We are the Champions: 1974-75 – Derby County

Derby 1974-75 (700x399)
Given the depth of talent at the club, it was no surprise that Derby County secured their second Football League Championship in four seasons in 1975. But it was not their charismatic and controversial manager of 1972, Brian Clough, that led them to the title. Clough and his number two, Peter Taylor, left the club in the autumn of 1973 and in October of that year, Dave Mackay was appointed as manager.

Mackay, who had been so important to Derby’s rise into the first division between 1968 and 1971, moved from Swindon Town to take on the job. He signed a handful of players to reshape the Derby team: Welsh international full-back Rod Thomas arrived from Swindon in November 1973, goal-scoring midfielder Bruce Rioch joined from Aston Villa in February 1974 and forward Francis Lee, a member of Manchester City’s championship side of 1968, was signed in August 1974. In addition, Clough’s last signing, Henry Newton, an England under-23 international, had established himself in the team.

The 1974-75 season was one of the most open in the league’s history. At the final count, only 11 points separated mid-table Queens Park Rangers and Derby on 53 points. Furthermore, the leadership changed hands almost weekly, with more than half a dozen teams in with a chance of winning the title in the closing stages. Consistency seemed to be a problem among most clubs and Derby only topped the table in the final weeks.

Ipswich Town’s fine side made the early running, but fixture congestion and a relatively thin squad got the better of them. Champions Leeds and 1971 winners Arsenal were in decline and Liverpool were rebuilding. Manchester United were in the second division. The title race brought new, less-fancied teams to the fore, such as Stoke City, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Everton and Sheffield United.

Derby’s early season form did not hint at a serious challenge. They were beaten by newly promoted – and eventually relegated – Carlisle United (0-3) and Luton Town (0-1) and, at the turn of the year, they were in ninth place, three points behind leaders Ipswich.

DerbyLeagueCupChamps1975-Brochure-LInto 1975, Derby were still at the back end of the chasing pack come March and when they were beaten at home by Stoke City, teams like the Potters and Burnley seemed to be better placed. But such was the intensity and unpredictability of this title race that hopes fluctuated with every result. The Easter period was especially productive for Mackay’s side. They scored 12 goals in three games, beating Luton (5-0 – Roger Davies scoring a quintet of goals), Burnley (5-2) and Manchester City (2-1) to jump to third in the table, level on points with Ipswich and Everton.

Derby went top for the first time on April 12 after Bruce Rioch’s goal beat West Ham at the Baseball Ground. Derby were on 51 points and had two games remaining, Ipswich were in fourth, three points behind but with three to play. Derby edged closer on April 19 when they drew 0-0 at Leicester but crucially, Ipswich, Liverpool and Everton all lost. It meant that Derby’s 52 points were too much for the Merseyside duo, who were both three points behind, and only Ipswich could delay the celebrations by winning their game in hand at Manchester City. Derby’s final game was at home to relegated Carlisle. It was all academic, as Ipswich drew at Maine Road and a lack-lustre Derby drew 0-0 on the final Saturday to rubber-stamp the title with a low points total of 53.

Derby were deprived of influential captain Roy McFarland for most of the season through injury, although he returned in the final four games of the campaign. The regular line-up was from:
Boulton, Webster, Thomas, Daniel, Todd, Nish, Newton, Powell, Rioch, Gemmill, Hector, Davies, Lee and Hinton.

Colin Boulton (28): Boulton was the only player to play all 84 of Derby’s title-winning games over the two seasons. He was a dependable goalkeeper, often overlooked, but his handling and ability to deal with crosses were sound. He played 344 games for the Rams, joining the club in 1964 and leaving in 1977.

Ron Webster (31): Belper-born Webster was a hard-tackling defender and the only local man in the Derby title side. He served eight managers in his 17 years with the club and played well over 500 games for Derby. He was named player of the year in 1974.

Peter Daniel (27): An unsung hero of a player who filled in for Roy McFarland in 1974-75 and played almost 250 games for Derby between 1965 and 1979. A steady, unspectacular player who could always be relied upon.

Colin Todd (25): An excellent defender who ranks among the finest of the 1970s. Signed by Derby in February 1971 from Sunderland for a £170,000 fee. He was capped 27 times by England and would have won more but for strong competition in his position. He had a good turn of speed, a strong sense of anticipation and was very strong in the tackle. He was [surprisingly] sold to Everton in 1978 for £ 300,000, a decision not well received by Derby’s supporters.

David Nish (26): Derby paid £ 225,000 to Leicester City for this accomplished defender in August 1972. An elegant player, he captained his former club at the age of 21 in the 1969 FA Cup final. He also won five England caps, possibly deserving more. He left Derby in 1979 for Tulsa Roughnecks.

Rod Thomas (27): Welsh international full back (50 caps) Thomas was one of Swindon Town’s star players when the Wiltshire club beat Arsenal in the 1969 Football League Cup final. He joined Derby in November 1973, earning Swindon an £ 80,000 fee in the process. He stayed with Derby until 1977 when he was sold to Cardiff City.

