Sheeping with the enemy..

There aren’t many subjects on which Derby and Forest fans will find an accord, but there are two highly notable individuals who were pivotal to the history of both provincial clubs.  All but the most football-ignorant of people will probably be able to name them – and today Derby County FC officially unveiled a fantastic statue of them in Unity Plaza, just outside their Pride Park stadium.

Rich and I popped along today for the advertised 1pm unveiling, only to find the statue already uncovered presumably from when it was revealed to a select group of family and organising committee yesterday.  I thought I was cunningly hiding my Forest shirt from the surprisingly sparse crowd only to later realise I had a small Forest badge on my coat!

There wasn’t a ceremony as such but legendary Derby player and later manager (and indeed, former Forest manager) Dave Mackay made an appearance as the clock wound round to one, and quite a crowd had gathered to take in the new addition to Derby’s home.  It’s a lovely statue, and a fitting tribute to two very special football characters.

Obviously the most glaring difference here is the inclusion of Peter Taylor – someone who is routinely ignored by the powers-that-be at Forest due to the nature of his departure (as they see it) then re-emergence as Derby’s manager.  Pretty childish if you ask me, the man had such a huge impact on our history too, it’s terribly sad he’s not remembered appropriately by Forest.

The other difference is the pair are elevated on a 9ft plinth rather than being at ‘interacting’ level as the statues in Middlesbrough and Nottingham are.  I think given the football ground setting that works quite well, and at the base compass points mark out landmarks where the pair made impacts – including the City Ground, and indeed the sites of Forest’s European Cup triumphs.

There seemed to be mixed views on these inclusions from the assembled Derby fans once the statue was opened up for people to fully approach – it took a while before I was able to grab a photo of the City Ground plaque as there was quite a bit of jocular ‘stamping’ going on.

All in all, another fantastic monument to Clough and an overdue one for Taylor – I would hope one day Forest officially see fit to commemorate both men in such a fitting manner – with Nottingham’s statue of course being very much a tribute from the people of the city rather than club-led (not that it wasn’t aided by the club).

Of course, Derby’s statue was also as a result of a fans petition, and it was great to meet Kalwinder, a Derby fan who has been pivotal to the whole thing.  A real statue to be proud of for Derby fans and wider football fans alike.  For fans of my fledgling media career I also gave a short interview for BBC Radio Derby, no idea whether it aired or not though!

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