No team had ever lost the First Leg of a Championship Play-Off Semi-Final at home and still gone on to reach the Play-Off Final, until Derby County and Leeds United faced-off in a modern classic at Elland Road a year ago today.
Here, players, reporters, fans and more look back on a remarkable 90 minutes.
By Owen Bradley
It’s Wednesday 15th May 2019. Tonight, either Derby County or Leeds United will earn the right to face Aston Villa in the Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley later in the month. Leeds hold the advantage, having won 1-0 at Pride Park Stadium in the Semi-Final First Leg four days earlier. A return to the top-flight feels agonisingly close for both clubs. Derby have been out of the Premier League since 2008, though have endured a couple of promotion near-misses in recent seasons. For Leeds, the wait has been even longer. The hosts have spent nearly 15 years outside the promised land.
Colin Gibson (RamsTV reporter): In terms of Derby’s recent history, this was a massive game. Because it came off a season where I guess the play-offs weren’t necessarily high up the agenda.
Steve Nicholson (Chief Football Writer, Derby Telegraph): We’ve had a number of Play-Off semi-finals with Derby in recent seasons, and they have all carried their own importance at that moment in time.
Adam Pope (Leeds United commentator, BBC Radio Leeds): It was awful the way the regular season had ended. Leeds had been in the box-seat for promotion. So, in terms of coming into the play-offs, we weren’t exactly full of confidence. But we knew Leeds had the ability to go out and beat anybody.
Ollie Wright (Derby County supporter & blogger): It was an interesting dynamic. For Leeds, it looked nailed on that they were going to go up automatically. Then all of a sudden, they started losing games. Derby had been up and down all season, then we had this surge toward the end that saw us storm into the playoffs.
Colin Gibson: It was Frank Lampard’s first season, the rookie manager coming in, and there was a lot of circus around Frank being at Derby. But in terms of expectation, the expectations weren’t necessarily there. The season had had its moments. But when it came to it, and Derby I guess surprised some people by being in the play-offs. Suddenly there was another opportunity.
Ollie Wright: Over the season Leeds had whooped us, really whooped us. Derby weren’t at their level. And they dealt with us comfortably in the first leg as well.
Steve Nicholson: I’m a big believer in fate. I could just sense it; I could feel it. In football and in sport in general I’m a big believer that stories are there waiting to be written. As the season went on, and Derby kept going, and even after Derby lost the first leg, I was still confident. I thought they would go through on penalties.
Though the Derby-Leeds rivalry had cooled since its height in the 1970s, it had been re-ignited with a total of four meetings in the season and clubs vying for promotion.
Frank Lampard (Derby County manager, 2018/19): I was made aware of the rivalry quite soon after taking over at the club, the history of it. By the time we reached the second leg, with everything that had happened through the season, emotions had been stoked.
Colin Gibson: It had reignited everything that is Derby County versus Leeds United. Clough against Revie. Then when Nigel was manager, Clough against Leeds again. So now it’s Bielsa against Lampard, and it just seemed to fit the whole Derby-Leeds story.
Jon MacKenzie (Leeds United supporter): The rivalry was certainly ramped up by ‘Spygate’. I thought it was overblown by the media.
Adam Pope: My view was that a lot of people rounded on Bielsa around ‘Spygate’. Not anyone from Derby, but some pretty major pundits, that were having a go at him for something that was perfectly acceptable elsewhere, and there was no rule against it. I thought it was harsh.
Harry Wilson (on-loan Derby County midfielder): Throughout the season the rivalry built up. In the second game of the season they beat us convincingly at Pride Park and halfway through the season they beat us at Elland Road, so when we drew them in the play-offs we knew we had something to prove and wanted to show what we were capable of.
Mason Mount (on-loan Derby County midfielder): It felt like more than just a game of football, which isn’t always such a bad thing.
Adam Pope: It was spikey between fans, and on social media. But I don’t remember too much needle between the players.
Ollie Wright: It almost felt like this rivalry was bigger than Derby-Forest. Almost.
Jon MacKenzie: The rivalry with Derby became big that season, despite what some Leeds fans will say.
