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Derby County Season Review 06/07

When you're waiting for the next momentous event in Derby County's Premier League season, or the FA Cup (too briefly, in terms of the Rams' participation), this is a book worth having to hand. Why? Well, to remind yourself of where Derby were last season, how the club moved up, gradually, to begin with, revealing all too few signs of the magic to come.

The arrival of manager Billy Davies by helicopter in June 2006 preceded the talk of challenge and this book charts the passion and enthusiasm, the staff changes and the £1 million Howard signing that followed.

It focuses on the importance given to the captain's armband. Matt Oakley came in on a free transfer, and by August, the Rams held George Burley's Saints, Oakley's former club, to a 2-2 draw.

This book charts every match of the promotion season of 2006/07: the defeat at Colchester in August that left Derby 19th in the Championship and the defeat at Sunderland, then 23rd, in September, after a minute's applause for the late Lionel Pickering.

But Davies had strengthened the club with the additions of Dean Leacock, Camara and Steven Bywater and the Premiership beckoned - the 6-0 drubbing by Liverpool was still a season away.

Read the straight-forward match reports, remember November, the six straight wins leading to fourth place. The scattering of quotes from Billy Davies pulls it together beautifully, and I'm sure he will do just as well as Derby face Chelsea at home at the end of November, then Sunderland and Manchester United away in December.

Follow the joy of January's 100% record, David Jones joining the club, moving up to two points a game at the top, the fear of February, the renewed forward push in March - I was there at Carrow Road for Jones' brace - before Birmingham and the tough defeats by Ipswich and Coventry.

OK, maybe the prose doesn't hit the heights of emotion for the Southampton play-off, and the West Bromwich Albion final, but it triggers the memories, and one too many shots warming your goalkeeper's fingers just brings a wry smile when your club won promotion. Onward and upward. Come on you Rams.

From the cover....

In 2005/06 Derby County were close to financial meltdown and were almost relegated to League One. In 2006-07 they became financially stable and returned to English football's top table after winning a promotion to the Premiership.

That's quite a 12-month turnaround, even for this club's long and distinguished - and often turbulent - history. Even the most ardent of Rams follower couldn't have expected a year like it, not least after a summer of change that had seen a new board installed, a new manager appointed, new coaching staff arrive and a wave of new players.

But when Billy Davies took over the Pride Park hot seat in June there was a feeling that the new directors had got the right man for the job. Davies, after all, had just taken unfancied Preston North End to the Play-offs in each of the previous two seasons.

Upon arrival Davies spoke of a three-year plan and asked the Derby supporters to be patient while he shaped the club as he desired. It would, he said, take a few transfer windows for him to mould his squad and bring in the players he wanted.

The signing of Steve Howard was an immediate signal of intent that Derby weren't just there to make up the numbers, a message that the club was to be reckoned with in the transfer market, and that backing continued with several other arrivals before the close of the first window.

By the time the second window opened in January, the Rams were right up with the chasing pack, and Davies invested further in his squad - there was a chance of promotion, and Derby were going for it.

Davies predicted plenty of twists and turns, and he was right, as a six-point lead at the top was eroded and the Rams ultimately finished third in the Coca-Cola Championship. That in itself was a remarkable achievement, considerably ahead of schedule in the three-year plan.

The most dramatic of Play-off semi-finals against Southampton followed, and then it was Wembley...

This book, published by Breedon Books, is full of facts comments and full colour photographs of each and every game from last season - when the Rams ended their five-year exile from the Premier League by winning promotion from the League Championship.