I have been a Rams fan for let's see, 62 years now. I don't attend anymore because football is a young man's game and I have lost touch with Derby since my mother came to live with us. Already I hear all those who spend their hard gained earnings sniff with contempt for my views but then they have their youth and their financial clout but I have my experience.
In 1968 around about the time that I met my wife a young man arrived at Derby at a time when we Rams fans had endured something like 15 years of nonentity. He arrived at a time when we were perenially in the bottom half of the Division Two of the Football League and he transformed the club. Before he was finished Brian Clough led Derby to win the Division One title and gave me the privilege of seeing them play Juventus in the semi-final of the European Cup.
Brian Clough is hailed as a genius but his 'secret' was that he was a great man manager. He was the epitome of 'The Boss' and his secret was that he treated people honestly. He had no favourites, he called a spade a shovel and he was scared of nobody. The players all knew that he managed honestly and they respected that. It is a lesson for our industry today but I will blog that at another time.
Fast forward to three weeks ago when his son Nigel stepped forward to manage Derby County. This was a club which had been relegated from the Premiership with a record points deficit. When he arrived they were facing the prospect of relegation from the Championship. The fans were punch drunk from defeat after defeat.
Nigel had little experience of managing at that level. He had taken Burton Albion to an almost certain promotion fron the Conference to the Football League but apart from his player experience he had nothing to recommend him.
On the night that he arrived the players, freed from the threat of Paul Jewell (the former manager) actually beat Manchester United in the Carling Cup. It was a great display even though we lost the second leg in Manchester. Since then there has been a remarkable transformation on the field. At long last we are the dominant team and players like Teale, Commons and Hulse are on fire.
Gary Teale under Paul Jewell was frankly embarassing and yet in three weeks his play has been transformed to such an extent that the fans are calling him Tealinho! He has also rehabilitated players like Savage, Bywater and McEveley and the team now looks like the real deal.
I wonder, will history repeat itself, is Nigel really a chip of the old block? I tell you what I think even Manchester United might wonder about a visit to Pride Park in the fifth round of the FA Cup. I realise that they have much bigger fish to fry but we were the last club to beat them and Nigel is now in charge fulltime. I have that feeling that history is about to repeat itself and I bloody hope so!