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Derby 1 United 4

I missed the Carling Cup away game at Derby earlier in the season as it was shortly after my ankle operation and so was happy with the draw as it was a chance to go back and make up for it. The players must have seen this as a chance to make up for losing in the Carling Cup first leg too, as they seemed absolutely determined to batter the home side from the start.

The drive to Derby was easy and we got in to the ground around an hour before kick off having parked on a grass verge that we later needed to push the car out of with the help of some locals. The way up was mainly spent recalling 70’s songs as the travelling Reds had named this game 70’s day and there were bar scarves also at the ready. Behind the away stand the police were already preparing themselves for an invasion and at one point confiscated a beach ball from a group of young reds who just wanted a kick about- and that pretty much set the tone.

Inside it was clear loads of Reds had got in without tickets- the aisles were packed full of people and some were bragging they had got in with stubs from the Carling Cup match. The home fans were clearly up for it and renditions of “who the fuck are Man United”, “United til you lose”, “support your local team” and all the other usual small time Nationwide songs followed. We knew they were even more up for it when they started with Munich songs followed by chants at Ronaldo such as “You should have died in the tunnel”. I know they like sheep and wear white but that’s no excuse to mistake yourself for Leeds fans.

The United end was meanwhile buzzing with old 70’s songs, namely “we’re on the march of Fergie’s army” and “She wore a scarlet ribbon”. Of course the odd anti-scouse song found its way in there too! On the pitch United were passing through the home side with ease, winning a number of corners and free kicks around the box as Derby tried to scramble everything clear. The break through came when Nani cut in from the left and smashed home ruthlessly. It was not long before a superb Ryan Giggs flick played Ronaldo in but for some reason it was disallowed minutes later after the scoreboard had changed to 2-0 and the players had finished celebrating. It did not stop United though as just before half time a poor freekick from Ronaldo landed at the feet of Darren Gibson who placed it into the corner from the edge of the box with the outside of his boot.

At half time we all felt it was 2-0 and game over. Giggs and Gibson had both been outstanding and it just showed the experience and the youth that the side currently has. Derby may have wanted a goal in the second half but before they could even get the ball it was 3-0- a beautiful corner from Giggs headed home brilliantly from Ronaldo. Game over. The home fans went quiet, apart from the odd Munich song, and the Red Army carried on in full voice.

And then it all turned a bit nasty. I have no idea what provoked it as I was further back but the police and stewards started wading into the reds at the front of the tier. The whole tier of United fans responded angrily at seeing fellow supporters being pushed about and bottles and coins flew over aimed at them, but mostly hitting other United fans. It calmed down on the whole but the stewards must have been worried when the chants of “’we’re going on the pitch” started up. At the same time Derby got a consolation goal back and had a period of pressure that could have swung the game, stopped only by a great save by Foster. United came right down the other end a minute later with beautiful passing football and Danny Wellbeck executed a stunning finish first time to finish the game. 4-1 and all over. The home fans started leaving and we started discussing who we wanted in the draw- and I’m happy with the draw we got.

Outside the ground there was a bit of aggro but the two sets of fans were separated and nothing much came of it. We will go back to forgetting who Derby are, they will no doubt savour their victory against us earlier in the season and put this one to the backs of their minds. United meanwhile keep marching on, on, on.

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