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A Utopian Vision

Humour Club84 whilst we paint you a picture. It’s the end of the 2025/2026 season and a lot has changed on and off the pitch at Derby County Football Club. Having been run sustainably and with integrity by David Clowes, the club are playing the first leg of the Championship playoff semi-final against West Brom on a balmy Tuesday night in May. Everyone has clocked off work early and the city is buzzing. You and a few mates have had a couple in town, but you’ve decided to get to the ground early because it's now worth doing.

A few of your mates have season tickets in the safe standing section in the Southeast Curve of the Jim Smith Stand. You’re on the waiting list but you’ll have to make do with what was previously just the South Stand. That said, the noise behind the goal is now fantastic, sparked by the group of ultras directly to the right. The new turnstiles are at the end of the Gordon Guthrie stand and there is a queue already at 19:00 but it’s moving quickly.

The back of the old South Stand has had an upgrade. There is now an open plan set up with the concourse leading out onto a covered area. The turnstiles have been removed so people are able to spread themselves out a little. There are kiosks of local businesses selling food and craft beer and they’re doing a great trade. The noise begins to build and starts bouncing off the walls. By the time you get to 19:30 you’ve had another pint and a freshly made pie and you want to soak up more of the atmosphere. As you walk up the stairs you are instantly hit by the noise from the curve.

There are around 2,000 supporters in this section. Their season tickets are £25 dearer. A chunk of that money goes to fund affordable tickets for families and seniors alike. Another pot of money goes to mental health charities in Derby and Derbyshire. The last section of that money goes to the creation of spectacular banners, flags and tifos. These have been designed by creatives from within the Derby County community. All the banners are now reusable and, once they have had their initial display in the Curve, they make their way around the ground. Tonight, there is a 17m by 12m flag held aloft Steve Bloomer. Underneath it reads “He’s Always Watching”.

To accompany this banner are hundreds of smaller flags that have been privately purchased by individual fans at a fraction more than cost. The Curve is filled with them but so is the entire ground and banners made for matches earlier in the season are being held up elsewhere. West Brom have 2,800 excellent seats in what was the East Stand, now the Arthur Cox Stand. They have been charged £20 after agreeing to reciprocate the away day deal offered by Derby.

As the players emerge from the tunnel, they are greeted by a wall of noise from the Southeast Curve and the South Stand, now the Jim Smith Stand. Whilst it is easy to get excited by these games, the Curve has orchestrated the atmosphere when the match felt less spicy for midweek fixtures, with tiny away followings, in the bleak midwinter. The project has allowed families and older people to support their club despite a cost-of-living crisis, raised money for vulnerable people locally, facilitated a spectacular celebration of our history, and protected the passionate, vocal support of which Derby County are rightfully proud.

We know there would be obstacles to this utopian vision. We also know it’s completely possible and worth fighting for.


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