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.
Hyped… A souvenir sold in Tenerife.
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.
History… Leicester once scored four headed goals at Derby in the opening 15 minutes.
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
Recent away attendances
|Away side / Season
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
Uninspired… Poor attendances have the Foxes disinterested.
“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
“Is it a rivalry? Of course it is. Even though, as all of us Leicester fans know – “we’re all on our own”.
Back in the early to mid 90s, when I first started following Leicester, the rivalry was a lot bigger especially if you compare it with today. That 3-3 draw at Filbert Street
when Iwan Roberts scored that
hat-trick. That was intense, local rivalry at its very best.
Compare that to how the atmosphere and games between both clubs has been in the last few seasons and it doesn’t even come close for me. Even the teams hated each other back then. It just isn’t like that anymore.
Sadly, the new stadia has played a part in the demise of the rivalry. Higher ticket prices and the fans not being as close to each other at games due to segregation means the atmosphere in games is nowhere near what it used to be.
Of course, we Leicester fans know that Forest and Derby hate each other more than they do us. Boo hoo. But for seperate sets of fans to say there is no rivalry is ludicrous. Maybe Derby say that because we seem to get a good return out of them each season and it’s an easy way out?
Certainly amongst Leicester fans, where you live, work or what era you were brought up in generally defines which club out of forest or derby we see as our main rivals. But certainly in my opinion there’s no denying that when Leicester play derby there’s always that extra bit of edgy nervousness compared to that of what we feel against a team like Burnley that we have no real ties to. ” – @BertLCFC
“I have never really seen Derby as a major rivalry. I do a bit more these days, but I’ve never seen them as even close to being as big rivals to us as Forest are, and at one stage, even Coventry too.Coventry is a bit of a mismatch and it’s good to have more than one big game – so I do view the Derby games as being a bit bigger due to their absence but I don’t feel a serious sense of hatred when we play Derby. I see them as being quite a similar club to Leicester, if I’m being totally honest.There hasn’t really been a derby-day feel when playing them either. Whether it’s the crowds (or lack of them) or the lack of competition, I don’t know, but I don’t tend to feel hatred towards Derby, although I do view them as a side I enjoy beating.” – @DanLCFC93
The Rams’ view
Priorities… Derby fans are distracted by other rivals.
“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
Leicester and Derby are both cities in the East Midlands with football clubs attracting similar levels of support. Leicester is a far larger city population wise, but does have competition from its Rugby team in attracting paying customers. Fans of both sides see Nottingham Forest as their main rivals. Only fifteen miles of ‘Brian Clough Way’ separates Derby and Nottingham, whereas its a much further distance to Leicester. It’s no secret that Derby and Forest both regard each other as their main rivals.
I have been a Derby supporter since 1969 and I think that nowadays there is so much more passion in local Derbies. It was there in the 70’s, but it’s taken far more serious nowadays. It sometimes boils over onto the pitch. Just look at the controversy on the pitch during Derby v Forest games and the lack of it when we play Leicester. Derby were successful in the 70’s. as a young lad I saw them champions twice and despite the lack of our red neighbours playing in the same division the Leicester game as I remember didn’t have the buzz about it. It was more atmospheric than now, but back then, unlike today, Leicester didn’t have the beating of us.
A rivalry can be stemmed by an incident or history much more than geographical location. There has never been any real bitter feelings between Leicester and Derby. You get odd supporters spats, but search the social media and its not ongoing like with other clubs. When we lost to Leicester in the play off final at Wembley that could have been a spark to ignite the flame, however nothing much has changed. A disputed equaliser and the fact that a former Derby player played a role in the winning goal failed to ignite any real long term rivalry. If a play off final fails to do it then what can?
I am a little frustrated that our wins over the Foxes have been few and far between in recent years. I sincerely hope that we can put one over our ‘Friendly Rivals’ this time around.” – @BuckTaylor64
“I hate Leicester pal, don’t worry about it. Really wish most our our fans, and some of your’s, would be less apathetic about our fixtures. It doesn’t have to be as fierce as both our games v Forest but rivalry games make football and it would be a shame to lose the needle completely.” – Badlands, 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.