Mason Mount: We went for a walk in Leeds the morning before the game and a couple of fans spotted us. They gave us some stick; it was all good. Later that day we are leaving the hotel and there’s a group of them in the bar. They realised who we were and followed us out, shouting at us, giving us stick. We were getting on the bus and they were still going. Ashley Cole ended up shouting back at them! That moment stands out for me.
Steve Nicholson: We saw Frank’s reaction to the events of January. I thought it rattled him at the time, though he might disagree. Then Leeds beat Derby comfortably and I think it got to Frank, and I think he would probably admit it. But once something gets to you like that there’s two ways you can go. You go under, or you come back. And I just felt Derby would get another chance.
Frank Lampard: In the league games we had been pretty well beaten. So by the time we reached Elland Road, I was aware of what was at stake, aware of what it meant to everybody, and aware that it was going to be a tough ask, because they had been better than us through the three games. It made the preparation for the second leg slightly easier in the sense that it felt like we didn’t have much to lose. Sometimes when you are the underdog the team talk becomes a bit easier. Because we changed systems, we were able to focus on what we were doing on the training ground. It took away a lot of what was riding on the game. We only had a couple of days to work on the diamond, which we hadn’t worked on all season, so we didn’t talk too much about consequences, we talked about how we were going to play.
The intensity of the first leg had already taken its toll on both teams. For Leeds, that meant Adam Forshaw and Kemar Roofe ruled out, with Jamie Shackleton and former Derby loanee Patrick Bamford coming into the side. For Derby, Mason Bennett was the surprise choice to replace injured striker David Nugent and Martyn Waghorn still out.
Steve Nicholson: I was late getting there. The traffic around the ground was horrendous. I actually heard the team news on the radio. Many people would have started Jack Marriott. But this is where fate comes in.
Jack Marriott (Derby County striker): The team sheet went up as normal. I wouldn’t say I was expecting to start, because I hadn’t played too many games, but I was hoping to. I was the only fit centre-forward.
Frank Lampard: It was not an easy call, not playing Jack.
Jack Marriott: The gaffer knew I was disappointed. In the dressing room beforehand, Frank came up to me. He said, “something is going to come from you tonight.”
Frank Lampard: I just had a feeling he would still be important.
Jack Marriott: That was exactly how I felt. I told him I was ready.
Adam Pope: I work with Noel Whelan (former Leeds United striker, who also had a spell with Derby), and he was manic. When I got to the ground, he was like a box of frogs. Elland Road was absolutely packed, and it was ready to push Leeds over the line and on to the Play-Off Final.
Jon MacKenzie: I was in the East Stand, upper. It was hard to get tickets. It was a lovely sunny day. I remember very clearly having a conversation with a random Leeds fan who said that ‘there is nothing that can go wrong here’.
Adam Pope: I was quietly confident, more confident than I have been for any other Leeds play-off semi-final.
Colin Gibson: There was one Leeds fan was offering sweets to everyone around him – I’m sure he was even offering them to the Derby staff, even at half-time.
Curtis Davies (Derby County defender): All the injured boys obviously wanted to go to the game. We all trained that day, then got on the mini-bus all together. There were seven or eight of us. We thought it would be a bit much to go bursting into the dressing room, but they knew we were there, and we went and sat in the stands.
Ollie Wright: I’ve been to a fair few games at Elland Road. I’d never seen the place like that before! To see the place packed, in full roar, with the scarves twirling, the weather was good, the lights were on. The place was alive. There was no doubt that this was a massive, massive game.
Mel Morris (Derby County owner & executive chairman): As we walked into the Director’s Box, I remember chatting to Roy McFarland and seeing all the scarves waving, it didn’t feel hostile.
Jon MacKenzie: The whole place was absolutely packed. The club have put scarves out. The atmosphere was jumping. It was the perfect occasion.
Harry Wilson: I had never played at Elland Road before, but I had heard about the atmosphere and I felt it in the tunnel before kick-off. We could hear the fans, our fans and their fans, while we were waiting. Walking out into it, seeing the scarves waving. We could feel it.
