Spread the love



The glory days of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor seem a long long time ago as Derby find themselves firmly established as a mid-table Championship side over the past few years. BillytheBee catches up with music PR guru Derby fan James ‘the Windle’ Windle talking clipped ear-holes, The Damned United and that rivalry with Nottingham Forest.

What was your first game?

It was a 1-1 draw with QPR at the Baseball Ground in 1990. I think Saunders scored for us. Dire game. Favourite player of all time is probably Igor Stimac. A brilliant defender, a gentlemen and oozed class.

You’ve had a so-so start to the season with a trouncing of Yeovil who beat us at Wembley, a win away to playoff hopefuls Brighton, a draw at home to last season’s relegation fodder Blackburn and a loss to big-spending promotion-chasing Leicester. You also knocked Oldham out the Capital One cup to earn the right to play the mighty Bees. Fair results?

First game against Blackburn was a fair result, but frustrating as they equalized very late in the game. We were doing OK but, as often do under Clough, handed them the initiative and dropped deeper and deeper trying to defend a 1-0 lead by putting 10 men behind the ball and grinding it out rather than trying to seal it by getting another goal. It’s been something of a feature of Clough’s time here. Blackburn will have an OK season, they’re nothing special but organised big and athletic, which was enough for Cardiff and Hull last season.

The following away victories over Brighton and Oldham were very pleasing. Our away form last season was atrocious (third worst in the division, compared to the third best home form in the division) so it was good to get on a run early doors. Playing a tighter narrower formation away allows us to fit three of our better players (Bryson, Hendrick and future England star Will Hughes) into the team without it being lopsided like it was at home against Blackburn and Leicester.

The home defeat against Leicester was very tight, a freak own goal winning it for the Foxes.

Do you think that Brentford are going to be a harder proposition than Yeovil were this weekend ?? ( from @Stewie_Tweets_)

I thought Yeovil were going to be a tough proposition. They’re the type of team we’ve struggled against in the past. You lot should be bang up for it. There will be a small crowd on Tuesday and I think Clough will play some fringe players like Michael Jacobs, the winger we bought from Northampton last summer, and John Eustace, the experienced battler from Watford. We got him on a free in the summer and adds experience to a pretty young squad. Not a particularly talented player, but a leader and was Watford’s club captain.

I’m sure Donaldson will give our defenders a tough time. An upset could be on the cards.

So what’s Derby’s footballing style?

We try to play on the deck – the 24 pass second goal against Yeovil (check the video) shows we’re capable of slick one-touch football. At home we’ve been playing very narrow and most would like to see Michael Jacobs play to give us a bit more natural width at home.

Key players – Will Hughes (I’ll talk more about him later). Lee Grant is a solid keeper and won’t make many mistakes. Richard Keogh at the back was our Player of the Season last year. When Jamie Ward is on song, he’s a real handful, but can go missing in games.

Midfield has talent but we haven’t found a natural balance yet and way of accommodating our best players in it. Connor Sammon might be given a run out up front, and will hopefully get to see 16 year old striker Mason Bennett, who is tipped as a future star and scored in the FA cup last year when we trounced Tranmere 5-0.

Have you picked up any decent players in the close season?

Chris Martin (Norwich, free) and Johnny Russell (Dundee, £700k) look like they’ve given us some quality up front, scoring 5 goals in 4 games between them so far. A few games last season we controlled midfield but didn’t have the quality up front to put teams away. Hopefully, this has now changed.

Did you lose anyone?

John Brayford, a £400k signing from Crewe Alex in 2010, was sold to Cardiff for £2 mill. He was entering the last year of his contract and wanted a pop at the Premier League, so fair enough. He’s not even made the bench for them yet. Good player, fantastic going forward, but his replacement Kieron Freeman is stepping up OK so far.

Nigel Clough is following in his father Brian’s footsteps. Big shoes to fill. How is he doing?

He’s every bit as stubborn as his father. Quite a prickly character. He doesn’t have the charisma and tactical genius though. He’s doing well IMO and has had to constantly offload the big earners (Hulse, Commons, Albretchsen, Savage etc) and replace them with cheaper players from the youth team or other teams’ reserves, or league one or two).

