A form of Derby County Supporters Club was in-being pre-World War 2, but it was disbanded shortly after the start of hostilities. A Derby County Supporters Association, meeting at the Baseball Hotel, was in-being during the 1950s – 1960s. Soon after Stuart Webb became the Secretary of Derby County FC. In the early 1970s he started the official Derby County Supporters Club, as part of the club. Branches were formed in Derbyshire and fringe counties, plus London. The coordinator was nominated by Derby County and a proportion of members subscriptions went to Derby County FC.
In 1988 the name was changed to Derby County Fan Club, but this was not popular and it changed to Derby County Members Club in 1989. This too was not liked and so we reverted to Derby County Supporters Club and have remained so since 1990.
We continued to run as part of Derby County FC until 1995 when Keith Loring, the Chief Executive, allowed us to elect our own officials and to be free from Derby County FC control becoming an independent organisation. However, we have continued to have a close relationship with the Club and our main aim remains the same as our forbearers “we have a remit to help people to support Derby County Football Club.”
Despite Derby County’s league positions over previous seasons, we have over 3,500 fully paid up members this season. There are 17 Supporters’ Club branches on the mainland UK, 14 0f which are based in Derbyshire and the surrounding counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire; two large branches represent London and the West Country (south and west of Birmingham). There are two further branches based locally, the Disabled Branch for disabled supporters and their families and carers, and the National & International Branch covering areas of the UK not served by the established branches, as well as Derby County supporters throughout the world.
With our aim of helping people to support Derby County, several branches run coaches to both home (some running more than one) and away matches. Many inter-branch social activities, including the “Donning ton Trophy Sports Quiz” (which began in the 1970’s), forums at both Pride Park and at the various branches, take place each season. Every year the Derby City Branch runs their own charity auction, alongside that of BBC Radio Derby, to provide the Supporters’ Club branches with the opportunity to raise money for the chosen local charities of that year. The past two years alone between £2,000-£3,000 has been raised on both occasions. Something that the Derby City Branch, in particular, and all the Supporters’ Clubs are proud.
Another event in which we take pride is the Annual Awards Night. This has taken place since Stuart Webb’s time, towards the end of the football season, when the Player and Supporter of the Year trophies are presented. Until Pride Park Stadium was built, these were held in various venues in Derby – a memorable one being at the end of the 1974/75 Season when players, management and Supporters Clubs Members were present at the actual moment Derby County were confirmed as Champions of the then First Division. Whilst this is an event run by ourselves since 1995, Derby County staff are very helpful with the arrangements, and the Chairman, Directors, Management and Players are invited to attend as our guests. Why are we proud? We have managed to run a highly successful and well attended evening by all parties concerned, regardless of Derby Country’s league position!
Where does the Executive Committee fit into this? The Executive Committee consists of two members from each mainland branch (non-mainland interests represented by National & International Branch), plus four officers elected from within the Executive Committee.
Currently the four officers are:
Hemsworth - Chairman
Barry Smith - Vice Chairman
Martyn Kellett - Secretary
Harry Bourchier - Treasurer
For want of better words, these officers oversee the running of the branches and are the liaison between the football club, police, press, etc and the Supporters’ Club branches.
Since we became independent in 1995, the Executive Committee has continued to liaise with Derby County. We regularly meet with Derby County Staff to discuss various issues raised not only by Supporters’ Club members, but supporters in general. We have such a large and varied number of supporters as members (we do not restrict our membership to season ticket holders), Derby County has considered us as having a general “window” on the views of all fans of the club. As a result of these meetings, very occasionally both parties have to agree to disagree, however as an organisation we find meetings useful and hope that Derby County feel the same way. We strive to continue to liaise with the football club on a regular basis in order to benefit all parties concerned, and at this point would like to say that we are also independent of and do not necessarily share the same views as other “supporters groups”.