Becoming ‘the Rams’

The swaledale ram comes from the Duke of Devonshire’s estate at Chatsworth and after a recent promotion for good behaviour , Lance Corporal Derby XXX1 is based at the Regimental Head Quarters in Lichfield and has two full time handlers, Ram Major and Ram Orderly who come from the Regiment’s Drums Platoon and look after him at all times.

Over the years, Derby County Football Club have been known by a number of different nicknames. ‘County’, was an early example, eventually fading out of use due to confusion with other clubs such as Notts and Stockport. Throughout the late nineteenth-century, Derby were also commonly known as ‘the Peakites’, a reference to the lofty terrain of the Peak District in northern Derbyshire. However, no name has been quite so ubiquitous as that of ‘the Rams’ – the nickname which adorns the club to this day and which is well-known to supporters of clubs up and down the country. But where does this name come from?

Cover of “The Derby Ram” (1865), a satirical publication dedicated to local politics. The Ram has long been a symbol of the town of Derby.

There are several theories as to where the nickname of ‘The Rams’ comes from ranging from sheep farming, an old folk song or from a military background. It is the latter that is the correct one and this dates back to the army based in India in 1858 when a ram was adopted as the mascot for the regiment, the 95th Derbyshire Regiment, which is now called the Mercian Regiment.

The Lichfield Mercury newspaper on 5th February 1886 reports on a football match between the Lichfield Barrack Swifts and the Derby Rams (Military Team) that took place at Whittington Heath and this is the first time The Rams was seen in a footballing context and later adopted by Derby County.

The swaledale ram comes from the Duke of Devonshire’s estate at Chatsworth and after a recent promotion for good behaviour , Lance Corporal Derby XXX1 is based at the Regimental Head Quarters in Lichfield and has two full time handlers, Ram Major and Ram Orderly who come from the Regiment’s Drums Platoon and look after him at all times.

He has his own army number, is paid £3.75 per day, has own rations and allowed annual holiday at Chatsworth and is a regular visitor to Pride Park Stadium. 

Private Derby XXX of the Mercian Regiment, pictured here with his comrades at Regimental Headquarters in 2015

The football club did not have any logo on the shirts until a brief stint in the 1920’s, where a ram’s head appeared. The ram was part of the club badge that was introduced after the FA Cup Final victory in 1946 and has remained ever since and this was converted to a full body, modern looking drawing at the start of the 1971-72 season. 

He has his own army number, is paid £3.75 per day, has own rations and allowed annual holiday at Chatsworth and is a regular visitor to Pride Park Stadium. 

The football club did not have any logo on the shirts until a brief stint in the 1920’s, where a ram’s head appeared. The ram was part of the club badge that was introduced after the FA Cup Final victory in 1946 and has remained ever since and this was converted to a full body, modern looking drawing at the start of the 1971-72 season.