Henry Newton (30): Newton was very close to winning a full cap for England throughout his career, but did not quite make the breakthrough with the national team. A fierce-tackling midfielder, he played for Nottingham Forest and Everton before arriving at Derby in September 1973, costing the club £ 100,000. He moved to Walsall in 1977.

Bruce Rioch (26): Midfielder Rioch joined Derby in February 1974 from Aston Villa and was top scorer in the 1974-75 season, his explosive shooting a set-pieces proving invaluable. He had also played for Luton Town earlier in his career. Although born in Aldershot, he was capped 24 times by Scotland, appearing in the 1978 World Cup. He was sold to Everton in December 1976 but returned to Derby for a second spell nine months later. He eventually left the club in 1979.

Archie Gemmill (27): Few players have made such an impact across two clubs as Gemmill did with Derby and – latterly – with Nottingham Forest. A hard-running midfielder with perceptive passing ability, Gemmill joined Derby in September 1970 from Preston North End for a bargain £ 60,000. He won 43 Scotland caps and will forever be remembered for his contribution in the 1978 World Cup. He played more than 400 games for Derby – across two spells – with a highly successful period with Forest in between.

Steve Powell (18): A versatile player who captained England Schools and England Youth. He made his debut for Derby in 1971 aged 16 and in a 14-year career with the club, made almost 400 appearances.

Kevin Hector (29): Hector cost Derby £ 40,000 when he joined them from Bradford City in 1966. A swift forward with fine balance and strong finishing, he scored over 200 goals in almost 600 games for the club. He was briefly capped by England, bizarrely making his debut in the closing seconds of the ill-fated World Cup qualifying game against Poland in October 1973.

Roger Davies (23): Plucked from non-league Worcester City by Brian Clough in 1971, Davies was a tall centre forward with good aerial skills and was a handful for opposition defenders. He was sold to Bruges in 1976 for £ 135,000 and subsequently played for Leicester before returning to Derby in 1979. He scored 44 goals in 166 games for the club.

Francis Lee (30): Francis Lee, in his prime, was an outstanding forward who won 27 caps (10 goals) for England when he was with Manchester City. Although at the veteran stage of his career when he arrived at Derby, he had two excellent seasons with the club, scoring 30 goals in 82 league games. And aggressive and incisive front-runner, he was also renowned for his ability to win and score penalties. Retired from the game in 1976 to concentrate on his business interests.

Alan Hinton (31): One of the best crossers of the ball in the game, Hinton joined Derby in September 1967 from Nottingham Forest for £ 35,000. He had already won three England caps before arriving at the Baseball Ground. A superb creator of goals, he was also proficient at free-kicks and corners. He made over 300 appearances for Derby, scoring more than 80 goals.
Football League Appearances

Boulton, C 42 Hinton, A 8+5 Rioch, B 42
Bourne, J 7+10 Lee, F 34 Thomas, R 22
Daniel, P 37 McFarland, R 4 Todd, C 39
Davies, R 39+1 Newton, H 35+1 Wesbter, R 24
Gemmill, A 41 Nish, D 38
Hector, K 38 Powell, S 12+3

Goalscorers: Rioch 15, Hector 13, Davies 12, Lee 12, Daniel 3, Newton 3, Bourne 2, Hinton 2, Nish 2, Powell 2, Webster 1. Total: 67