The opening exchanges were relatively uneventful, at least compared to what was to come. Fikayo Tomori was shown an early yellow card for a foul on Bamford, but there were heavy challenges coming in from all sides. It was building to the first flashpoint of the contest. Scott Malone and Pablo Hernandez clash in front of the dugout, with both men booked.
Colin Gibson: I don’t remember that at all! There were lots of challenges going in, Derby were doing their best to stay in the game.
Adam Pope: It was so different to the first-leg. This was a full-on Cup tie. This had everything.
Curtis Davies: It’s strange. It was the first time in years I was properly a fan. I was able to release and get into it.
Jon MacKenzie: We were looking good in the first-half. It was business as usual.
Harry Wilson: We played a bit of a different formation, and I think the diamond caused them problems.
Mason Mount: Leeds made a couple of mistakes at the back in the first-half; the goalkeeper made a couple of bad clearances. That gave us more confidence.
Ollie Wright: I thought we had started quite well, with the different system.
24 minutes in, and Leeds appear to take a step closer to Wembley. Kalvin Phillips swings in a free-kick from the left that evades everyone and bounces off the far post. With the Derby defence wrong-footed, Stuart Dallas stands unmarked and steers the ball in.
Adam Pope: Once Stuart Dallas scored, I thought that was it.
Ollie Wright: It was a ball arced in, and there was no way that should have gone all the way through. It felt like the softest, softest goal. Set pieces and crossing had been our Achilles heel all season.
Colin Gibson: Leeds go 1-0 up and I thought, that probably is it.
Jon MacKenzie: When Stuart Dallas scored that goal, I thought we were on our way. Maybe we have put the nightmares behind us.
Mel Morris: I looked at Frank. He was so calm. That goal didn’t change the mission, really. We still needed to score two goals. Extra-time would have been fine.
Frank Lampard: I was disappointed. But I was happy with what I had seen up to that point. Obviously, it hurt and you knew the game could get away from you pretty quickly, but sometimes when it is so close that first goal can be a little bit of a red herring. We still needed to score two goals, which is how we set-up to go there anyway, so it didn’t change too much.
Steve Nicholson: There was something about Frank Lampard. It never felt like it was going to end that night. Even when Leeds went ahead, and hit the woodwork early on.
Martyn Waghorn (Derby County striker): You have to remember, all season we had turned up for the big games. Manchester United, Chelsea, Southampton. We played big in big games.
Two minutes to half-time, and despite showing spirit and coming close through a Mason Bennett header, Derby still trail. On the touchline, the fourth official’s board appears, too early to be signalling the amount of injury time. Lampard is making a change.
Jack Marriott: I first went out to warm up really early on, like 15 minutes in. I was warming up for most of the first half.
Steve Nicholson: I actually got into the ground just before the substitution. We were stuck on the dual carriageway. Chris (Watson, Derby Telegraph reporter) got out and legged it the rest of the way. It is the only 40 minutes I have missed since 2001. I was nearly in tears in the car, in frustration more than anything. It has taken me a long time to get over that.
Colin Gibson: I don’t know whether the substitution was forced on Frank Lampard because Duane Holmes was injured, or whether it was a tactical switch.
Ollie Wright: I didn’t realise Duane Holmes had been injured. I thought it was a really interesting tactical change.
Frank Lampard: We knew Duane had a problem going into the game. He had had a fitness test before, but I was worried about him anyway. That formation asked a lot of him, and normally he had the legs for it, but I could see he was struggling. As it came toward half-time, chatting to the staff, we were considering whether to wait or whether to try and make an impact before the end of the first half. We thought, let’s do it.
Colin Gibson: You make substitutions sometimes and it has zero impact, but actually Frank had an incredible record of making substitutions and it making a difference.
Curtis Davies: That was the moment it all started rolling.
Jack Marriott: We won the first header, then Mason Bennett flicks it on, and I’m thinking, gamble.
Steve Nicholson: When Holmes goes off, it forces your hand a little bit. Marriott comes on, then you get the moment with the Leeds goalkeeper and the defender.
