The Evil Down The Road
On Saturday the Rams entertain our neighbours and local rivals Nottingham Forest at the Ipro Stadium.
With both clubs (at the time of writing) sitting in the top 6 of the Championship with 10 games to play, local rivalry aside, the fixture has not had as much genuine significance for years.
Weirdly, despite league placings, both clubs enter the match in poor shape. Although performances have picked up, the Rams have scored 2 points and no goals from the last 4 games; whilst Forest, off the back of an admittedly horrific injury list, have no wins in 7. Something has to give.
When I first began supporting the Rams in the early eighties, Forest had a great side whilst Derby were a shocking team and a club on the edge of the abyss. Aside from one notable FA cup win, Forest pretty much owned us for the next 10 years. Even when we got good again under Arthur Cox, the majority of games against the Red Dogs ended with a comfortable win for the men from Nottingham.
To compound the frustration, everyone, outside of Derby, looked at the likeable players, the good football and the Clough factor and seemed to treat Forest as their second team. As a kid, I distinctly remember thinking what it would be like if Derby regularly hammered them as they seemed to do to us and also why doesn’t everyone hate this club like I do?
As I got older and went through college and began work (in Notts!), the tide turned a little and I got quite good at articulating how Forest had a poor fair weather support (compared to the Rams bigger and more loyal following), how their stadium was a monument to the eighties (compared to Pride Park) and that Clough actually preferred Derby all along (which is fact). I won plenty of arguments on this basis but on the pitch, despite some decent results in the George Burley era, a City ground tonking was never far away.
Now lets fast forward to the modern period.
Billy Davies is a vile, paranoid, selfish man and his arrival at Forest formed an axis of evil that was almost too much. Like any local rivalry, Derby Forest was always tasty, but Davies added a poison to it that we had not seen before. Thankfully for the majority of the Clough (at Derby) years we won more than we lost, although I am sure it wont be lost on Billy that it was his victory over the Rams this season that caused Nigel to lose his job.
Off the pitch though the clubs couldn’t be further apart in their activities and approach. The Rams are super well organised and well managed by Sam Rush with positive but sensible investment. Derby have thrived forming good relationships with top clubs and using our facilities along with McClaren’s coaching prowess to attract some of the best young players in English Football to our team.
At Forest you have Fawaz at the helm. A very rich and probably genuine guy who clearly knows fuck all about English football. The fact he is difficult to deal with means people don’t deal with him unless he’s paying top dollar. Rest assured he was absolutely taken to the cleaners by Hull over Jack Hobbs and the likes of Mackie, Wilson, Blackstock and Djemba Djemba earn money that the Derby players (aside from maybe Wisdom) can only dream of at this stage of their careers. I don’t know how deep his pockets are, but he may need to make them a bit deeper for next season based on Forest’s recently released books for 2012.
Then we move onto Billy.
What Billy has done really well this season is to turn Forest into the horrible, despicable, evil club I always imagined them to be and regularly described them as to anyone who would listen. At different points he has fallen out with national media, local media, a random cameraman, and the Forest fans. At one point even causing the football league to meet Fawaz to discuss the clubs general conduct. All of that without even mentioning the bizarre role of suspended lawyer Jim Price at Forest and Billy’s odd twitter statements via Jim’s account.
Although he will always describe the Rams game as “another 3 points to play for”, the way he has played his current touch line ban appeal suggests he’s quite keen to be on the bench come Saturday.
There was a great comment in the Guardian recently that said something on the lines of “Brian Clough used to say he could walk on the river Trent, Billy Davies seems hellbent on polluting it.” A good point brilliantly made.
Many Forest fans I know have been happy to put up with Billy’s antics when the Reds were winning for fun. Now they are not, he is becoming an embarrassment and his endless rhetoric is wearing thin.
On paper it looks a good time to play Forest; but in these games experience dictates anything can happen. Ask Frank Fielding.
For the most part it has been a great season for Derby but, regardless of how it ends, a thumping win on Saturday would almost certainly guarantee us a play off spot, knock Forest out of the top 6 and heap unbelievable pressure on Billy to the point he might just explode.
The good will out. Come on You Rams!