In a new series of articles brought to you by Sportsweek, we are interviewing fans of teams across the footballing spectrum, giving them a platform to give their thoughts and opinions to matters pertaining to their own team and the worlds favourite sport – and giving you, the reader, opportunity to discuss and comment on the insights of the most passionate fans around.
Today, we speak to Emma Kinsey – a passionate Derby County fan – above left – en route to another Rams game with her friend Danielle – about recent times and events at Pride Park.
Name : Emma Kinsey
Age : 29
Location : South Derbyshire
Team : Derby County
Favourite Club Players of all Time : Tommy Smith, Craig Bryson and controversially Richard Keogh, he is undervalued amongst some here. Passion, commitment and his availability, rarely ever injured.
SW: Can you give us some insight into how long you’ve been a Derby fan and your journey to where the Club is today? Any individual games that stick out in the memory?
EK : I first had a season ticket for Derby County at the age of 13. I went to a one off game with my Dad the previous season and was hooked, I’ve remained in my seat in the East Stand ever since. The journey from then until now has been full of highs and lows, I’d say probably more lows looking back. One particular low being the obvious 11 point season, that was unbearable and although us supporters were brilliant all season, it did hurt to see us turn into a laughing stock amongst the football community. The play-off defeat to QPR another. That season was special, the football under McClaren was a joy to watch and to see us in my opinion undeservedly lose late on was heart breaking.
The better times most recently have been that fantastic night at Leeds in the play-offs, the feeling I felt in that away end that night I can’t imagine will ever be replicated again.
The 5-0 win against Forest at home was a day I’ll never forget. There’s also the 3-2 win away in the cup and the 2-1 win in the league at the City Ground that are up there for me. This was made even more special when in both of those away games we came back from being behind, and with ten men on one occasion to make the victory that much more sweeter.
SW : Its been an….interesting….time at Pride Park over recent seasons…numerous comings and goings with both managers and players…how have you perceived all the ‘churn’, culminating with Phillip Cocu now being in charge?
EK: During the Lampard saga there were quite a few managers being linked with Derby County and if I’m being honest, many didn’t leave me feeling overly excited. Once the Cocu story came to light there was suddenly an element of excitement again, another manager with an impressive playing career and had gone on to have success in management too. We had gone for the tried and tested managers many times in the past, and then given a manager with no experience a chance, the one route we had never gone down in our whole history was appointing a foreign manager. Hearing Cocu talk and the philosophy he wants to bring to the club fits, and I’m excited to see the club continue to grow.
SW: There was no doubt that Frank Lampard really caught the imagination of Derby fans, and took them through an epic 2018/19 season – though ending with ultimate failure – how do you look back on last season and judge it overall? Do you think Frank was right to leave Derby for Chelsea?
EK: Looking back on last season, we were treated to some really good football at times and had the pleasure of watching Mount, Tomori and Wilson grow with us and really thrive in the Championship. On the other hand, some performances left a lot to be desired and tactical changes were questioned. One that many including myself will ponder over for a long time is why one of the most naturally gifted goal scorers we’ve had at the club (Jack Marriott) was being left out week after week. Looking back though, the club had a feeling of togetherness that has been missing for a long time and there’s now finally a pathway for our academy players to get into the first team when before our academy wasn’t being utilised and I’m sure many young talented lads have missed out.
As for Lampard going to Chelsea, for me personally it was far too soon. He needed to gain more experience as a manager and he had the perfect opportunity to continue to do that with us. Lampard and Jody Morris who may I add is a very important person amongst his coaching staff currently fit the role that Chelsea need whilst under an embargo. They have the ability to work with and utilise youth players within the squad and his appointment has bought the club time and most likely more patience from Chelsea fans with one of their very highly thought after players returning.
Can I blame him for going and taking his dream job? Not at all, Chelsea’s in his heart and nobody can begrudge that.
SW: Knowing how it all turned out – are you happy that Derby are now with Cocu, or do you wish Lampard was still Derby boss?
EK : It’s a hard question to answer, because had Lampard still have been here I’d have been happy for him to continue taking us in the right direction and I think he would have eventually done that. However, in the first few games under Cocu I’ve really enjoyed what i have seen. Defensively we look more resolute than I’ve seen us look in years. Academy players, such as Jayden Bogle (above) are still being given the chance and there is still a buzz around the club.
