West Ham United v Derby County

We're not saying Preview Percy is old but he does keep moaning about those 'reckless youngsters' on "Last of the Summer Wine". Before he disappeared down to the bookies with his Winter Fuel payment he took a look at this week's match against Derby County and sent us his thoughts. We didn't see why we should be the only ones to suffer....

Next we entertain Derby County at the Boleyn for a Saturday kick-off at 5.20pm. Well one out of two ain’t bad. Those coming from central London might use the extra time to travel to the Boleyn with the usual engineering works taking place. There’s no Hammersmith & City line to Upton Park though at least our bit of the District Line will be open.

Derby come to E13 as something of an enigma. Their season started with them heading off like a train. (That’s a train from some other country where they work properly at weekends obviously). They won their first four and were level with Southampton at the top. Since then injuries have taken their toll on a squad arguably lacking quality in depth and their form has been mixed to say the least. They’ve won but one of their last 8, that win coming at the end of October courtesy of a 3-2 win at home to Pompey. They’ve lost their last three at home to Hull (0-2), away at Peterborough (3-2) and at home to Cardiff (0-3). On the road their last five have produced just the one win – 2-1 at Forest back in September which gives them custody of the Brian Clough Trophy until next February at least. Their only other point on their travels since then came in the 1-1 draw at Reading in mid-October.

The manager is, of course Nigel Clough. Clough Junior’s managerial apprenticeship was served at Burton Albion where he spent eleven years starting in the Southern League and leaving a few months before Albion clinched promotion to the Football League in 2009. That’s some time at any level of football let alone non-league, where “Manager Of The Month” can often be a job title rather than an award. Especially when you consider that he was actually player manager for eight of those eleven years – he continued to be registered as a player and turned out in a local cup match at the age of 42. Despite the impending elevation to League status, the lure of the club his Dad was managing when he was a nipper proved too great. He’ll celebrate his second anniversary in charge in January which came as a bit of a surprise to me – it seems like he’s been there for so much longer.

First choice ‘keeper is Frank Fielding. Fielding started his career at Blackburn but spent his four years at the club playing elsewhere. Spells at Wycombe, Northampton and Rochdale were all reasonably successful, though a one month emergency loan at Leeds saw him leave without making a first team appearance. A couple of loan spells at Pride Park last term ended up with the deal being made permanent, the fee being a reported £400,000. His arrival at Derby has hastened the demise of ex-Hammer and, frankly, ever-so-slightly bonkers, art patron Stephen Bywater, who wasn’t given a squad number at the start of the season and is currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. Fielding, meanwhile, made the England squad back in September when Rob Green was injured.

The skipper is defender Shaun Barker. Barker's been at Pride Park for two years now, having left Blackpool just before they got promoted to the top flight. Barker was deemed to be so important to Derby's Championship survival that he played nearly all of last season with a knee problem that required surgery during the close season. He returned to the first team in last week's defeat to Hull, coming on for the last 20 minutes or so.

Also available in defence, though he has spent much of his career in midfield, is the familiar figure of Kevin “Zinadine” Kilbane. Kilbane is currently on a six month loan from Hull so he wasn't eligible for last week's match. Although in club terms he might be regarded as the archetypal “journeyman” it shouldn't be forgotten that he has over 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland international side, at one stage jointly holding the record with Shay Given and Robbie Keane. However, the highlight of his career was presenting a slightly younger Percy with a medal at the end of a charity football tournament a few years ago. Quite an honour for the 34 year-old I suspect. A spare-time sports journalism degree and a spot of punditry for RTE in last year's World Cup suggests that the player has a fair idea of what he's going to do when his career ends.

In midfield they have Polish U21 cap Tomasz Cywka. Cywka, who also plays up front, came in for some stick from the boss back in February when his mistake led to a goal in a defeat to Portsmouth. Clough said of the player: “he's not a very bright footballer – he can go back to Wigan or wherever he came from – I'm not really bothered until he learns the game”. Clough Junior clearly learnt some of his managerial skills at the hands of his Dad (though I've yet to hear of him decking errant supporters). Cywka's first match this season, the away win at Forest, lasted all of a minute as Fielding was red carded for denial of goalscoring opportunity, Cywka becoming the sacrificial lamb to enable a sub 'keeper to come on.

Cywka's presence in the team can be attributed in part to the absence of strikers Steve Davies, Nathan Tyson and, now, Theo Robinson through injury. The fractured skull sustained by Davies in the 1-1 home draw with Southampton has left him with 10 metal plates in his head, something that must be bloody annoying at airports. His injury record in recent years includes fractured eye-sockets and cheekbones, a broken foot, cruciate knee ligament damage, a hernia and hamstring problems. Oh and an infected big toe. No wonder he hasn't won a snooker tournament in years.

