Derby County Ladies Football Club

Tributes Paid to Former Assistant Manager, Neil Wilson

Derby County Ladies FC have been shocked to learn of the passing of former Assistant Manager, Neil Wilson over the Xmas period.

Wilson worked alongside former Manager, Stuart Wilson at the club between February 2015 and April 2016 and was a popular figure amongst both players and club officials according to club CEO, Duncan Gibb.

“We heard the news on Thursday and to be honest we still haven’t got our heads round it. I can remember sitting down with Stuart at our first meeting to discuss him potentially coming into the club and he made it clear at the outset that if it were to materialise, then Neil was coming in with him, given that they had worked together at every club that Stuart had been at. 

“At the time we were sat in the DCFC press lounge and I can remember pointing across at a picture of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor and saying ‘you mean a bit like those two!’.

Whilst the club parted company with the pair towards the end of the 15/16 season, Gibb has always been quick to point out the amazing job that they did when they first came into the club “Truth be told, I thought there was a good chance that we were going down that season that they came in. So much good stuff was happening off the pitch, but we simply couldn’t buy a win on it.

“Stuart and Neil came in with a dozen games remaining and completely transformed things, winning something like nine games! I can vividly recall a night game during the middle of that run at home to a very physical Stoke City side, where we matched them all the way and came away with another hard earned three points, when two or three months earlier we’d have lost the same game by three or four. Instead of just avoiding relegation, they secured us a top half finish, with Stuart subsequently shortlisted for Premier League ‘Manager Of The Year’ at the FA Awards.”

Despite the sad loss, Gibb looks back with amusement at his first meeting with Neil. “Stuart had spoken to Neil and they had agreed to come on board, so we fixed up a further meeting for me to meet with them as a pair. At the time we were doing a lot of positive things off the pitch to raise the profile of the club and I can remember saying to them, now that we’ve got you on board, I think I better tell you who your first three fixtures are against. Next Wednesday you start with a home friendly against reigning FA Cup holders and 14 times league champions, Arsenal. You’ve then got an away County Cup tie at Mackworth St Francis, before we then entertain reigning league champions, Liverpool on the following Wednesday! The look on their faces was priceless!”

Current Ewe Rams manager, John Bennett was also quick to offer praise, having heard the news. “Both Stuart and Neil were known to me from my previous spell at the club and I can remember thinking what a coup the club had made when the news was announced that they were coming to Derby.

“Neil was renowned for his knowledge and contacts within the women’s game and had an uncanny knack of knowing what was going on at most clubs across the country. A number of the players here now worked under Neil and they speak of a quiet, unassuming man, with a wonderful sense of humour, who was always available to talk and re-assure when it was needed. The women’s game will certainly miss Neil and should be grateful of his input into it.”