Another year and well deserved!

22/01/2013 08:52


I have to admit when I first met Shaun Derry at a family day a couple of years ago I wasn't sure why we signed him; that's why I'm a fan and Neil Warnock knew what he was getting when he signed him. To be fair to him he looks a lot older than he actually is; that's a compliment by the way.

  I thought Derry might follow Warnock to Leeds after Mark Hughes made it clear that he wasn't in his plans; but the hard tackling midfielder has been in the game long enough to know that things can change in football and quickly!

Below is a section taken from an article from The Telegraph and shows what Derry has been through in his career;

 “I’ve played in every league in English football so being at this level means the absolute world to me,’’ reflected Derry yesterday, after training at Harlington. “I’ve been at Notts County, getting up at 5.30, travelling down to Plymouth on the day of the game, having beans on toast on the bus. We drew 1-1 and came back that night. It was the longest day ever. I thought that was what football was about.

“I loved League One and League Two, and the togetherness of the boys. There isn’t the togetherness here, not just here at QPR, but in the Premier League like there is in the lower leagues. We’re very fortunate we are paid good money. We can spend £150 on a night out.

“Back at Notts County, I’d have £20 which would give me a good night out and get me home at the end of it with a bag of chips. There would be 15 of us County lads on a Saturday night, each with £20 in our pockets. It was such a great atmosphere and we took that out on to the field, and got promoted with Sam Allardyce.”

That hunger continued to shape Derry’s career at Sheffield United, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Palace again and now QPR. That hunger derives from his formative years growing up in Nottingham. “We weren’t on the breadline but I saw the sacrifices my family made. My dad was a lorry driver, up and down the motorway, but finding time to take me to football. We never went abroad. We’d always holiday in Blackpool, Wales or Yorkshire. I’ve not forgotten. We go on holiday to Lake Como now. We’re talking fantastic holidays. I never had those as a kid.

“My son’s 5½ and at the academy at Palace. He made his first training session after Christmas and he didn’t try. It hurt me so much. I came home and said to my wife Jolene: 'Look at us, we’re in a nice house, he’s got an iPad, DS, holidays abroad, trampoline outside.’ I just had a football as a kid. We lived on a council estate and there would be 20 kids on the patch of grass kicking a ball around – five year-olds to 19 year-olds. No prisoners. The strongest survived.

“I said to Jo: 'I find it staggering I’m talking about a five year-old and questioning his desire but I want to see it. It’s a challenge for us. How am I going to get my work ethic ingrained in that boy who has everything?’ In south London, there are a lot of underprivileged kids and they have a desire, even at five. I’ve tried to explain that to him. He’ll have to earn the iPad, the DS. He’s got to prove it to me.”

Derry is so driven that he is in the gym every morning on holiday in Lake Como. “When you hit 26, 27, you look over your shoulder and think 'the youth-team lads are coming through’. When I met Jo at 26, everything fell into place. I really settled down. I didn’t have any desire to go out, to drink.”

He does attend his wife’s gigs. “She was named after Dolly Parton’s 'Jolene’. Jo’s a real country and western fan. She’s a singer herself, in a cover band. She’s out every Friday or Saturday night. She loves it. I go when I can. I’m down in Brighton this weekend, watching her sing. Since we’ve been together, I wouldn’t say I’ve lived my life like a monk but I’ve really appreciated what football’s all about. I just love the game. I want to be in it as long as possible.

“When you hit 35, people say you can’t do it any more but I’ve never felt fitter. There is an ageism against footballers that I really don’t like. I watched Ryan Giggs [who is 39] last night and he was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. A great pro.”

QPR have great pros such as Derry, Clint Hill and Jamie Mackie, fighting hard for the cause under Harry Redknapp after the travails with Mark Hughes. “We’ve had so many changes in such a short time. We really do need to have a rhythm with a manager, a group of coaches and a settled bunch of lads to get a team spirit going. There were arguments. We are still in a very precarious situation.’’

But the mood has improved. “Definitely. It is only because we’ve got Harry at the helm. It would be very easy for me to sit here and slag Mark because he didn’t play me but I had respect for him because he was the manager. For me, he wasn’t the kind of manager you could sit down and have a conversation with. That was his way. It surprised me.

“Was I sad to see him go? I felt for him. It’s not nice when you see people lose their jobs. But many times in my career I’ve seen managers come and go. I know if I’m not in the frame with one guy, another door might open with the next. I looked forward to a different opportunity when Harry came.”

He knows that Redknapp is pursuing Yann M’Vila. “I read the papers and when players are being spoken about coming into my position, I can’t do anything about it except do my job. It doesn’t unsettle me. I’m quite a strong character. I’ve always been written off throughout my career. I read reports that he’s a very good player.

“Hopefully I can play alongside him. I’d find it hard to find myself out of the side when I feel I’ve been doing OK. Harry seems to appreciate the role I’m providing.’’

Tony Fernandes’s investment, in Loic Remy and possibly M’Vila, is a calculated move to guard against the far greater cost of relegation. Derry has been at clubs, such as Leeds, Portsmouth and Palace, where the books were not properly balanced. “I’ve experienced administration and it’s a real dark place to play. At Leeds, 37 businesses went to the pan within the Wetherby area. Leeds are a fantastic club but the lads found it really hard. Going into the final day of the season with Palace [in 2010], the boys knew we had 90 minutes not just to save the club from relegation but to save the club.’’

Aware of criticism over QPR’s recruitment strategy, Derry said: “I know the angle is obviously us spending a lot of money. I really hope that nothing like that [Leeds, Palace etc] ever happens here because I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve met the chairman on numerous occasions and he seems a pretty sound businessman. He’s got so many businesses that are doing very well so you can only look at his experience away from football and draw a lot of comfort from that.”

Derry knows how important it is for the new and old, British and overseas, to bond quickly. “A dressing room in the Premier League is so diverse. I want to become a manager one day and I’ll be so careful about getting the right mix. To be fair, we’ve got a lot of French lads and they all speak good English. I spoke to Remy briefly this morning and he seems a really nice guy. I hope he hits the ground running.’’

With Djibril Cissé almost certain to leave, someone will have to take responsibility for the dressing-room music. “Djibril’s into R’n’B and it’s an absolute pile of poo,’’ laughed Derry. “I like bands like Kings of Leon and Stone Roses. Esteban [Granero] has got a great musical taste - coming from Spain it surprised me. Clint loves his music. Jamie Mackie says he does but he doesn’t know anything about music.’’


Harry can see the experience that Derry brings to the side and at thirty five it may well be his last contract and I for one am glad it's with the hoops! Another year with Derry in the side must be a huge boost for him and the team as a whole.



The Wig