Overly long writings about West Ham United FC. This is the kind of thing you might like, if you like this kind of thing.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Match Preview: Derby County vs West Ham United - 10/11/2007

1. Desolate Derby

Ok, people - much in the same vein as the Bolton review, I'm struggling to fill half a side of A4 with anything even remotely interesting in regard to this least mouth-watering of fixtures. This will be quick.... and largely inconsequential.

2. Errr...

Derby was given it's city-status in 1977 and is twinned with the German city of Onasbruck.

This is a fact (Google it, I dare you) much like Dave Whelan being a convicted price-fixer and Michael Dawson being 86% plywood with a weathered finish.

Derby as a team or a place do not provide much in the way of inspiration. This is one of those games in which we would have little if any excuse in not claiming all 3 points. And not just clinging to a 1-0 scoreline with 10 minutes to go (Sunday proved we're incapable of that), we really should be putting these kind of teams to the sword, home and away if we have any realistic aspirations of finishing in the top half this season.

3.The History

In 1717 England's fist silk mill opened in Derby.

Our last head-to-heads came in the 2004-'05 Championship season when The Rams took four points of us, drawing 1-1 at their place and predictably winning 2-1 at ours. We haven't had much joy at Pride Park of late, winning only once in the last five visits and only scoring twice.

Still, rumour has it Trevor Morley might come out of retirement (after the closet) for this one and he's sure to bag a hat-full.

4. I Name Thee...

Dicky Davies. Magnus Magnusson. Herman Munster.

Choosing the right name can be a tricky thing. Even in this increasingly corporate age (how long before 'The Emirates Stadium' is overtaken by the likes of 'Pepsi Presents White Hart Lane'?), naming one's ground 'Pride Park' borders on the sickening. What have Derby fans got to be proud of?

(Apart from having a winger with the face of a boxer in Marco Gabbiadini, obviously. Now there's a good name).

5. Comic Relief

In the 1890's slum clearance began in Derby, albeit on a very modest scale.

Despite our sketchy history in this fixture of late, any travelling fans stand a good chance of entertainment this Saturday.

I was once mobile enough to travel to Pride Park with His Sharkness for a tame 0-0 affair, almost Shakespearean in it's tragedy. The game was largely if not entirely forgettable but one aspect of the day continues to stand out, for Derby's mascot, 'Rammie The Ram' ranks among our own 'Herbie The Hammer' for sheer comical genius.

Picture the scene - a halftime penalty competition for the under-8s with 'Rammie' in goal. Young lads running around full of energy, aspiration and unbridled joy, over the moon to have the opportunity to score on their beloved home turf...

...only to have their dreams systematically crushed by a full-grown man in a Ram suit who refused to be beaten.

You would've thought 'Rammie' might let one penalty attempt slip through his grasp or fumble a good effort into the back of the net, but no. Never have I seen such a display of determination and athleticism. 'Rammie' flung himself from left to right, bottom corner to top, booting tame attempts 30 yards away with utter contempt and staring down the children whilst strutting around on his goal line like a Goliath of the barnyard.

He was cheered long into the cold afternoon by the West Ham faithful that day. Great entertainment. That ruthless 6ft ball of wool still holds a place in my heart.

6. When Will I See You Again?

Did we actually sign Julian Faubert, Freddie Ljungberg and Scott Parker in the summer? Are they tricks of the light or is Jeremy Beadle going to jump out at any moment with a deflating revelation and a microphone clasped in his withered hand? I'm beginning to wonder.

The first cinema in Derby opened in 1910.

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