Video of the Day: Ipswich Town vs Derby County, April 1976
Throughout the course of the ascent of Leicester City to becoming the champions of England, there has been much talk of what may or may not happen next. How might they fare in the group stages of next year’s Champions League? To what extent will they be able to defend their Premier League title? What might the team look like come the start of next season, considering the offers for their players that are likely to to flooding in as soon as this season is over? None of these questions are answerable at this moment in time, but this weekend in the Championship two teams meet who both had moments in the sun before receding back to a place in the second tier of the game.
In April 1976, Ipswich Town were sill preparing for the greatest years in the history of their club. Between 1978 and 1981, the club won the FA Cup, were runners-up in the First Division and won the UEFA Cup. Derby County, meanwhile, had won the First Division title in 1972 and 1975, and the 1975/76 season had been reasonable for the club, even though it had brought the sort of silverware that the previous two years mentioned had. On the last Saturday of the season, Derby travelled south-east to play Ipswich Town in fifth place in the table, and they would end the season a spot higher in fourth, with only Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United above them in the table.
Yet things might have been very different. A month earlier, Derby had been a point off the top of the table before their form collapsed, and it’s possible to see this end of season match at Portman Road as being the last hurrah of the great Derby team of the early to mid 1970s. The team would spend the next four seasons in the bottom half of the First Division and the club was relegated in 1980, with a further relegation following in 1984. None of this is to say that Leicester City will repeat this ignominy, of course. The financial rewards of Premier League success and involvement in next season’s Champions League should, if used anything like wisely, ensure that the club has a stable Premier League future to look forward to. Those moments in the ascendency for smaller clubs, however, do have a tendency to be fleeting in nature. Just ask the supporters of Ipswich Town or Derby County. Commentary at Portman Road comes from Gerry Harrison.