Jack Marriott: I saw the goalkeeper running out as well, and me and the centre-half are both going at some pace and I’m thinking, something is going to happen here.
Steve Nicholson: That was the key moment. The injury, the change that had to be made, the mistake. That lets Derby back in the tie.
Frank Lampard: It changed the players’ belief. Until that goal, I think they felt Leeds had the better of us.
Adam Pope: People can debate whether it was Liam Cooper or Casilla. For me it was Casilla who should have taken control of the situation, but rarely have I seen a goal cause such panic.
Jack Marriott: I was hoping for the best, and the best happened. There was a mix-up, I got there first, and put it in.
Colin Gibson: It was a bizarre moment. The goalkeeper racing out, getting in the way of the defender, and Jack Marriott duly scores. It brought Derby back to life. But I’m thinking, Leeds have got half-time to re-group. Bielsa will get them together, I can’t see how we’ll hold back that tide.
Jack Marriott: It was a strange, strange feeling. It was literally my first touch. I didn’t know what to do.
Jon MacKenzie: The manner of that goal was so fundamental. If it had been a normal scenario, we would have been fine with it. But it was so calamitous, I think the players’ heads went and the fans’ heads went.
Harry Wilson: We were starting to get a grip in the game. We were pushing forward, we had won a couple of corners. That goal happened at a massive time in the game.
Adam Pope: It was probably the most important of the goals on the night. Without that, Derby were gone.
Half-Time: Leeds United 1-1 Derby County (2-1 agg)
Steve Nicholson: I think if Derby go in at half-time losing, the tie is over. But going in at 1-1, it puts a totally different complexion on how both teams are thinking.
Adam Pope: I went down from the gantry at half-time and went past some Leeds regulars from the supporters’ club, and nobody felt like Leeds were still ahead. You could feel that slump and that big question mark above Elland Road.
Ollie Wright: I remember going down into the concourse and the singing was immense. The fans were so galvanised. The sheer passion had kicked in. That noise was incredible.
Frank Lampard: At half-time it was clear. The players were different. They were up for it. The goal had changed their thinking. I think they felt nervousness around Elland Road when they walked in.
Harry Wilson: I could feel that. I don’t think I said it, but a couple of the lads did.
Mason Mount: All the big characters were speaking. I remember Tom Lawrence being vocal at that point about how we could do it.
Frank Lampard: It made my team-talk easy.
Jack Marriott: We felt like we had a real chance. It was so positive in there. We knew we were going to go out and have a right go in the second half.
Jon MacKenzie: To this day I haven’t watched the highlights back. So I just have terrible, fleeting memories of what actually happened.
At 8:49pm, Derby get the second half underway.
Colin Gibson: Second-half, Derby came out and took the game to Leeds. It was Derby, and Frank Lampard’s Derby, at its best.
Steve Nicholson: The second half was mayhem. I don’t like games like that, when they’re out of control. It drives me up the wall. Games like that, I am almost ready to shut my laptop up and walk out.
Adam Pope: When Mason Mount scored, it was like seeing your worst fears, everything you’d been thinking about for the last 15 minutes, realised. The nightmare began.
Harry Wilson: I didn’t realise it was so soon after half-time. We pressed, I made a tackle, the ball broke to Richard Keogh, he found me, and then I just heard Mason shout. I didn’t even see him, I just heard him shout. I managed to slide the ball over, and he did the rest.
Mason Mount: There was a massive space on the left, no-one in front of me, so I made a run. I was screaming at Harry because I knew he hadn’t seen me, he turned the other way, so I was absolutely screaming. It was a perfect pass.
Curtis Davies: Once he started falling, I didn’t think Mason had a chance.
Mason Mount: The defender was coming across, so I had to cut inside and get a shot off quick. As I’ve cut inside, my foot slipped, so I’m falling to the ground with the ball there. I don’t know what happened. It’s like a karate kick off the floor, like a chip shot. The keeper didn’t have a clue that I was going to do that, to be fair I don’t think I did either.
Mel Morris: That finish was unnatural. Incredible goal.
Harry Wilson: How he managed to get that in, I don’t know. But we didn’t look back.
