July update and visit to the stores, 25/07/2019

Yesterday we ventured over to our stores on the outskirts of the city centre for a spot of reorganising. It remains a mystery why we felt inclined to visit our corrugated-steel-clad storage facility on the hottest day of the year but a chance to take another look at some of the fascinating objects relating to the club’s history was not to be missed. Despite feeling like sardines in a tin we soldiered on, and thankfully, the visit gave us the opportunity to think about ideas for our upcoming displays.

What’s to come…

The remainder of 2019 will prove to be a busy time for The Derby County Collection, with a number of events coming up in the next few months (click here for further details). Perhaps the most exciting of these is a collaboration with local sixth form centre, Horizons. Horizons are a post-16 study centre for young adults with learning difficulties and additional needs. Their mission is to help students make the transition from education into the workplace, encouraging them to become independent and unlock their full potential. The school places a strong emphasis on students contributing positively to their local community; this has great resonance with us as we are trying to achieve the same thing using our collection. Given the similarities, the moment they asked us to work with them to create a temporary exhibition with objects from the collection, we jumped at the opportunity.

One thing that we were particularly excited about was Horizon’s location within the city. Located at Derby’s historic, Grade II-listed Guildhall, it was the proverbial cherry-on-top to find out that we would be exhibiting our collection in one of Derby’s most historic buildings. We were also keenly aware that just a stone’s throw away at The Old Bell Hotel on Sadler Gate, Derby County Football Club were officially conceived on that fateful day in 1884. Fast forward some 135 years later and its streets and ale houses continue to be filled with the same collective joy and sorrow that have greeted every other Saturday since. The people of Derby have learned that while the predictable spectrum of footballing emotions have stood the test of time, its streets and ale houses have not.

Gathering ideas

While thinking about our exhibition at Horizons, it was essential to discuss what objects we would like to display and the stories we would like to tell. This can be difficult given that the collection covers the entire history of the club and consists of a variety of different objects; including photos, club documents, programmes, shirts, trophies and even bits of the old Baseball Ground.

We feel that two subjects are particularly topical at the minute: Derby’s 68/69 Division Two success and the club’s vibrant shirt history and are toying with the idea of incorporating these themes into the eventual display at Horizons.

50th Anniversary of the 1968/69 Second Division Title

With the 50th anniversary of Brian Clough’s maiden trophy win, the Division Two title in 1969, the exhibition presents the perfect chance to follow on from the Access All Eras anniversary celebration with another display. After all, reliving past glory might help us in some way compensate for the Wembley heartache and, perhaps more importantly, remind us that the second-tier of English football isn’t completely insurmountable.

Fan scrapbook from the 1968/69 season

One of the more unique finds from our visit to the stores was this fan scrapbook from the 1968/69 season. In the days before podcasts, blogging and the all-encompassing realm of Twitter, fans had to rely on more traditional methods of recording the Rams’ campaign for future reference. The scrapbook contains a number of articles reporting on matches, transfers and the ins and outs of the club over the season. These articles are complimented by a plethora of fantastic contemporary images of the squad, their gung-ho young manager and his calculated assistant from the pages of the Derby Telegraph.

All images and news articles have been painstakingly cut from local newspapers and pasted into the scrapbook over the course of the campaign – a true labour of love that surpasses the immediacy of Twitter and modern social platforms. Testament to this dedication, there are a number of other scrapbooks donated by the same avid Rams fan, some even dating back to the heady days of the late-1940s.

The Rams’ Kit History

Football shirts are as popular as ever. The past few years have seen the release of a number of publications regarding football attire, some concerning specific clubs while others have constituted a general appreciation of football fashion and design. Derby’s crest and kit history was recently chronicled in the The Colours of The Rams, a book co-written by DCFC Collection’s Andy Ellis, alongside Phil Lowe and Jason Shardlow.

Delving deeper into the world of football shirts coincides nicely with the release of Derby’s new kits for the 2019/20 season and the extension of their partnership with Umbro to the end of the 2023/24 season. In my view, Umbro have played a blinder this season, fusing modern design with familiar elements of classic shirts from the 1990s. It’s also particularly pleasing that they’ve opted to ditch the recent trend towards neon-coloured change strips.

Some of our shirts from Access All Eras at Derby QUAD earlier this year

We have already exhibited some of the club’s shirts and 68/69 memorabilia during our display at QUAD for the Access All Eras event in May this year. For the exhibition at Horizons we would like to expand on this display, incorporating a wider pool of objects from the collection with an interesting narrative. We have also approached the students at Horizons about the possibility of them creating a piece of artwork for the exhibition. It is hoped that we can create something special for this event while also helping students gain valuable experience in exhibition design, installation and project management.

The dates for this exhibition are yet to be confirmed but it will be opening in mid-to-late-September, after the season commences and the students return from summer break. Keep your eyes peeled for further information on our website and Twitter feed and we look forward to seeing you at the event.

Help us!

If you are interesting in sponsoring this event or helping out with the costs of the exhibition and sustained conservation of our artefacts, please contact us at andy.ellis@derbycountycollection.co.uk or donate via PayPal using the link in the sidebar.

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