Meet The Team - MikeC
Why did you become a Rams fan?
I`m Derby born and bred so it was only natural when I developed an interest in football that I`d end up supporting my local team, mind you my dad was a Millwall fan back in the 'good` old days at The Den so I had a lucky escape there!
What was the first game you attended?
The first game at the Baseball Ground was in December 1987 against Spurs. My dad was a teacher in Derby at the time and got free tickets for this televised game. Standing on the popside on my little crate I saw Arthur Cox`s side lost 2-1 with Derby`s goal coming from John Gregory, I don`t remember much about the game being but I remember the smell of Bovril for some reason and this always brings back memories of the BBG for me.
Who is your favourite all time Ram?
Either Ted McMinn or Igor Stimac, two completely different players but both carried that magic and awe about them only boyhood (and not so boyhood) heroes have. Ted was brought in from Sevilla and was virtually unknown of in England at the time but he came in and added a touch of trickery and unpredictability to the wing in the days when being kicked up in the air by a fullback wasn`t even worthy of a telling off by the referee if you had the audacity to attempt a step over.
As for Stimac he came into a side second from bottom in the old Division One and marched us into the Premiership. Played with the arrogance that comes from having played at the very top level but could boss a game from the back like no-one else I have seen since in a Rams shirt. Pure class, but boy did he know it!
And from the current squad?
Shaun Barker has the commitment and desire that has been missing from Rams` players over the last few years. He doesn`t over complicate things at the back, not to say he can`t pass the ball as well as most, and he goes out to simply stop the other side scoring. His commitment to the cause cannot be questioned and has the type of attitude we need in the squad.
What is your most memorable Rams moment?
The play-off final against West Brom was up there although it is still soured by the abject surrender in the following season. Robin van der Laan`s header against Crystal Palace and promotion under Jim Smith is another great memory as were the two wins at the City Ground in Clough`s first season in charge, especially as I now work at the wrong end of the Brian Clough Way.
From last season it has to be the reaction of the commentator on Radio Five when Robbie Savage was hit in the face by a stray clearance at Villa Park when sharing his punditry 'skills` with the nation, click here to hear it on the BBC website if you haven`t heard it, priceless! Oh, and another win over Forest wasn`t bad either.
Where do you think The Rams will finish next season?
I think we`ll continue to progress, maybe more slowly than many hope, and a comfortable mid-table finish should be a springboard to challenge at the right end the season afterwards. There are many Derby fans who feel that this shows lack of ambition and whilst it can be frustrating to find ourselves as just another Championship side at the moment I firmly believe we are heading in the right direction if we give Clough enough time.
And who do you think will stand out?
The young Polish striker Tomasz Cywka, who we signed on a free from Wigan, could be one of the deals of the summer if he lives up to the glimpses we saw from him at the back end of last season although lets not heap to much pressure on his young shoulders. Apart from him there are the usual suspects providing they stay fit (and stay at the club) with Kris Commons being one of the most exciting talents in the Championship when fit and Rob Hulse always chipping in with his fair share of goals when he receives the service.
If you could add any player to the current squad before the transfer window shuts who would it be?
We definitely need some pace up front and a creative midfielder, James Bailey has looked good in pre-season so far but a proven player in there would be a good addition. Gary Hooper has been linked and wouldn`t be a bad addition and James Vaughan, if he can say fit, would give that missing pace. Darren Pratley at Swansea is also someone who could add to the midfield in my opinion.