Jon MacKenzie: I know Mason Mount scored but after that I was in shellshock.
Ollie Wright: In a few minutes we had gone from being dead and buried to being back on level terms with the wind in our sails.
The Rams are rolling now, and 11 minutes in to the second half are about to take the lead in the tie for the first time.
Colin Gibson: I didn’t even realise a penalty had been given. My excuse is that you are so low down it is difficult to see through the crowd of players on the field. It was only when I looked up I realised, this is it, this is the great turnaround of all turnarounds.
Ollie Wright: It was right in front of us. We played a couple of neat little passes, Mason Bennett moved in to the box, and Cooper just pulled Bennett’s shirt. It was an obvious foul, really clear. Stone wall penalty.
Adam Pope: I really felt for Liam Cooper. He’s a really good captain. And he gives away the penalty. And I thought, there’s no way Wilson is missing it.
Harry Wilson: I was the chosen penalty taker, so I knew as soon as the referee pointed to the spot, it was up to me. I was nervous, but I am always confident. I think of it as a free shot at goal. It was probably the most nervous I have been in my career. Thankfully the keeper went the other way.
Ollie Wright: I didn’t see much of the players celebrating. There was a ball of supporters on the floor in front of us, hugging each other. We were in the middle of this maelstrom of crazy, raw emotion in the away end.
Curtis Davies: Amazing game. Amazing atmosphere. Showed what our fans can do. They got the best out of the lads.
Frank Lampard: I didn’t celebrate, no. I remember that. It was because I felt there was still so far to go, and I was concerned about the quality of that Leeds team. I didn’t want it to be a false dawn. I didn’t want us to relax.
Colin Gibson: You think, there’s no way we will let Leeds back into the game. And then they score five minutes later.
With almost their first attack of the half, Leeds hit back.
Jon MacKenzie: That goal came out of nowhere. It felt as though we were playing so badly. I had got it in to my head that we weren’t going to get out of it.
Mason Mount: That goal came kind of from out of the blue. The one where he cut inside and went bottom corner, wasn’t it? Yeah it was a great finish. But we were on top. We knew we would get more chances.
Adam Pope: Later Bielsa admitted to me that he should have played Stuart Dallas more that season. He scored one of the best goals of his career there. Now it’s 3-3, absolutely in the balance. What a noise when that went in. What a game.
Frank Lampard: It was difficult to handle emotionally. But even when they scored, it still felt like it was our night. With what had gone on through the year, and the strides that we had made, we sensed it was coming together.
Colin Gibson: Because of where Leeds had been, because they had been the dominant force throughout the season, because of how they’d performed against Derby, I knew what was going to happen here. They aren’t going to fall apart again. They are going to score the winner.
Martyn Waghorn: They scored, and I just had this feeling. I knew we were going to win. I turned to Wiz (Andre Wisdom, Derby defender) and Stores (Adam Storer, Derby Player Liaison Officer) and said, “we are going to win this.”
Harry Wilson: It should have made us panic, but I don’t think it affected us all that much. I felt that if there was going to be another goal, we were going to get it.
Martyn Waghorn: There was this strange feeling in the stadium.
After Dallas levels the tie on aggregate, the action continues apace. Luke Ayling flashes a shot wide for Leeds, while at the other end Gaetano Berardi is booked after dragging down Mount. The yellow cards are flying now, with Anthony Taylor racing over to caution someone on the Leeds bench. With 12 minutes to go, Berardi lunges in on Bradley Johnson…
Adam Pope: I think the red card was crucial. It gave everything back to Derby.
Steve Nicholson: It must have been important, but I think with the game so open, Derby were going to score again anyway. I am not sure how much the sending off affected things.
Frank Lampard: Practically it can matter, but I don’t think it had a huge influence. It didn’t change the game.
Adam Pope: Beradi has got that fire. You know when challenges start flying in, he won’t step back. You could see it coming. It was such a boost for Derby. Unusually for Bielsa, for the next few minutes people weren’t quite sure where they were meant to be. Derby exploited that brilliantly.
