Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday January 13 2007
What a difference a year makes, this time a year ago the Rams were rock bottom. They were struggling in the Championship and a bitter confrontation between the supporters and the board was on the front and the back pages of the newspapers. One thing that hasn`t changed is the support for the club, they kept the faith with the team and their number one agenda was a change of board. That wish came to fruition, ironically before Derby met today`s opponents Sheffield Wednesday, in the last home game of the 2005-06 season.
How things have changed, we now have a talented manager, who is taking the club in the right direction, and a board, made up of Derby people, who has supported the coach in his transfer targets. In fact a Staggering £20m has been invested in Derby County's squad since the board took control eight months ago. This includes spending on transfer fees with potential add-ons is just over £5m, and add to that another £15m committed on the players' contracts over the length of time they have signed and the board's backing makes impressive reading.
Splashing out transfer fees on players, never mind £1m signings like Howard and Jones, was something the fans could only dream about 12 months ago.
But then a consortium of successful local business people headed by Chairman Peter Gadsby bought the club at the end of April.
This week's activity in the transfer window has seen Craig Fagan, Gary Teale and Stephen Pearson arrive at Pride Park. These are exciting times for the club and the supporters who have had to suffer seasons of struggle and disappointment in six of the last seven seasons.
Billy Davies has guided Derby to second in the Championship and the fourth round of the FA Cup. Today, they face Sheffield Wednesday in front of another bumper crowd at Pride Park.
Things are taking shape on and off the field and Rams vice-chairman Mike Horton is delighted with the way things are going. He said: "Hopefully, we have demonstrated what we said when we first took over, that we are fully committed to the club.
'We drastically improved the finances of the club and now own the stadium.
'The success of the team under Billy Davies over the last few months has given us encouragement and we felt now was the time to push on a bit more.'
Asked if this sent out a message to their Championship rivals, Horton replied: 'I think so.
'This club has been in a relegation fight for six of the last seven years. The crowd has been used to poor seasons.
'Billy said right at the beginning 'let's change the squad, let's freshen it up'.
'We did that, it worked, and plan B in this window was to bring in fewer players but of a higher quality.
'We all know where we want to be, just like 12 or 13 other clubs in this division.
'What we have hopefully demonstrated is the type of player we are bringing in now is a quality player who has had experience at a higher level who will stand us in good stead if we get to the 'Promised Land'.
'It is exciting times and the crowds are coming back. They have seen that we are serious. We are local people at the end of the day and we try hard to support the manager, and we will continue to do so.'
Davies says the board's backing is 'very pleasing'.
He added: 'When I came here, I had many good options myself and it was only the backing and intention and ambition of the board that brought me here.
'We all knew it would be a long-term plan and a difficult job. We are very much ahead of schedule, we all know that, and we are all delighted to be where we are.
'We also recognise an opportunity when it comes along and that is reflected in the commitment of the board, which is very pleasing.'
From all Rams fans around the world - long may it continue!!!
Date:Saturday January 13 2007
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