Aston Villa head up the road to Derby to face Derby County today. Derby is nestled in between Nottingham and Burton-upon-Trent, two more places which will host Aston Villa locally during this long campaign.
Writing these little pieces, you start to remember just how much history is embedded into the United Kingdom.
Take Derby for instance, founded as a Roman settlement in what’s now known as Little Chester.
Just a Roman settlement. Derby was once known as Derventio Coritanorum. I can tell you right now, that’s a name as far away from Derby (or as the locals call it, Daarghbeh) as one can imagine. It’s honestly mindblowing.
That’s not all. Derby used to be under the jurisdiction of ‘The Danelaw’ back in 800AD. The part of England which was ruled over by the Dane tribe of Scandinavia. After tiring of raiding England, the Vikings settled until Alfred of Wessex kicked the crap out of a few of them and forced them to be baptised under the watch of the Lord. The Danes didn’t stop there and one of them, Cnut took over the entirety of England and folded it into his North Sea Empire. His legacy remains today within the followers of Birmingham City, who are described by other football fans with the use of an anagram of the old Dane’s name.
Back to Derby. The town emulates Birmingham and Sheffield with it’s industrial heritage and has become a real ‘Jack Of All Trades’ and manufactures everything from cars to aeroplane engines. Rolls-Royce and Toyota are proud to call the city of Derby ‘home’.
Derby has also become a significant cultural centre for the deaf community in Britain. Many deaf people move to Derby because of its strong sign language-using community. It is estimated that the deaf population in Derby is at least three times higher than the national average, and that only London has a larger deaf population. The Royal School for the Deaf on Ashbourne Road provides education in British Sign Language and English.
The above is important because Villa are known for their vocal travelling support and may very well blow the ears off of a few Derby fans. It’s good to know the afflicted will be in safe hands.
Derby is also the historic centre of Britain’s rail industry and is also well situated to have a true claim to being the ‘centre’ of England.
Derby County, the team Aston Villa will face on are one of the most well-respected clubs in English football. If you’re an overseas fan, you’ll know of them through the Michael Sheen film - The Damned United. Derby play their home games at Pride Park Stadium, which is crowned with a statue of Sheen’s larger-than-life character in The Damned United - Brian Clough.
The icon of both Derby County and the city of Derby is the Derby ram. A song, by Llewellynn Jewitt focusing on the ram can be found in The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire:
As I was going to Darby, Sir,
All on a market day,
I met the finest Ram, Sir,
That ever was fed on hay.
Fal-de-ral, fal-de-ral, daddle-i-day.
This Ram was fat behind, Sir,
This Ram was fat before,
This Ram was ten yards high, Sir,
Indeed he was no more.
The Wool upon his back, Sir,
Reached up unto the sky,
The Eagles made their nests there, Sir,
For I heard the young ones cry.
Derby is twinned with Toyota City in Japan, Keene NH and Haarlem in the Netherlands.
Villa fans visiting Derby will have the chance to take in some historic sites in one of the truly ancient cities that are dotted around England. Let it sink in before Villa give it to the ‘Rams’.