SW: Wayne Rooney arrives at Pride Park in January 2020 in a player-coach capacity. Derby fans generally excited about it – fans at other clubs dismissing it as more a publicity/marketing ploy. What are your thoughts about it?
EK: For me, bringing Wayne Rooney into the club is a stroke of genius from Mel Morris. Season after season we have been there or there abouts and have just missed out, somebody of Wayne Rooney’s quality and experience could be what finally pushes over the line, even if he gets us say five goals in those last few games it may be that little bit of an extra boost we need. I have no doubt that he could have a massive impact in this league and show his class like he has throughout his career. Hundreds of shirts sold, media interest and no doubt more tv coverage, it’s not too bad financially for the club too.
SW: When you look back over all the players that have been a Ram during your support, which one ex player do you wish was still playing for us today?
EK: Thats a difficult one because over the years we’ve had some brilliant players at the club. I’d probably have to say Inigo Idiakez (above) though. We haven’t had anybody at the club since his departure that was able to take a decent free kick other than loanee Harry Wilson. There was nobody else you’d want to see standing over the ball for a free-kick when he was on the pitch. He came to Derby County unknown and soon became highly regarded by supporters.
SW: When Derby first make it back to the Premier League, do you think they will get more than 11 points?
EK: I’d like to think that the club is in a much better place now than it was back then. The season we got promoted we lacked any real quality and then went on to make average signings for big fees to try and compete in the Premier League. Now I believe we would be much better equipped. Throughout the club you can see us growing on and off the pitch, the future looks bright.
SW: Which ex-Derby manager would you choose to return to the club one day? Gary Rowett, Nigel Pearson or Paul Clement?
EK: Gary Rowett has burnt his bridges and to be honest, the football was tedious week after week. Nigel Pearson I was never a fan of before he was appointed, and that didn’t change in his short time at the club. So for me personally if any, I’d have to say Clement.
SW: Which is more likely – Derby win the Premier League or fall into the National League?
EK: I’d like to think the Premier League was more likely, but we’ve actually got to get there which has become quite the task since our last appearance. So falling into the National League is probably the more sensible answer. I often wonder if we are destined to stay in the Championship forever.
Lastly, some quickfire fun questions to answer :
Which other team(s) do you enjoy seeing lose the most? Forest and Leeds.
Dean Sturridge or Dean Saunders? Sturridge is more my era, so would have to say him.
Favourite away ground visited? I’ve had some great away days at Griffin Park, proper football ground and it’s a shame they are moving on. For comfort, the Emirates is a nice stadium.
Which other English team do you have a secret passion for? I like to see Blackpool do well, after all the club has been through I’m glad they are finally on the up.
The Derby bounce…Yes or No? I’m all for the bounce, at the right times though.
Which one would you have back? Mason Mount, Harry Wilson, Fikayo Tomori? Mason Mount, he’s a special talent. Without him we really struggled last season. He’s got a massive future ahead of him.
Who’s the GOAT – Ronaldo or Messi? The argument is that Ronaldo’s produced in different leagues and countries. But Messi is a joy to watch on the pitch. So I’d have to say Messi. Although I think we should appreciate them both whilst they are still playing and we have had the honour of watching them.
A fantastic bit of insight from Emma, who, like many Derby fans, has endured some torrid times – but has a distinct feeling of optimism going forward for a Club that holds the most unwanted of Premier League records – but is generally regarded as a true Premier League club.
Getting out of the Championship is no easy task – Derby have come close on several occasions now, but the consensus is that their overdue return to the top table of English football is getting ever closer. Much of the stability currently seen at Pride Park, despite the high turnover of managers, is down to Chairman Mel Morris – as well as the likes of Emma and the rest of the loyal, bouncing, fan base at Derby, who deserve every success going forward. Whether current incumbent Phillip Cocu can lead the Rams back to the promised land this season remains to be seen – but the young Academy produced talent Emma refers to means, surely, its just a matter of time.
Massive thanks to Emma for providing such a fine interview – please feel free to add your own comments via the article link below and let us – and Emma – know whether you agree or disagree with her views to the questions posed.