As Chris Martin drove home Derby’s 3rd following goals from Jeff Hendrick and Cyrus Christie on Saturday, it finally became clear that Derby County were going to win a game of football. About time some would say. The winless run from Boxing Day until now had seen monumental changes across the club from a swap of manager to a shift in atmosphere around the team, creating a sense of panic, nerves and upheaval not just in the crowds at the Ipro but even from the tea ladies at Moor Farm, all the way up to millionaire owner Mel Morris.
This atmosphere seemed to have subdued slightly as three points finally shot Derby’s way after the 3-1 victory away at Brentford, being replaced with a gigantic sense of relief and the intense euphoria of a job well done. The 1,664 travelling Rams on the terrace behind the goal at Griffin Park were the first in a long time to witness such a win and all will testify that the passion that has been so widely questioned in recent weeks is certainly still burning bright within the players and coaching staff. A quick look at the celebrations after the 2nd and 3rd goals – and particularly Darren Wassall’s celebrations after the final whistle – are a clear indicator of the passion these players and staff do have for the club, despite it appearing lacking at times over recent weeks. As Martin ran off to celebrate his first goal from open play since October 24th, Nick Blackman launched himself into the crowd to celebrate with the Derby fans and Wassall’s screaming and fist pumping come the final whistle were a joy to behold.
It is easy to immediately label this win as a turning point and is something perhaps best avoided as the search for consistency goes on. However, the confidence and fight that the players will take from this cannot be underestimated. They desperately needed a win from anywhere, a lucky deflection off of Chris Martin’s fairly large backside would have done it, but to fight back from a goal down and score three excellent goals in 10 minutes will do wonders for this team. It has shown them and us that they can fight and battle for a win, even if the odds are against them. It’s shown that if they continuously batter a team and attack with confidence, then if they keep their heads up then they can still win. Alan Judge’s goal for Brentford was an excellent finish but was hugely against the run of play, but Derby regained control and kept going – not a without the continued support of the travelling Rams fans, something that has also been lacking in recent months.
Whilst it’s imperative not to rest on our laurels after this victory, something repeatedly mentioned by players and staff in interviews, it is important for the players to remember the fight and determination they put into that victory. If they’re ever in need of a lift, they only need to think of that last 10 minutes at Griffin Park and take confidence from that, how different the MK Dons and Preston games would’ve been if they’d shown the belief and determination they showed at Brentford. They need to take their confidence and their passion onto Wednesday night and not let Blackburn intimidate them, as Cyrus Christie said in his post match interview, this victory means nothing if we don’t follow it up with a victory over Blackburn. This can only be the aforementioned turning point in the season if the players propel themselves from this victory, to use the old footballing cliché ‘to use the victory as a springboard for the rest of the season’.
We should stick by the team over the next few weeks, they’ve gone through a lot in the past few months (as have we as fans) and they really need our support to put the winter period behind them and gather some momentum for the remaining cluster of games. Brentford can be our Battle of Britain, a turning point for the future, but only if we grasp the nettle and make it our turning point. Let’s hope the players are brave enough to do so.