Whilst circumstances currently mean there’s no live football to enjoy, dcfc.co.uk is delving into the archives to feature a photograph from Derby County’s illustrious history.
For the foreseeable future, we’ll provide you an image each day for supporters to enjoy and reminisce.
Jim Smith Celebrates Leading Derby To Promotion
Derby County were promoted to the Premier League, then known as the Premiership, for the first time exactly 24 years ago today.
Pictured here is the man that masterminded Derby's success, the late Jim Smith.
Smith had been appointed as Roy McFarland's successor less than a year earlier and his first season in charge of the Rams proved to be a memorable one.
After a slow start to the season, Derby shot up the league after going on a 20-game unbeaten run from 11th November to 5th March.
Their form saw them go from being mid-table to automatic promotion contenders and they went into the final home game of the season, against Crystal Palace, knowing a victory would seal their return to the top-flight.
And they did what they needed to do as they claimed 2-1 victory in front of their own fans.
Dean Sturridge had given Derby the lead in the opening three minutes of the game as he met a long through ball from Igor Stimac to blast home.
However, that lead didn’t last long as Palace equalised minutes later. The ball was cut back to Kenny Brown to hit and he found the far corner to make it a nervy encounter.
Derby’s quality did finally shine through on a sunny afternoon at the Baseball Ground as skipper Robin van der Laan met Paul Simpson’s corner to score the decisive winning goal on an occasion to remember.
The final whistle sparked wild celebrations and rounded off a memorable first season with the club for the Bald Eagle.
Smith also oversaw Derby’s transition from the Baseball Ground to Pride Park Stadium in 1997 during what was one of the most significant periods in club’s history.
He was also responsible for the signing of some true Derby County greats such as Igor Stimac, Paulo Wanchope, Mart Poom, Stefano Eranio and several other exciting acquisitions as the Rams impressed on their return to the big time.
He amassed well over 1,000 games as a manager and will forever hold a special place in the history of Derby County Football Club.
Smith sadly passed away last December at the age of 79, but he will forever have his name firmly etched into the history of Derby County Football Club.
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