Extra-time is looming. It is now 3-3 on aggregate, with five minutes left of normal time . . .
Jack Marriott: Suddenly, Harry is through one-on-one. I’m thinking: it’s on his left foot, this is going in, it’s time to celebrate.
Harry Wilson: I hit the post.
Jack Marriott: I couldn’t believe it hit the post.
Harry Wilson: I would usually put money on myself to score. I did think, ‘oh no – was that the chance to go to Wembley?’
But just 30 seconds later . . .
Jack Marriott: So, Luke Ayling goes charging up the pitch. Now he was playing right-back that night. And the right-side centre-half was the one who just got sent off. So, I go and take up that position, because naturally people aren’t going to cover there when Beradi has been there all night.
Colin Gibson: It was the quality of the winning goal. The finish from Jack Marriott, that deft little finish.
Jack Marriott: Richard Keogh charges forward, one-two with Mason Mount, and suddenly I’m in.
Frank Lampard: It is an outstanding goal. It was an incredible moment. It was the sort of football we had been trying to play all year. The finish was top-class.
Jack Marriott: The goalkeeper comes charging out. The only option for me was to dink him. And as soon as it left my foot, I knew it was in.
Harry Wilson: Jack saved me a bit there!
Steve Nicholson: Jack did what he knows he can do, what he’d done in that purple patch earlier in the season. He finished. In those moments, a finisher becomes cold and makes the right decisions. I am not sure who else would have taken that opportunity.
Adam Pope: People have had a go at the goalkeeper, but Marriott was so sharp. When it went in, you knew there was no coming back. It was all over.
Ollie Wright: He ran around the back of the goal and ran straight towards us to celebrate.
Jack Marriott: It was euphoric, that feeling. First goal I didn’t know what was going on, but the second it was a complete rush of emotion. The celebrations were incredible.
Curtis Davies: If you watch the clips, you see me chucking a young lad up and down in the air! Can you imagine if I’d have dropped him?!
Into added time, and with Leeds searching for an equaliser, Malone brings down Hernandez on the edge of the Derby box. The referee reaches for his cards again . . .
Ollie Wright: I didn’t realise Scott Malone had been sent off until I got to the pub afterwards! I remember them winning the free-kick, I think I put my head in my hands and just didn’t see it.
Steve Nicholson: It was a real shame for Scott. It meant he would be banned for the final. You kind of forget in the moment.
Frank Lampard: There were some nerves after that. They had that late free-kick. I did think about Scott missing Wembley, but you have to just park that. We had to see out the next few minutes.
Adam Pope: Izzy Brown had a free-kick right at the end. We never saw anything of him for Leeds really. That was a weird decision. There were other people on the pitch who could have taken it.
Jon MacKenzie: I stayed right to the end. You can’t just run away from moments like that, I had to endure it.
Colin Gibson: You can see that Frank Lampard is waiting to explode. He was ready after getting plenty of stick.
Steve Nicholson: In those moments you always keep an eye on the bench, you always keep an eye on the manager. Frank quite liked a celebration, and there was going to be a big one given everything that had gone on that season.
Colin Gibson: The bench was getting more and more frantic, jumping up and down, waiting for the whistle. And when the final whistle goes, it’s just an explosion.
At 9:41pm, the final whistle goes. Derby County are through to the Championship Play-Off Final.
Adam Pope: It was dreadful. And those celebrations went on forever.
Martyn Waghorn: In that moment, I was a proper Derby fan.
Colin Gibson: Frank Lampard has won everything in football. But he still must want to just bottle that moment and hold on to it forever.
Mason Mount: I couldn’t believe it was over. After everything that had happened in that season. To finally get that win against Leeds, after three defeats from three beforehand, in the most important game.
Jack Marriott: I fell to the floor. I was mentally and physically drained. Then I looked up and saw Duane charging towards me, limping!
Curtis Davies: I had Marcus Olsson one side of me, shaking me, I had Andre Wisdom – who is a big strong fellow – the other side of me. It was crazy. And coming back to training a day or two after, my shins and my calves were grazed and cut to pieces from banging against the seats!
