I thought running the Robin Hood Half Marathon would be the most painful activity I would have to endure on Sunday. Sadly after hobbling 13.2 miles around the streets of Nottingham, I then had to suffer 90 minutes of gut wrenching agony at the City Ground.
For a lot of people, that would be where the humiliation, bar some work place banter, would end. However, three years ago, I married into a family of the enemy, and Derby games haven’t been the same since.
Being from Selston originally, other than the odd stray sheep that had wandered over the border, there weren’t many Derby fans whom had I regular contact with in my youth.
The ones I did know were usually met with contempt and disdain on the back of our historical rivalry; not for one minute did I ever think I would end up living within spitting distance of Pride Park and married to ‘one of them lot’.
I am ashamed to say that in the early days of our relationship, I was dragged along to an FA Cup game at Pride Park with my wife and some of her family.
To my surprise, it wasn’t a sell out and we got cheap tickets, something I never imagined happening in such a hotbed of a footballing town.
I don’t know whether it was some sort of trick to test my loyalty, but I’ve never been invited to another Derby game with them since. It may have had something to do with me laughing out loud as Preston North End, a team struggling in the Division below the Rams at the time, scored their fourth to complete a glorious victory.
It will give you a flavour of how abused I am if I explain that I have a three year old niece that calls me ‘Uncle Red Dog’ and a six year old niece who frequently just refers to me as ‘Loser’. They ingrain Forest hatred into the family from an early age.
The biggest instigator of the banter is my future brother-in-Law, Greg. Greg epitomises a typical Derby fan. He sees Derby as a bigger club than our own double European Cup Winners, citing larger home attendances as the main reason behind this logic, forgetting this is like Primark claiming to be better than Harrods because their shops are busier.
He likens Nigel Clough to the second coming of Brian after a rare victory, forgetting that most of the time, he wants him sacked and is sick of seeing his club filled with Nigel’s Non-League cloggers.
On Sunday, whilst I was at the City Ground, the family gathered in front of the TV (remember, Derby fans generally don’t do away games) at the Mother-in-Law’s house dreaming of a victory in their Cup Final. In the first half, I received several texts of banter bordering on abuse, including one from my wife labelling Dexter Blackstock a pansie! It reached fever pitch when Derby took the lead and then held on for the win.
I can’t even claim a moral victory that the sending off of Blackstock played a critical part in the defeat. The fact of the matter is there would still have been a ‘nil’ next to Forest’s name after ninety minutes even if we’d kept eleven men on the pitch.
All I can hope now is that Sean O’Driscoll turns things around in time for the rematch at Pride Park in January to give me some bragging rights. In the meantime, I’ll put up with being the butt of jokes at family gatherings.