Monday, August 1, 2011

Above Ipswich Town were only two clubs. Liverpool finished 2nd, hardly a surprise – if anything, they were steady maintaining place among the best. However, Derby County finished as champions. The Rams were not overwhelming – they did not have the best attack (Burnley scored more goals); they did not have the best defense (five teams allowed less goals than the champions); they were not the team with most wins and they were not the team with least losses. If anything, Derby County were steady and, point by point, ended first, only 2 points ahead of Liverpool and Ipswich Town. True to their nickname, the Rams stubbornly fought their way to a second title without greatness.
Top, left to right: D. Anderson – assistant manager, K. Hector, J. McGovern, J. O’Hare, R. Webstar, C. Boulton, G. Mosley, P. Daniel, S. Powell, C. Todd, J. Gordon – trainer.
Bottom: A. Hinton, J. Bourne, D. Nish, A. Gemill, D. Mackay – manager, R. McFarland, R. Davies, B. Rioch, R. Thomas, H. Newton.
At the top, left: Francis Lee.
Well, hoe this squad differ from the champions of 1972? Not at all… it was the same, Brian Clough’s creation, except Clough was no longer around, but in 2nd Division with Nottingham Forest. Mackay exploited Clough built – a sturdy squad of reliable and spirited players. Mostly second stringers, though… Francis Lee, McFarland, and Todd were big stars. David Nish, a new addition, too. The rest depended largely on work ethic – surely Rioch and Gemill were regulars in the national team of Scotland, but hardly superstars. And in any case it was not a team to be called ‘great’: Lee was getting old and no longer called in the English national team. Nish, Todd, and McFarland, good as they were, never really established themselves in the national team – perhaps unjustly, but still not seen as truly great players. Derby County was never seen as a ‘dynastic’ team – it was experienced, stubborn, steady, but hardly great. Except for Brian Clough… it was his selection and, interestingly enough, it was to remain his: the trainer Gordon already moved to Nottingham and was to be followed by some players as well. By the end of the 1970s O’Hare, Gemill, and McGovern won the European Champions Cup with Clough and Nottingham Forest. Without Cloughie, his strange creation did not last long… and the great days of Derby County practically ended in 1975. Given the squad, the Rams achieved more than expected – their only titles ever! Hats off! Personally, I still have a soft spot for them.