Derby County Ladies Football Club

Main Stand Banter Blog

Main Stand Banter Blog - By Nigel Wright

Two new features being introduced at Derby County Ladies FC come in the form of  our ‘Banter Blogs” as we look to give you an insight into supporting the #EweRams and how as a club we are progressing.

Our first “New” Blog will be from a fans perspective as Nigel Wright will be tackling everything about Derby County Ladies on a regular basis, giving his thoughts on where the club has come from, its current guise and where we want to be.

To some of you, Nigel is known as the Club Announcer, and at every home match you will no doubt here him perform chants on the terrace for the Derby County Players.

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Wow, what a season that has just gone by. To finish 5th in the League after the dreadful set of injuries that we had, is an outstanding achievement and it’s been a historic season in more than one way.

It’s not often that you get to play at three home grounds in a season, but because our Mickleover Sports Ground has been unavailable at times, we’ve had to go on the move and it means the three we’ve played at, have some special memories for me and hopefully other Ewe Rams fans and players.

We played Newcastle United at the Racecourse’s Steve Bloomer pitch, which was special as it was the first to be played there by a Derby County first team since the men left for the Baseball Ground in 1895 having played there since they were formed in 1884. The move was due to the Racecourse committee putting restrictions on the football club.

This got me thinking of the grounds that both the men and ladies have shared. I remember being in the seated Pop. Side watching the reserves win an East Midlands Division 2 Cup. As they played in the main structure albeit not allowed to be promoted I’m having that as they were against other clubs’ first teams. A few reserve sides being allowed to top up the numbers before reserve leagues came into being.

Of course there’s the famous Crewe away game at Pride Park Stadium at the end of the annual play on the pitch for all our teams. How it came about is due to our ingenious founder. In discussing when to play the game with her Crewe counterpart, and with dates being scarce it was dropped into the conversation. Five minutes later, the Midlands Championship decider was at Pride Park.

Two games have nearly given me nervous breakdowns. When Leanne Beet (Captain Beety) took her penalty I was on my knees, jumping up like a Jack in the box when it hit the net and while she ran the length back to goalkeeper Bart (Jenny Simpson now assistant manager).

The ground sharing doesn’t stop there. While Radio Derby’s Craig Ramage was learning his trade playing for the youth team at the Ramarena, the ladies began their 1st FA Cup venture there. (I have been told that when it was owned by the RAF my parents had their wedding party there in 1965). The FA Cup also saw us play at current training ground Moor Farm where the men’s academy now play and have also had reserve games.

The Ladies have also played Newcastle United in the League there. Not in the best of conditions but Jeffo scored a blinder from distance, although I only saw it hit the net as I tried keeping my back to the torrential rain.

The FA Cup, Derby and Newcastle also came together at St George’s Park in a 2-0 win with Sarah Morgan making a fantastic penalty save on pitch 5. This has also played host to the men’s under 23’s.

A highlight of my season was the win over Stoke City. Having got over the lack of sleep from my journey to watch the men in Brighton I could be forgiven for being miserable at half time, but I didn’t feel out of it. Crucially we got a quick foothold back in the game early doors and at the end I was wondering if I’d nodded off at half time and dreamt the second half.

The only historical Stoke games are the League Cup extra time victory at the start of the season and a questionable goal a few years ago. It was in the middle of a relegation battle and some coaches from Forest who were hoping we’d lose to give them a chance of survival. 2-0up at half time in a great ding dong battle. A second half shot from Stoke appeared to cross in front of the post and hit the other post coming out and being cleared. The Forest coaches were cheering and the assistant was flagging a goal. A discussion and Stoke were back in it. Derby finished above Forest who survived when the North Champions were promoted meaning one and not two clubs went down.

Another of last season’s performances stoked some memories of games gone by too, and that was the 5-0 thrashing of Fylde. Great counter attacking and clinical finishing. Great defending and fantastic goalkeeping an all round team display. The own goal at the end reminded me of a last game of the season v Hereford Pegasus. Hereford were already down from the Midland Combination and came with nine players. They made it tricky but we wore them down. 8-0 in the lead we were awarded a penalty. Jeffo steps up and hits the ball. I jumped but my cheer was cut short as the ball squirmed under the keeper, but stopped in front of the line. The keeper then turned round and knocked the ball over for the ninth and final goal.