Derby County @ Pride Park

Derby County @ Pride Park with thanks to Above All Images/Ian Hay

Derby County’s many fans were aggrieved at leaving the Baseball Ground after over 100 years with its memories.

The following text is taken from the book, Football Grounds, and was written by Cassandra Wells.

Players from the Derby County Cricket Club formed Derby County FC in 1884.  Their first pitch was part of the cricket ground, which was in the middle of a racecourse.  Derby quickly tired of rescheduling games that clashed with race meetings and in 1895 they moved to a baseball ground that owner Francis Ley had built after a visit to America.  The Baseball Ground, as the new stadium became known, was very enclosed however and in 1923 Derby received an offer to move to Osmanton Park stadium.  They turned this offer down and in 1924 they bought the Baseball Ground from Francis Ley.  In 1925 the Popular Side was concreted, a year later the Rams went back up to the First Division, which funded further ground developments.  A two-tiered stand was built where the Osmanton Terrace and Catcher’s Corner had stood which opened in 1933.  By the start of WWII all four sides of the Baseball Ground had been rebuilt and covered.  The Rams returned to the First Division in 1969 under the management of Brian Clough; this was the same year the Ley Stand opened and a record 41,826 fans crammed in to see Derby take on Spurs.  Crowd trouble in the late 1970s and 1980s saw fences and bars erected throughout the ground and calls by local residents for the club to move.  In the 1980s the club was struggling under massive debts and they were relegated to the Third Division.  These problems were eased when Robert Maxwell took over as chairman in 1984.  The fences came down in 1989 and after the Taylor report the club put together plans for rebuilding the stadium.  The club were offered another chance to move from the ground, this time to Pride Park.  Yet again they turned the offer down and began working on plans for a 28,000 all-seater Baseball Ground.  However, in 1995, after seeing the success of Middlesbrough’s relocation they moved to Pride Park.  The £16m project took 46 weeks to complete and at the start of the 1997-98 season the Rams began playing at Pride Park, a 33,597 all-seater stadium.

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