This considered, he’s doing a good job and this last 18 months the quality of the football has really improved. We needed stability after the boom and (mostly) bust of Jagger, Davies, Phil Brown … and Clough has provided it. Although he’s a bit too conservative tactically, the academy under his watch has blossomed and provided the likes of Irish international Jeff Hendrick, Ireland U-21 Mark O’Brien and the highly rated Will Hughes who Liverpool have been linked with for £10 million.

Has Nigel clipped any fans’ ears yet for invading the pitch then?

Not yet but he did knee Billy Davies up the @rse in the touchline brawl. Good lad. Players who don’t tow his line are quickly sidelined and shipped out. The players who he trusts and who do the right things, he’s incredibly loyal to.

So was Brian Clough a football genius? (from @frankbaz)

Yes. Before my time, but his record at Derby and with them lot down the road was unbelievable. The Greatest.

The Damned United is a fantastic movie documenting Brian Clough’s time managing Derby during the beginning of the glory days. Any chance of seeing those days return to Pride Park?

No team can win the league anymore without being bankrolled by a billionaire. Maybe Niall Horan from One Direction will buy us?! The gap is huge and getting bigger, but when you see teams like Southampton, Swansea and Stoke making a fist of it, no reason why the Rams can’t reestablish themselves as a mid-table premiership team.

The teams coming down form the premiership have a huge competitive advantage as well, with the ridiculous four year parachute payments allowing them to bankroll huge squads.

So how awful was THAT season in the Premier League? (from @TRMaxtoneSmith)

*shudders* we were the perfect s**t storm – Billy Davies short term, ‘all about Billy Davies’ destructiveness (he threatened to quit straight after the playoff victory against WBA). He spaffed millions on terrible, terrible players like Claude ‘clod’ Davies and Robert Earnshaw (who he didn’t even dare play) and then manufactured his exit. Vile man.

Paul Jagger Jewell’s heart was in the right place, but he was shot as a manager and lumped us with even more s***e like Robbie Savage and wasted god knows how much on toss like Danny Mills and Laurent Robert on loan. Such a complete waste. There was a spell over Christmas when we should have beaten Newcastle away, Liverpool at home and Bolton away and could’ve got some momentum to push on but we narrowly and undeservedly lost or drew and you could see the spirit was shot to pieces.

A low points tally that will never be beaten, although think Palace could give it a good run this season.

It’s 125 years of the football league this year. Derby is one of the 12 original members of the league. @sammy_dow asks if Derby fans continually live in the past?

No more than any other team that’s had a hugely successful period in it’s increasingly distant past. We remain proud of that era when we ruffled the feathers of the European Big Boys and rightly so – make sure you see the fantastic statue of Clough and Taylor outside Pride Park.

Do you prefer playing football at your new ground rather than baseball? (from @JBEE75h)

The Baseball Ground had a much better vibe. Modern stadiums just aren’t as good. The atmosphere rarely gets rocking except against Forest and Leeds, and special evenings like beating Southampton on penalties to get to Wembley or beating Man Utd 1-0 in the Carling Cup. I only caught the back end of the Baseball Ground so personally, my best memories are ironically from Pride Park.

Your rivalry with Nottingham Forest runs deep only to be beaten in intensity by Accrington Stanley v Morecambe. How deep does it run?

It felt like it had lost a bit of it’s intensity in recent years, what with them languishing in League One and generally being a bit of a joke, but with the introduction (and reintroduction) of the Poison Dwarf (Billy Davies), it’s really ramped things up again.

Touchline brawls between the playing staff, 22 man brawls on the field, ex red-dog Kris Commons putting up with vile abuse about his wife’s miscarriage before ramming home a 25 yard thunderblot to seal a 3-2 victory at the Sh@tty Ground have spiced things up and the atmosphere is crackling when we play each other.

Playing 90 minutes with 10 men and coming from a goal down to beat them 2-1 was probably my favourite memory of recent years. I was shaking form the adrenalin as I tried to surpress a huge smile walking back to the car through West Bridgeford.

The history between the two teams with Clough senior, Peter Taylor, and in recent years Young Man, Kris Commons etc makes it a bitter rivalry, and the fact there are ‘border’ towns like Illeston and Long Eaton where the support is half and half between the two teams means many of us are living amongst the enemy.

Do true Derby fans hate Forest so badly they do their utmost to avoid anything to do with the City?

Yes. I had to think long and hard if I could buy a house in Forest Hill, South East London.

