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27 Nov 2014 10:26am, by Shields53

Whilst we may be despised by clubs up and down the country because of our loyal support, our position within a big city and our history of success, there are few sides that reserve more ire for us than Derby County.

Chelsea and Manchester United may be our bigger, more glamorous and better known rivals, and we may take more pleasure in beating them (if we ever got the chance to play them), but the heady days of the seventies when we battled it out with Clough’s County for the First Division title live long in the memory for many, only rekindled in recent years by The Damned United. This Saturday will see hostilities resumed but there are more than bragging rights up for grabs this time.

Sitting Pretty
As we go into the game Derby are three points clear of Bournemouth at the top of the table, sitting pretty and smiling smugly down on those beneath them. Having lost just three times this season Steve McClaren’s side have enjoyed an outstanding campaign so far and look certain to secure automatic promotion unless teams like us, who have so far failed to deliver on their potential, stand up to them and make their lives difficult. The Rams are currently big favourites to turn us over on Saturday; get football news and tips at bluesq.com.

Unbeaten Run
Ahead of Saturday’s game Derby remain unbeaten in 12 against Leeds - the last time the Whites defeated County was back on 28th September 2005 when Rob Hulse scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win. Against any team a run of 12 games without a win would be hard to take but against one of our oldest rivals it is unacceptable and must come to an end on Saturday.

Back on Track
Of course Saturday is not just about ruining Derby’s party, it is also about putting our own season back on track. With just one win in the last ten (against dismal Blackpool), we are running out of chances to avoid getting sucked into the battle at the bottom of the table. A win on Saturday would restore our confidence and would see us beginning to look up the table rather than over our shoulders. There is plenty of time left to turn our season round; a win over Derby would be the ideal place to start.

27 Nov 2014 09:08am, by Shields53

This morning was a day that started with tragedy and sadness. My alarm clock clicked on to 5 Live news and I heard the news that yesterday I had spent all day hoping would not come. Australian cricketer Phil Hughes had lost his fight for life after a freak accident two days ago when he was struck on the top of the neck by a short pitched delivery in a Sheffield Shield match.

Sport is such an amazing thing, there are such rivalries and hostility but in moments of tragedy people come together and support each other in their time of grief. The tributes for Phil Hughes this morning have been universally warm and heartfelt from both team mates and opponents right across the globe. A good bloke and top sportsman taken from us too soon. It’s an all too sad echo of the news three years ago on Sunday 27th November 2011 of the tragic death of Gary Speed. The circumstances of course are very different but the reaction in many ways is the same.

Football is a very partisan sport, people like to divide themselves into their factions but the outpouring of feeling towards Gary Speed transcended that. He was extremely popular within the game, loved by players, journalists and fans alike. Stadiums across the country, Elland Road, St James Park, Goodison Park, Reebok Stadium became focal points for peoples tributes. The sight of Leeds United, Manchester United, Newcastle & Everton shirts lying next to each other on the steps of Billy Bremners statue was particularly poignant.

Hearing the emotional outpourings of John Hartson and Bryn Law on the radio and television, seeing the tributes around grounds across the country show how popular, respected and loved Gary was. It’s unusual in the modern era for players to be universally popular but Speedo will always be remembered with great affection by supporters of all of his former clubs.

For me Speedo was a player I grew up with, he was starting out his playing career at Leeds when I was attending my first games at the age of six. He was practically ever present in the great Championship winning midfield with Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty. Like many fans of my generation he was my favourite player. He was quick, hard working and scored some great goals.

Gary Speed will never be forgotten and always remembered with a great deal of fondness and affection by a great number of people. Thanks for the memories Gary.

Gary Speed
8th September 1969 – 27th November 2011

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