It was way back in 2004 that I first took up the tenure of Chairman of the Heanor Branch for what I thought would be a short spell until someone else came along to take over the role. Some 15 years later I am still here so hopefully doing something right! Since then I have chaired our monthly meetings and AGM’s, welcomed you all to various functions, handed out prizes, attended Executive meetings at Pride Park, hopefully all in the best interests of the members. It is therefore a novelty and a pleasure to be able to voice my thoughts through this media, about branch matters and about Derby County Football Club, the club we all love.
My first thoughts relate to the Heanor Branch and all of the sterling work carried out by the committee members, both past and present. Were it not for the hard work and dedication of these people, who do it all in their own time and for no reward, there would be no Heanor Branch. As a committee, our reward is the satisfaction of seeing our Branch well supported and our transport well filled. Those of you who use the transport for home games will know that we are occasionally able to give back to the passengers by way of a free bus, once funds are sufficient. This will continue to be the case whenever possible as we are not a profit making organisation, all proceeds will continue to come back to the members. An even greater challenge currently is the away transport provided by the branch. If only you knew the problems that arise organising the ticketing and transport, I am sure you would be sympathetic to our committee who continue to try to keep the transport going in very difficult circumstances. I won’t bore you with the details but the away transport has got more and more difficult for us to arrange over the last few seasons, to a point where we sometimes wonder why we bother. However, our duty is to you, the members and I am in awe of the committee members who continue to strive to make things happen and I pass my gratitude to them unreservedly.
Moving on to the functions we organise each year and our fund raising efforts in aid of local or national charities. The last two years have been exceptional in regards to the amount you gave. Last year our record was broken to amass £580.00 which was given to Jeff Stelling Prostate Cancer appeal. We thought that the amount would be hard to match however this year, in aid of Ben’s Den, a charity based in Ilkeston which gives seaside holidays to sick children, we were able to pass over a magnificent sum of £782.00 which was greatly appreciated by the charity. What more can I say to all who contributed in the quiz night and Christmas dinner and raffle other than a huge thanks for your efforts and I pass on the thanks of the charity who were extremely grateful. Our charity for this season will be announced in due course and we are always looking for worthy causes to consider.
Derby County Football Club is the principal reason why we are all here involved with the Branch. We all had our own thoughts, hopes, doubts and aspirations as to how things would transpire when the club took the brave step of appointing a novice manager in the shape of Frank Lampard last summer. We probably all hoped for the best and feared the worst, as is always the case when you follow DCFC.
Now that we are two-thirds through the season and within touching distance of the play-off places I personally believe that we are doing okay. Thanks to previous incumbents, Frank has had severe constraints applied financially and having had to sell our Golden Boot winning striker to fund any incomings. No way have all his decisions been correct but for a rookie manager, working in what is rightly called one the world’s toughest divisions, I think he is doing okay. Who will ever forget the nights at Man Utd, Chelsea and Southampton, where we have had more excitement this season than in the last ten or so seasons put together (other than 2013-2014 when I firmly believe we were good enough for promotion). Of course, I want to get promoted and the sooner the better but realistically, even without promotion, this season will have proved a relative success. Whatever is round the corner ‘we’re all Derby aren’t we?’ Let’s pull together for the rest of the season and get behind the lads “COME ON YOU RAMS”
At long last after much nudging and reminding from our website coordinator, I have managed to give him some thoughts to print. Please note that anyone is very welcome to contribute their thoughts for the website and they will be printed providing the content is clean. Please submit any comments, articles, photos to us via the branch email address on the contacts page. Meanwhile I will try to update my thoughts on a slightly more regular basis, let’s hope come April and May we all have reasons to be cheerful.
Martin Plant – Chairman