Football League Results

Aug 17 Everton Away D 0–0 42,193
Aug 21 Coventry City Home D 1–1 Lee 25,717
Aug 24 Sheffield United Home W 2–0 Hector, Davies 23,088
Aug 27 Coventry City Away D 1–1 Davies 18,586
Aug 31 Tottenham Hotspur Away L 0–2 20,770
Sept 7 Newcastle United Home D 2–2 Davies, Lee 21,197
Sept 14 Birmingham City Away L 2–3 Rioch, Davies 27,345
Sept 21 Burnley Home W 3–2 Hector, Rioch (pen), Lee 21,377
Sept 25 Chelsea Home W 4–1 Rioch, Webster, Daniel, Hector 22,036
Sept 28 Stoke City Away D 1–1 Lee 23,589
Oct 5 West Ham United Away D 2–2 Lee, Hector 32,900
Oct 12 Leicester City Home W 1–0 Rioch 24,753
Oct 15 Sheffield United Away W 2–1 Lee 2 21,882
Oct 19 Carlisle United Away L 0–3 13,353
Oct 26 Middlesbrough Home L 2–3 Hector, Hinton 24,036
Nov 2 Leeds United Away W 1–0 Lee 33,551
Nov 9 Queens Park R Home W 5–2 Hector, Rioch, Lee 23,339
Nov 16 Arsenal Away L 1–3 Rioch (pen) 32,286
Nov 23 Ipswich Town Home W 2–0 Hector, Rioch 24,341
Dec 7 Liverpool Away D 2–2 Bourne, Davies 41,058
Dec 14 Everton Home L 0–1 24,991
Dec 21 Luton Town Away L 0–1 12,862
Dec 26 Birmingham City Home W 2–1 Bourne, Rioch 26,121
Dec 28 Manchester City Away W 2–1 Newton, Lee 40,188
Jan 11 Liverpool Home W 2–0 Newton, Lee 33,463
Jan 18 Wolverhampton W Away W 1–0 Newton 24,515
Feb 1 Queens Park R Away L 1–4 Rioch 20,686
Feb 8 Leeds United Home D 0–0 33,641
Feb 22 Arsenal Home W 2–1 Powell 2 24,002
Feb 25 Ipswich Town Away L 0–3 23,078
Mar 1 Tottenham Hotspur Home W 3-1 Rioch, Daniel, Davies 23,000
Mar 8 Chelsea Away W 2–1 Daniel, Hinton 22,644
Mar 15 Stoke City Home L 1–2 Hector 29,985
Mar 22 Newcastle United Away W 2–0 Nish, Rioch 31,010
Mar 29 Luton Town Home W 5–0 Davies 5 24,619
Mar 31 Burnley Away W 5–2 Rioch, Nish, Davies, Hector 2 24.276
Apr 1 Manchester City Home W 2-1 Rioch 2 32,966
Apr 5 Middlesbrough Away D 1–1 Hector 30,066
Apr 9 Wolverhampton W Home W 1–0 Lee 30,109
Apr 12 West Ham United Home W 1–0 Rioch 31,336
Apr 19 Leicester City Away D 0–0 38,943
Apr 26 Carlisle United Home D 0–0 38,000

FA Cup: Round Five
Football League Cup: Round Three
UEFA Cup: Round Three
Average home attendance: 26,719

Pos   P W D L F A Pts
1 Derby County 42 21 11 10 41 18 53
2 Liverpool 42 20 11 11 60 39 51
3 Ipswich Town 42 23 5 14 66 44 51

4 thoughts on “We are the Champions: 1974-75 – Derby County

  1. After having commented on your post on the European Cup Winners Cup of 1968 – 1969 and the victory of Slovan Bratislava over Barcelona in the Final I just had to head on over to this post on the great days of my home city club, even as a ‘Derbyshire Canary’, since it is quite a memory-jogger in so many ways.

    I remember the very early stages of that season thanks to perhaps the strangest of the ‘Dormobile’ holidays with our family, when we should have been on a second holiday in the West Country in two years, the first having been notable for the vehicle breaking down attempting to climb the Dunkery Beacon hill and meeting a local who knew Farnah Green, in my home town of Belper (good to see Belper mentioned above!) while we were parked up just outside Minehead where Dad was getting spare parts for the ‘Dormobile’. We stopped at my uncle’s farm in South Derbyshire on the way to the West Country and couldn’t get going there, so we abandoned the rest of the holiday and stayed there instead for the duration. That coincided with Carlisle United’s deceptively encouraging start to their first Top Flight campaign.

    Since you mention David Nish when I was researching the background for a led walk I do around old nightspots in Derby called ‘A Night Out in Derby…In the Afternoon???’ I happened to discover that his Rams debut was against the Canaries at Carrow Road (1 – 0 to the Canaries, with the late, great Graham Paddon scoring for the Canaries) on a very significant day in World sport, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the tragic Munich Olympics and a very significant day in the history of Bratislava, the opening of the Most SNP, or Nový Most, as it is alternatively known, famous for the ‘UFO’ on the south bank of the Danube.

    Also, just two days later, Valérie Čižmárová, for whom I run the Fan Blog, ‘Bananas For Breakfast’, would go on to record the song that was my first-ever uploading to my YouTube channel of a Valérie Čižmárová song, ‘Oči nelžou’ (‘Eyes Don’t Lie’) and my all-time favourite by her, ‘Říkáš pořád, jak ti na mně záleží’ (‘You Always Say How You Care For Me’) at the first visit in her recording career to the legendary Mozarteum recording studio on Jungmannova in Prague.

    Finally, it’s very good to see the date 21st September 1974 mentioned as the day of one of the Rams’ matches in that successful campaign against today’s opponents for Norwich City (2 – 0 to the Canaries!) as that was the day on which Valérie Čižmárová sang the song with the memorably long seventeen-second-long note ‘Náhodou’ (‘By Chance’) on the television show, ‘Zpěváci Supraphonu – Hudební obrázovka 8’ (‘The Singers Of Supraphon – Musical Screen 8’) in a memorably short polka-dot mini dress! I was at Turf Moor on the Forty-Fifth Anniversary of that television appearance and I really wish I hadn’t been since I had an unfortunate incident with the British Transport Police on the way back at Sheffield Railway Station and the Canaries had lost in any case. I wish I’d have spent that day getting together a celebratory post at ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ instead, which would have been considerably more enjoyable!

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