Supporting Derbyshire – Through Thin and Thin
No-one supports Derbyshire Cricket Club for the glory. No one supports them for the regular cup finals at Lords or to see a side bristling with England Test players.To support Derbyshire CC you must be from Derbyshire and really love cricket. In fact you must be from Derbyshire, really love cricket and have a sado-masochistic streak. Luckily, I am from Derbyshire, really love cricket and my formative years ere spent watching Derby County deteriorate from being the best team in England to a mid table Third Division team so I was already prepared for mediocrity. My Dad used to say ‘blessed is he who expecteth nothing for he is never disappointed’. I reminded myself of these sage words on a regular basis as I trudged back to the car or bus stop in the biting wind of what passed for a Derbyshire summer after another ignominious defeat.
To tell the full story of Derbyshire CC I have to give you some basic facts. We are the worst supported team in the country by far and we have the worst ground in the country. No our ground used to be the worst in the country but it has been massively improved so it is now only just the shittest ground in the country. No longer do opposing teams have to send bus driver or the kitman to chippy to avoid our appalling teas and there is shelter from the rain. In one stand. If the wind isn’t blowing in the wrong direction. After closing the tea room and replacing it with a repellent burger van that even inebriated football fans would bypass, the loudest noise at the Racecourse Ground is not applause, it’s the opening of Tupperware boxes and crisp packets at the players walk off for lunch.
Now this set of circumstances has bred a certain breed of cricket supporter. Hardy, wind tousled old curmudgeons who have a healthy distrust of t’Committee and an unhealthy sense of pessimism. There are parts of the ground unofficially named Grumbler’s Corner, the Waiting for God Stand, Nutter’s Enclosure and the Party Stand. Ok, I made the last one up. I belong to a different fringe group, the Youngsters. Of course at 49 I wouldn’t be considered a youngster in most sections of society, but as a recent county game I reckon I was 3rd or 4th youngest in a crowd of 250. Hopefully, in 15-20 years I will have been considered to have paid my dues and could join Grumbler’s Corner or perhaps more likely the Nutter’s Enclosure.
There are been flashes of brilliance and delight, I grew up watching a half decent team with Peter Kirsten and John Wright as the overseas stars and 3 England Test players in Mike Hendrick, Geoff Miller and the great Bob Taylor. We won 2 limited overs finals at Lords in 1981and1990 and Dominic Cork and Devon Malcolm were England regulars in the 90s. However those days seem long behind us. We haven’t had a Test player for 20 years and the only time we play at Lords is when Middlesex get relegated (sorry Herbie).
So why am I a member and do I turn up in hat, coat and gloves in April to watch the first game of the season, sipping port to stop hypothermia setting in and grimly acknowledging our win against Durham is purely a fluke and our usual barren spell will extinguish any faint hope of promotion.
Well, I’m from Derbyshire and I really love cricket so what choice have I got?