First choice upfront has been Jamie Ward. Ward signed from Sheffield United having supplied us with one of our biggest laughs in years by getting himself sent off in the play-off final that they lost to Burnley a few years ago, in what may be the only recorded instance of the Preview Percy column ever agreeing with the anything loathsome Mike Dean has ever done. Ward managed to pick up two yellow cards for deliberate handball in four minutes. Still his record for the other 16 minutes he was on the pitch as a sub was unblemished. Ward joined Sheffield United in 2009 having turned down Barnsley, allegedly because his girlfriend told him to. He joined Derby on loan for the last few months of last season as Sheffield United were relegated, through no fault of their own, obviously. He signed a permanent deal in the close season and gained his first cap for Northern Ireland against the Faroe Islands in August.

The beleaguered forward line was been strengthened this week by the signing of Tamas Priskin on loan from Ipswich. Priskin is out of favour at Portman Road and has made only one first team appearance this season for the Tractor Boys.

And so what news of the Irons in the week when, after thirty years of trying, Barcelona finally became as good as us. There is better news on the injury front as Matt Taylor is said to be fit for a return after a spell on the sidelines. Collison may be the one to miss out should Taylor be fit to start. Joey O is available after his sub appearance last weekend and Carlton Cole's impact as substitute in the last two matches may also see him on from the start, as long as his allegedly dodgy knees can handle it. This move would, logically, see a return to the bench for John Carew, which would at least give the referees a break from the oh-so-confusing task of awarding free-kicks the wrong way every time he gets fouled.

Demel? Well whilst all the noise from Chadwell Heath last week seemed to indicate that he might be available for selection at Coventry, in the end he didn't even make the bench. Reports from the midweek Development Squad defeat to Ipswich suggested that he didn't have the best of games so who knows if/when he'll be in line for a game with the bigger boys.

Last week's match at Coventry was the ultimate in games of two halves. The change in system so that we played with two proper strikers rather than leaving one up on his own at the mercy of four defenders and a referee made all the difference which rather begs the question: why we didn't play the first half that way as well?

Talking of last week, by the way, there was some other good news. If you were amongst the 6,500 or so who filled an end at the Ricoh you may notice a bit of a bonus on your match ticket. Assuming you kept the ticket you will be entitled to “guaranteed discounts off your next holiday”. You might have to get a move on though as the offer is valid only at Thomas Cook shops.

This week of course we are at home where, under normal circumstances, expectations would be higher than they are away from the Boleyn. This season of course is all backside about face (I would have said “arse” but that word has been banned here in the Avram Grant Home for the Bewildered ever since Sepp Blatter got "elected" FIFA president). Six wins on the road is pretty good for us and had we been able to convert some of the home draws and defeats we've suffered this season we'd be level with or even above Southampton. The home form needs to improve, obviously, and what better chance than to pick on a team short on form and ravaged by injuries. Of course that's just the usual recipe for a typical West Ham surprise result.

Nevertheless I'll go for a win for this one. With all the usual caveats regarding the notorious inaccuracy of this old fool's predictions I'll go for a 3-1 this week – and I have a slight suspicion that Bristol City might just surprise Southampton as well if you're looking for two bets to avoid!

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: Our last meeting at the Boleyn was back in 2007/08. Cole and Zamora gave us a 2-1 win, ex-Hammer Tyrone Mears scoring for the visitors. Earlier in the season we prevailed 5-0 up at Pride Park with goals from Bowyer (2), Etherington, Solano and an own goal that Jonathan Spector tried to claim. Derby were relegated with a record low points tally. We ended up 10th.

Danger man: Tamas Priskin – to be honest I was struggling to find a danger man this week given that both their top scorers are out injured. Priskin ought to be trying to make a point with a view to sorting out a permanent deal so he gets this week’s accolade.

Referee: Colin Webster 12 years as a ref on the league list he is another of the "first time in charge at the Boleyn" chappies. Took charge of Derby's 3-0 win over Millwall earlier in the season. Hopefully he'll have stopped laughing by Saturday night.

Daft fact of the week: The BBC's website has a page about Derbyshire on which the opening paragraph reads: Derbyshire is one of the most interesting counties in England. Don't believe us? Take a look at the facts below.

I did. It isn't.

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner


The only game between the two clubs that I can trace took place in May 1925, when the team were on an end of season tour in Holland. The Hammers lost 3-2 to the Rams in the Ajax Stadium in Amsterdam.


Martin Allen (h, League Cup) 1989-90
Julian Dicks (a) 1992-93
John Hartson (h) 1997-98

They Played For Both

Derek Hales; Stephen Bywater; James Tomkins; Vince Blore; Peter Shilton; Igor Stimac; Dave Swindlehurst; Paulo Wanchope.

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

* Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the highlighted author/s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of KUMB.com.

More Opinion