Thank you Derby County, from a Leeds United fan
26 Jul 2020 07:56 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Before we say goodbye to the Championship and the one-sided rivalries that others love to push; Carlisle, Doncaster Rovers, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town (Honestly lads, we don’t care!) There is one that the media have loved to hype up the most, Leeds United v Derby County. But let’s be honest, there is no Leeds United vs Derby County rivalry, I won’t have it, despite what Sky Sports might tell you. Even when the two clubs were competing at the top of Division one in the early 70s it was one sided, more about Clough’s paranoia that any actual feud between the two sets of fans. I doubt Don Revie ever gave too much thought to Derby County. Even the events of last season didn’t foster a rivalry for me, in fact I would like to thank Derby County.
It started in January of last year. Leeds United were playing beautiful Bielsaball and it looked as though promotion to the Premier League was on the cards. We seemed to have become some kind of hipster team, everyone’s second team as they adulated both Bielsa and his beautiful brand of football. Even Manchester based journalists were writing nice things about Leeds United. It was all a bit worrying! But on 10th January order was restored as whingey Frank Lampard revealed that his Derby team had to stop their training session as a Leeds United employee was caught peering over the bushes at their session. Marcelo Bielsa admitted it straight away, to him it was a normal part of the game, but the media erupted.
Given what little difference any of the ‘spying’ will probably have made the faux outrage from many washed up pundits clamouring to have their say was quite frankly embarrassing, Jermaine Jenas leader amongst the baying mob demanding a points deduction. With Leeds United’s rivals baying for their pound of flesh it felt like Leeds United vs the World again, and that’s just how we like it! It had felt awkward, being everyone’s darlings, people being complimentary about us. But in one fell swoop everyone was reminded of ‘Dirty Leeds’, they all hated us again and it felt great. All thanks to Frank Lampard and Derby County.
The 2018-2019 season didn’t end as we had hoped ultimately, they capitulation against Derby at Elland Road the final straw. But I already felt like we’d blown it by then, the kick to the guts came in April against Wigan. That was the worst I’ve felt as a Leeds fan. So much worse than relegation against Bolton or Ipswich, worse than play-off defeat to Watford or Doncaster because there had been hope. Yes, we were still level on points with Sheffield United but it felt like we had blown it, the performance more so than the result felt like we had capitulated in the worst possible way, choked at the last minute. We’d blown the title, blown automatic promotion, my confidence for the play-offs was at rock bottom.
In many ways Derby did us a favour by beating us in that second leg. Sure, it hurt at the time and sure we’d have had a nice day out at Wembley if we’d beaten them but in hindsight, I wouldn’t want to swap the season we’ve just had for anything. The football has been a joy to watch yet again, more pragmatic than last season perhaps but still wonderous and beautiful. What’s more we’ve romped home to the title, Champions by a clear ten points with a goal difference to match anyone’s and we have reclaimed that trophy that was ours the last time it represented the pinnacle of English football. Without Derby we don’t get to be crowned Champions and Liam Cooper doesn’t get to lift that trophy, so thanks lads and thanks for the guard of honour too.