Liverpool are supposedly in for 19 yr old Will Hughes. He’s been billed as the new Steven Gerrard. Is he any good?

He’s going to be playing at the top very soon. Oozes class. Always got time on the ball, and makes the game look very simple in the way class players do. His vision and passing ability are already brilliant, and he can dribble as well.

In style he’s similar to Modric or Iniesta (not saying he’s going to reach those heights! haha). Quite slight (although he’s only just turned 19 so should bulk up) but tall enough (6’1″) and uses his body very well. He isn’t afraid of the rough, physical side of the game. Doesn’t score loads yet, but that’ll come. Second youngest ever player to play for the England U21, and fortunately avoided the shambles under Pearce in the summer.

Spurs fans were raving about Tom Carroll as the next big thing, and we had him on loan last season. I can tell you Hughes is twice the player Carroll is. We’re lucky to have him and when he moves on, the money should be able to bank roll a raft of new players.

Doncaster signed Louis Tomlinson from One Direction. Any chance of Nigel Clough signing Niall Horan from One Direction as it seems to be the in thing now for clubs to risk damaging their brands and pissing off fans for any short-term financial game?

I remember Niall from pre fame days. Him and his dad used to come over from Ireland for games and he was a hyper active little tyke, hooligan in the making 🙂 Can’t see Clough signing him. Not his style. But good to have someone in the world’s biggest boy band championing us – he’s a proper mad fan.

Actor Jack O’Connoll (Skins, Eden Lake) is a die hard fan who is often seen at away games. He was ‘seeing’ Tulisa and once even took her to Pride Park. Robert Lindsay the olde Citizen Smith and My Family actor confuses people as he’s not a Fulham or QPR fan but is indeed a Derby fan and sung the song ‘Steve Bloomer’s watching’ that is played at the start of all matches. LA based porn star Kieran Lee is a huge (ahem) fan as well.

Last time we played you was in the FA Cup 3rd round and it was an upset of sorts with Brentford winning 1-0. Head to head Derby are winning – beating the Bees 10 times to Brentford’s 8 and drawing 5 times. Any chance of an upset today?

Absolutely. Until we beat Oldham the other week, we’d not won a League Cup game under Clough. Think we’ll just nick it, but will be tough.

Give us a score prediction/scorers.

2-1. Donaldson for you, Michael Jacobs and Chris Martin for us

OK quick fire answers to see if your avoidance of anything Nottingham gets you enough loyalty points to pick yourself up a pie or two on your next visit to Griffin Park

Robin Hood or William Buxton?

William Buxton

ONE BONUS LOYALTY POINT. Buxton was a highwayman from Derbyshire whereas Robin Hood did his plundering in and around Nottingham

Brian Clough or Peter Taylor?

apart they were brilliant. Together they were unbeatable. So both

Marco Gabbiadini or Leighton James?


Peak Practice or This is England?

This is England. Meadows is a Notts County fan, so that’s OK

ONE NEGATIVE LOYALTY POINT. Peak Practice was filmed in and around Derby. This is England was filmed in and around Notingham

Derby Cathederal or Hooters?

Derby Cathedral.

ONE BONUS LOYALTY POINTS: Derby Cathedral you can oggle at the altar and stauned glass windows. Hooters in Nottingham you can just oggle.

Hot Dogs with mustard or burgers with HP sauce?

Hot Dogs with mustard

ONE BONUS LOYALTY POINT: the hot dog was apparently invented by Harry Stevens from Litchurch, Derbyshire who moved to America. HP sauce was invented by a grocer from Nottingham

Pink Coconut or Rock City?

Coconut. Scene of one of Mark Morrison’s lowest moments.

ONE BONUS LOYALTY POINT: Two legendary night clubs with Derby’s Pink Coconut edging Nottingham’s Rock City as the footballer’s midlands hangout

FINAL SCORE: Four bonus loyalty points and one negative loyalty points.
Overall. THREE bonus loyalty points

Your prize: Either 3 pre-match pies or the equivalent – a ticket for 15 home Brentford matches this season.

Brentford take on Derby County on Tuesday 27th August at Pride Park In the Capital One Cup at 7.45pm. Tickets are on sale on the day price £10 adults and cheaper for kids

Besotted would like to thank James for taking time out to fill us in on all things Derby. You can catch up with him on twitter:@MisterWindle