Breakfast with Mel

Gym 3We first went to Moor Farm last year in the summer; I was approached by Mel to bring a group of members from the dcfcfans forum down for a tour and open session to clear the air after libellous posts were made on the forum.

I was given a list of members, a couple of which were unable to attend for various reasons, however, I was free to select replacements. To be honest I can only remember the reasons behind one replacement as he posted a Rupert Murdoch comparison which, given the timing, gave us a squeaky bum and was issued with a warning (which we removed after the meeting).

The day was a great success, it allowed us to clear the air of what is and isn’t acceptable to post on the forum. It turns out you can call Mel a **** all you like, just leave anything out that can be seen as libelous and damaging to the club or it’s players, fair enough right?

It seemed to go down well with members at the time and lifted the mood after recent events on the forum. I was also given an open invite to return in the future, although I didn’t want to abuse this invitation and go down each month. I had no other contact since that first meeting apart from thanking him for his words on Radio Derby about the forum.

Fast forward to roughly 2 weeks ago and Mel contacted me to remind me of the open invite. We agreed the date and I was allowed to pick 9 members. All Mel asked was for 3 positive, 3 neutral and 3 critical members for a balanced debate. Only three of the original attendees that went last year went to the second meeting, myself, Boycie and Alpha, with the other six members having never met before or had any online dating experiences with. They were all simply regular members that have contributed to the forum and I felt would be able to hold a discussion with Mel on the day.

After choosing the members and creating a range of views Mel decided he would make things even more entertaining by sacking Clement so we ended up with some really critical members now that didn’t hold back on the day.

I would also like to quash any myth that you have to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, like my posts on the forum, donate or feed me grapes whilst fanning my ego for an invite. It’s also not true that if I don’t like your posts on the forum or have any disagreements you wouldn’t be chosen. I had loads of issues with one member who attended, as he liked to call other members ***** on a regular basis. I may have agreed with him at the time but it didn’t fit in with the forum I wanted to create and he was banned temporary at one point.


Now…Moor Farm itself, we were there for 3 hours on a Saturday and left at 12.30pm. Which if you stop and think, a chairman giving fans 3 hours of his time on a match day and with a new manager to oversee? Can you see Fawaz doing that?

Anyway, having been down to Moor Farm before, I have seen most of it and not much has changed since my last visit. The War room is still there and it really is called the War Room on the door sign.

They are in the process of replacing the photos on the corridor walls with 42″ TV screens replaying Derby County at their best, as a constant reminder for the players. There hasn’t been much to choose from lately so Thorne’s goal against Manchester United featured heavily.

We went into the crocked room where Hughes and Forsyth were having their knees rubbed with some yellow stuff. Young Will has a very firm handshake which I wasn’t expecting.  He’s been kicking a ball for around a month now apparently and now doing a little running but straight line stuff only, no turns.  Forsyth didn’t say much but I think the occasion got to him and he was a little star-struck.

We were taken into the analysis room where Rory Delap and a colleague of his showed us the technology they use to analyse games, it’s basically the Monday Night Football screen with every camera angle you can imagine.  I heard that they could basically stick a camera on any player’s head so when the keeper says he couldn’t see it….”erm you could, as we can see it here on the replay”.

We finally sat down to breakfast in the canteen, which is now laid out differently from when we last visited with long tables and more seating.  The tea lady even joined us towards the end to talk to us. She was asked, without prior prompting, what the mood was like around the place and seemed really genuine when saying it’s been really upbeat this week. She told us how she knows when to and not to approach the players and how she’s a bit of a mother figure around the place.  She also mentioned how she takes pride in watching the players grow up and has poured tea for Lee Grant since he was 8 or 9.

When Mel was asked about the Moor Farm planning applications being rejected by Erewash Council, I can’t quite remember exactly what he said apart from that if they can’t get the plans approved and they don’t feel like they can build Moor Farm into what they want then they will look at moving. It’s clear the academy is really important to Mel and his legacy, something he really wants to see up there with the best in the country.

Zanzala and Lowe from the Under 21 team were mentioned as the next big things. Zanzala is a beast apparently and I’m not sure how he hasn’t been involved with the first team squad yet.

Not much more to say about the place as there wasn’t a tour this time.  Plenty of youth players were walking around while we were there as there was a game on and one had some weird cyborg thing on his leg.  Mel also agreed something had to be done about the dodgy haircuts with the younger players.

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Daveo (founder and editor of the dcfcfans forum)