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02/03: Preview: Derby County
Opposition opinion
by Chris Smith of The Baseball Bat Fanzine

What happened last season?
Our relegation had been on the cards for three years. Whilst a great manager and a great bloke, The Bald Eagle had well outstayed his time based on purely sentimental reasons. His transfer market activity, which for three years had been superb, went massively off the rails and we were left with a squad of overpaid (mostly foreign) players who did (and still do!) not give a fuck about the club. Colin Todd's 3-month spell was disastrous. We lost what little fight there was in the team as he fell out with most of our key players and saddled us with yet more average foreigners. Gregory instigated a brief revival but just when it looked like we could do the impossible, we lost 7 on the bounce, which was one short of a premier league record.

What's going to happen next season?
Hard to say. In our end of season special I predicted our team would be unrecognisable by August 10th. As it is, we've sold no one and subsequently the bank won't let us sign anyone. To my mind it could go one of two ways - a) We spend the season concentrating on balancing the books and cutting down the squad and end up in the play offs at best b) We get off to a flier and the board decide to hang in there, thus retaining our best players. Don't forget we still have Ravanelli, Strupar and Christie who are all well capable of 25 goals in division 1. I think the first 12-15 games will be crucial to the Rams.

Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
What's the nearest railway station?
Where is the best place to park?
As Pride Park is effectively on an Industrial estate, Pubs in the immediate proximity of the ground are few and far between. However there's still plenty of scope for pre match Beer action. If coming by Rail, you're laughing as Derby Station is only around a mile from Pride Park and there are 4 or 5 boozers across the road. If you like your Real Ale or European Beers, don't miss the Brunswick, which has its own brewery downstairs and has Budvar on tap! If coming by Car you could do worse than simply hit the city centre and work from there. Having said that if you head down the old Nottingham road into Chaddesden, The Park pub (its massive you won't miss it) is always packed on match days, has loads of parking and always a good splattering of away fans. It's probably around 20-25 minutes walk to the ground but well worth it.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"We've never had that many bad defenders"

"We've had some really sh*t goalies: John (Budgie) Burridge, Graham Mosely"

"I detest my club and wake up everyday questioning why I still support them, but support them I do, and will always -b*stards!"

"Have you forgiven us for sending you Craig Ramage?"

"Do you still have to walk around those allotments to get to the away end?"

"We sacked the best Manager since the war in Brian Clough and then sacked Dave Mackay. Their crime - they managed the only two championships Derby ever won"