Derby County
Pride Park

Ground No. 14
Visited - Saturday 24th August 2004
Result - Derby County 1-4 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Nationwide League Division 1
Attendance - 29,954

This was the first away game of the season that I would be able to get to, and with being a new stadium, (Wolves never having played here before) it wasn’t going to be one that I would miss.

The train journey up from Wolverhampton went well enough, but once in the city you could easily get lost. Unfortunately I didn’t get to Derby until about 2:15, so had to go more or less straight to the ground, it was a fairly long walk, although there was a steady stream of home fans, so I followed them, and got there without too many hitches. Before going in I got a bite to eat from a burger van outside the stadium, though I wouldn’t really recommend it, as the food was overpriced, under cooked, and generally of a pretty poor standard.

From the outside it’s a pretty bland ground, and being on an industrial estate quite easily blends in to its surroundings. Inside however, despite having a lot of criticism about its design, I quite liked it, and thought that it was a very smart looking ground. The stands do all look similar, but they look good, and are of good quality, so it hasn’t just been done on the cheap.

The game started, and it was a pretty tense affair. Derby had only just been relegated from the Premiership and everyone was expecting them to do well in this division, but we took the lead through Alex Rae and were looking the better team. Unfortunately Paul Ince picked up an injury half way through the first half and after that there wasn’t much to choose, with Derby getting a goal back just before half time. We came out for the second half and again it was looking pretty even until with 10 minutes to go we got a second. After that Derby just collapsed and we got another two, which made the final score 4-1, which flattered us a bit.

It was a strange atmosphere from the home fans, with it going from very quite one moment, to very loud. It was like that for the entire game, although it was all good-natured, and there were no signs of trouble before or after the game. Once the match had finished it was another long walk back down to the station, and an even longer wait for another train, although I did get home eventually though!

Overall it had been a good day, with a very good result, from a game we expected to struggle in. Despite its reputation I loved the ground, and look forward to going back at some time.

Ground No. 14 (return visit)
Visited - Wednesday 2nd March 2005
Result - Derby County 3-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 24,109

This game had originally been scheduled for about a month earlier, but due to FA Cup commitments, had had to be postponed, which was quite annoying, as I was looking forward to going back to Pride Park for a daytime match because of taking pictures, but that would have to wait for another trip.   
I'd left early and arrived into Derby about 3pm, walking straight up to the ground. The route was familiar, and after a brisk walk, it was good to see the top of the ground come into sight. Once at the ground, I went all around taking pictures, it was different to how I remembered it. My memories were of it being considerably better than most of the new grounds, so it was a bit of a let down when seeing that 3 sides were the typical featureless exteriors that I've come to associate with the bowl designs, and looking at the East Stand, you really could be standing outside any one of Stoke, Reading or Middlesbrough. The one good point about Pride Parks exterior though is the West Stand, which does have an impressive entrance, and looks much better than the rest of the ground, in my opinion its one of the best looking exteriors to any stand in the country, so it was nice to see that at least.

After finishing up outside, with a few hours to spare until kick-off, I decided to see if there was an opportunity of getting inside. Fortunately there was, and so after a bit of a wait one of the security officers showed me around to get a few pictures, the one downside was due to them preparing for the game, they could only let me in the West Stand, and up to the corner of the North Stand, so I didn’t really manage to get the pictures that I'd wanted, but it was better than nothing.

After leaving there I walked back to the centre, spending a bit of time walking around, before coming back to the ground and going in at about 7pm. Got a few more pictures before meeting a friend and picking a place to sit, waiting for the game to start.

Almost immediately after kick-off we managed to score from a free kick, only to have it ruled out as offside, it then went from bad to worse, when on 9 minutes Derby went down to the other end and won a dubious free kick, only to score it in some style, with a curling shot from the edge of the area right into the corner of the net. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, and things started to look up when 3 minutes later we equalised from a Kenny Miller header. The rest of the half was end to end, with both teams pressing for goals, and Derby thought they had taken the lead again on 30 minutes, but to our delight, it was ruled out for offside and kept the scores level at half time.

After the break, we didn’t think the first half could be topped for action and excitement, but the second was even better! Seol somehow managed to miss an open goal from 6 yards out, but it didn’t matter when we took the lead on 72 minutes with a Lescott header, after Paul Ince had delivered a deadly free kick to the far post. Unfortunately we couldn’t hold onto the lead though, when the referee gave a very debatable penalty to Derby. Idiakez took it, and managed to score past Michael Oakes, only for the referee to order for it to be retaken after encroachment by the Derby players. Oakes saved the retake, only for the referee to unbelievably order it to be retaken for a third time, and to the delight of the home fans it was third time lucky with Derby levelling the scores at 2-2. There was more end to end action, until in the 89th minute we grabbed what looked like the winner when Carl Cort finished a great move. The lead wasn’t to last though and an extraordinary game finished on a low (or high depending what end you were in!) when Derby scrambled home a free kick in stoppage time.

Off the pitch the fans matched the effort on it, and both sets of supporters kept up a decent atmosphere, helped by the friendly stewards who didn’t seem to insist on people sitting down, although unlike the stewards the police seemed to be on overkill, for what later was revealed to be an operation to arrest Wolves hooligans for trouble caused at previous games. Fortunately there was no sign of it either before or after the game, with both sets of fans mixing freely outside the ground.

With emotions shattered, we left the ground and made the quick walk back to the station, getting the train home, not arriving back until after midnight due to a fault with a train.

Overall it was a good trip, the game was certainly exciting, if ultimately frustrating, perhaps more one for a neutral as opposed to a fan of either club. Despite my reservations about the outside of the ground, inside matched my memories of being perhaps the best new ground in the country. It’s not the biggest, but it does have a touch of quality, and also character about it that many similar designed grounds don’t have, and the acoustics are excellent, which of course helps add to the experience of visiting a stadium, so it’s one that I will no doubt enjoy going back to for the a third time.

Main Entrance to the West Stand

Rear of the West Stand

Rear of the Derbyshire Community Stand

The Club Shop

Rear of the East Stand

Rear of the South Stand

The Derbyshire Community Stand

The East Stand

The South Stand

The West Stand

The East Stand

The Derbyshire Community Stand

The West Stand


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