Colin Gibson: And then everybody is on the pitch. It’s not mayhem, but it’s utter joy. The likes of which I’ve never seen before. And I think the Leeds fans were shell-shocked, about the fact they weren’t going to Wembley, that they stood there and applauded their team, but just couldn’t believe what had happened. Fair play to Leeds that they allowed this incredible celebration to take place on their pitch.
Steve Nicholson: I had to negotiate my route back down from the gantry. For someone who hates heights, I am not sure how I survived that. In a way I forgot about the celebrations!
Mason Mount: Thinking back, all I can really remember is celebrating every goal, running over to that corner, all the fans, the boys in the stands. Every goal, and at the end, we just went absolutely mad.
Adam Pope: We wrap up quite quickly at full-time so I can get down and do the interviews, so I was able to take it all in.
Steve Nicholson: We had to hotfoot it down to the room where the managers have their press conferences. The WiFi in there was shocking, as it’s under the stand. In a way the whole night was falling apart for me, everything apart from the result. Bielsa came in first, and his press conferences go on forever. After a while I could see Tom (Loakes, Derby County Senior Communications Officer) at the door with Frank, waiting to see when they could get in. Tom beckoned me over I went out to speak to them. It was emotional. Just the three of us. It was a big moment for Frank.
Jack Marriott: Sky Sports kept trying to grab me for an interview, so I was in-and-out of the celebrations with the fans.
Adam Pope: It means so much to so many people, you can feel that. It really hurt. When defeat comes like that, it was horrible. I don’t really remember the winning goal, but I remember every minute of waiting and watching Derby celebrate.
Harry Wilson: Frank was big on us enjoying the moment. The fans followed us all season, some of the lads were in the stands too. We all got to celebrate it together.
Frank Lampard: It was the spirit. To see Mel on the pitch, the media guys, the boys who were injured but were in the crowd. It felt like we deserved it. Some people want to criticise the celebrations, but we didn’t care. I was thinking about the two or three thousand Derby fans that travelled up to Leeds, the players who had worked so hard, to have their moment. You can’t just turn away from that. The whole club deserved to celebrate it.
Mel Morris: It was surreal, getting down to the pitch at the end. I always thought we could do something, but walking down after that and seeing the fans, it was unbelievable. And to see all the walking wounded, Curtis and Waggy and David Nugent – we’d seen them at the services on the drive up! It was fantastic.
Ollie Wright: I remember Mel coming out, and the players coming over and celebrating. It was lovely. You realised how young they were. They were overjoyed.
Jack Marriott: I wasn’t jumping around and dancing because I just didn’t have the energy. I watched it back not too long ago, and in the interviews after, the bags under my eyes, I look knackered!
Colin Gibson: In a way you’d have thought Derby had won promotion that night, and I know there are those who say Derby over-celebrated. But in the heat of the moment, everyone wanted to celebrate getting to the Final.
Ollie Wright: Frank was whipping it up, which was brilliant.
Steve Nicholson: That night is right up there, of all the games I have covered. It is those sorts of nights that send your emotions all over the place. To come out on top in those games, that’s what’s special.
Ollie Wright: My voice had completely gone, it was shot. I couldn’t sing any more. But I couldn’t stop. It was the most intense game of football I’ve ever experienced. It’s hard to see how that could ever happen again.
Jon MacKenzie:If I had been a neutral, I think I would have loved that game.
Steve Nicholson: You couldn’t write that. For that one season to have so much happen between Derby and Leeds. It was quite incredible.
Mel Morris: In my time as owner, it’s my favourite game. Without a shadow of a doubt.
Harry Wilson: It is the best game I have ever been involved in. With everything that was at stake. To do it the way we did. The way we performed. It is a night I will always remember.
Frank Lampard: I hope it is one of the nights that will stick-out for Derby fans.
Jack Marriott: I hope I will, but I don’t think I will ever play in a game like that again. It is the highlight of my career.
Ollie Wright: It was a brilliant game. Two good teams trying to play the right way. A spectacle for the neutral. For a Derby fan, I can’t put into words what a fantastic night it was. I will always treasure it.