The perception among many neutrals and every member of the Sky Sports fixture selection team is that Derby County vs. Leicester City is a passionate, hearty and eagerly anticipated derby match and while that may have once been the case, it’s importance has been dwindling for years.
Just 24 miles separates the cities of Derby and Leicester and with heavily populated towns lying on the borders of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, there would be no real surprise if there was a huge rivalry between the two clubs. In truth, the rivalry has ebbed and flowed for many decades. The Rams first met the Foxes in February 1894, making it the oldest of Leicester’s rivalries. It is also the most contested of the three East Midlands derbies with 104 meetings in the last 119 years. There have been several controversial matches between the two with most, admittedly coming in the last 20 or so years. Leicester defeated Derby in the 1994 Division One play-off final in a game that would become known as the ‘Silence of the Rams’. The two clubs then battled during the late nineties and early noughties in the top flight as both’s preferred rivals, Nottingham Forest were nowhere to be seen. Leicester, in fact hold an impressive record over Derby in recent times with six wins in the last seven meetings. Although, Derby hold the greater record overall with 46 wins to Leicester’s 31.
Ironically, Derby fans bemoan the lack of history involved in this rivalry citing Nottingham Forest and Leeds United as rivalries for them with greater historical importance due to the switching sides of Brian Clough and his rivalry with Leeds’ Don Revie back in the 1970s. As I’m sure most fans are aware, Derby like to emulate their Red rivals in dismissing Leicester with claims that they “don’t care” about them. Funnily enough, their fans haven’t seemed to have grasped the irony of that statement given their unrequited dislike of Leeds. Leicester see Forest as bigger rivals too due to greater connections in historical and geographical senses. In recent times, City have too begun to see West Midlands, Coventry as rivals. In my rivalry survey from the 2012–13 season, Derby listed Leicester as their third biggest rivals behind Forest and Leeds and Leicester listed Derby as their second biggest rivals, only just beating Coventry. In comparison to Leicester placing as Derby’s second biggest rivals in a similar survey ten years earlier, we can see the decreasing feeling of disdain between the two.
In all honesty, a casual reader of The Sun’s ‘Super Goals’ could be forgiven for not noticing the apparent rivalry between the two clubs, as attendances barely increase when they meet. However, this could be due to Sky Sports influence who have screened 4 of the last 5 meetings between the two, not to mention the rising costs of tickets.
Recent home attendances
|Home side / Season||2010/11||2011/12||2012/13||2013/14|
Recent away attendances
|Away side / Season||2011/12||2012/13||2013/14|
It’ll probably tell you all you need to know that when the two clubs were drawn to face each other last week in the third round of the Capital One Cup, a third of fans were excited, a third were indifferent and a third were legitimately disappointed at playing just a divisional rival.
How the Foxes see it
“In my opinion, it isn’t as big as it was – as with many derby games. The intensity of the “derby” has reduced in many years, with the emphasis by clubs on “family friendly atmospheres”, but they are still guilty of trying to talk up a dying act. With Derby, I believe many Leicester fans focus mainly on Forest & Coventry, leaving Derby in the rough – forgotten about in a way.
Of course, those that live in areas like Donington, Coalville, and even Loughborough to some extent, will beg to differ, as there’s a wide mix of both Leicester & Derby fans, sparking local rivalries, but nothing on a wide scale. With Derby running down the order, not really challenging for the title, like Leicester and Forest, the competition for “we’re higher than you” hasn’t really been much of a talking point – Such as the dramatic and tight ending of last season, we can all predict who will be up there and who won’t.
As for atmosphere, I can’t really comment about Pride Park, as I haven’t been able to visit in a few years. But at the King Power, it’s a little like a normal fixture, with the cringe-worthy bigging-up by either club, trying to spark a rivalry with ticket promotions and e-newsletters for “The East Midlands Derby”.” – @SamJohnson23
The Rams’ view
“It’s not really dead, it is dying though. Mainly because of the connections between derby and forest fans, the connections of the clubs as a whole. We know each other, we work with each other, the clubs, particularly at the moment have ex staff at their rivals club.
Nobody knows a Leicester fan, we don’t share anything, there’s no real history, plus we wind you up by pretending you don’t matter which is having a negative effect on the rivalry.
Leicester will always be a rival to me” – BlackNWhites, Rams Talk
Basically, Derby and Leicester aren’t the greatest of rivals. The sad state of affairs is that Leicester probably get more disdain from Peterborough and Derby probably get the same from Burton Albion these days. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration but the point remains that the fierce rivalry I grew up with in the 1990s no longer exists. Maybe it’s because of Sky, maybe it’s because of ticket prices or maybe it’s because Derby fans like to dismiss Leicester as beneath them, in line with Forest’s superiority complex. Whatever the reason, the meetings of these two clubs will always stir up a bit of interest and excitement but to put it plainly this rivalry is at death’s door.