Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here
Nickname: The Rams
Ground: Pride Park Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 33,502
Song: The Derby Ram (also known as When I Go To Derby)
The world series of baseball is misnamed. It’s the championship of the major-league baseball teams in the United States and Canada only. The rest of the world doesn’t get a look in despite the sport’s popularity in Japan, Latin America and Cuba.
Although baseball’s a minority sport in the UK there was, for a short period of time, a British Baseball League. In the 1890’s a Derbyshire businessman, Sir Francis Ley, wanted healthier and more productive workers and he constructed a baseball pitch at his factory in Derby.
Sir Francis organised a team to enter the British league, a four-team professional circuit, which he would have won but the other teams complained about his lack of sportsmanship – he’d bought American players to bolster his squad. Even in the nineteenth century, money could buy sporting success.
Although the league was short-lived it did leave one legacy. Sir Francis Ley’s baseball ground became the Baseball Ground, the second (of three) stadiums for Derby County.
Derby County’s one of the original twelve founding members of the Football League and one of only ten clubs to have competed in every season. It also holds a number of other records, most of which are unwanted. During the 2007-08 Premier League campaign it equalled the league record of just one win in a season; it had the least home wins and the least away wins; the most defeats; the least number of goals and the worst goal difference.
Perhaps Derby is cursed? When the club moved to the Baseball Ground in 1895 there was a story that a group of gypsies was forced to move their camp to make way for the Baseball Ground. Legend has it that they put a curse on the ground preventing Derby County winning the FA Cup. It wasn’t a very good curse – Derby won the FA Cup in 1946.
Derby has one record that’s unlikely to be matched. It’s the only club to have had three home grounds host full England internationals. Once at Derby’s original ground The Racecourse Ground in 1895, secondly at the Baseball Ground in 1911 and lastly at the current home, Pride Park, in 2001.
The club also had the first ever club mascot – a ram named Rammie. Rammie is a full-time employee of the club and works to maintain the club’s links with fans through charity and community work.
The club has a ram as its symbol to represent it’s link to the First Regiment of Derby Militia. The militia took a ram as its mascot and used the song, The Derby Ram as its regimental song.
“As I was going to Derby,
All on the market day,
I spied the finest ram, sir,
That ever was fed on hay,
And indeed me lads,
It’s true me lads,
I never was known to lie,
If you’d have been to Derby,
You’d have seen the same as I“
No one knows the song’s exact origin. It has been around for at least 200 years with reports that in 1796 the first US president, George Washington even sang The Derby Ram to a friend’s children.
In 1855 the first Regiment of Derbyshire Militia adopted a ram as its regimental mascot, a tradition which continues to this day through the Mercian Regiment of the British Army. Lance-corporal Derby, as the current mascot is known as presented to the Mercians by the Duke of Devonshire. Derby is paid £3.75 a day, draws his own rations, and, as the Derby Telegraph reports, he even has to have his leave card with him when he takes his annual holiday on the Duke’s Chatsworth estate.
American country and western star Merle Travis once recorded a version entitled Darby’s Ram. Identical twins the Kossoy Sisters recorded a version titled The Darby Ram on their 1956 album Bowling Green. And in 1963 the New Christy Minstrels released Down to Darby, an adaptation of the Derby Ram on their album The New Christy Minstrels Tell Tall Tales.
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