mentality. There’s still a nine foot bronze statue of Clough and Taylor outside of Pride Park today.

Fast forward to today and there’s signs of another revival taking place at Pride Park. Saturday brought their fourth successive victory in the second division, solidifying their position at in the playoff spots which could take them back to the Premiership. They lost in the play off final when managed by ex England football manager Steve McClaren (aka ‘the wally with the brolly’) in 2013-4 when last in the playoffs. Other recent influence on the club include Paul Clement, ex manager and recently also sacked by Premiership club Swansea, Clough’s own son Nigel who managed the club for two years and Nigel Pearson who managed Leicester the season before Claudio Ranieri performed minor miracles to guide Leicester to the Premiership.

Francis Lee who was a highly influential figure on the board of Manchester City as the club re-established themselves at the Premiership top table, Peter Shilton ex-England goalkeeper and Paul McGrath Republic of Ireland stalwart centre half have also been prominent as ex players. Current manager Gary Rowett is also a past player with the club and also of local rival Leicester. He was surprisingly sacked by Birmingham, his last club, when they were 7th in the Championship (the Second Division as was) in December 2016. He was appointed manager with Derby in March this year. Derby currently sit third in the Championship and face a trip to Hull on Boxing Day, 19th in the table, smarting from a recent 1-0 loss to Leeds and with only one win in their last five games. Despite his rocky relationship with the Directors at Derby County Football Club which was in fairness was a feature of his management throughout his career (‘Football hooligans? Well, there are 92 club chairmen for a start’) Brian Clough would be cheering them on if still with us.


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