Let me take you back to 2007.
As we all lived in blissful ignorance of the impending financial crash, the people of Sunderland could only see sunny skies. We were on Big Quinny’s magic carpet ride, Keano was in the driver’s seat and we were back in the Premier League, back in the big time and here to stay.
While we would go onto to have a comparably uneventful campaign - staying up with a game to spare - our fellow compatriots that joined us from the Championship were having a much more banterous time. It is here where I would like to take a moment to pay homage to my favourite football team of all time - the Derby County Class of 2007/8.
Having seen Sunderland hilariously crash out of the Premier League in the past two campaigns, there was a certain level of fascination and, admittedly, sympathy at seeing another team to do it.
Derby managed to do it in a manner that no-one could have foreseen, especially considering that they were one of the stronger sides in the second tier.
With “poison dwarf” Billy Davies at the helm, the Rams went about picking up absolute doozies to cobble together a squad ready for the big leagues.
Robert Earnshaw, Kenny Miller, Andy Griffin and Andy Todd arrived to join a squad already brimming with the footballing powerhouses of Dean Leacock, Alan Stubbs and human-towing-a-ferry Darren Moore.
I know what you’re thinking, how could a team of this supreme quality ever fail?
Well, in short, they just loved conceding goals. The Rams got thwacked for six on four separate occasions as well as getting royally gubbed 5-0 by West Ham. The “poison dwarf” got the boot and was replaced with Tyrone Dobbs lookalike Paul Jewell who, three months into the job, was caught up in an alleged sex tape scandal.
Paul Jewell. Sex tape scandal. Former Wigan Athletic manager Paul Jewell in a film with his mistress on tape. Paul. Jewell. Allegedly.
Anyway, Jewell’s “ram-pant” behaviour didn’t get in the way of Derby enjoying some tremendous banter along the way.
They decided to go continental in the January window and brought in Emanuel Villa (yeah, me neither), Hossam Ghaly (?), Mile Sterjovski (honestly, I have zero idea who these players are), Roy Carroll (oh my) and Robbie Savage - who had turned Sunderland down in the process.
They won one game all season, in September against Newcastle (lol), and only collected eight more points (another against Newcastle, lol).
They conceded a whopping 89 goals, finished on 11 points breaking our embarrassing record low total of 15 and became the only team to ever be relegated in March. However, their commitment to the cause lasted until the final day as Reading couldn’t put enough goals past them to survive and were relegated themselves.
So take a bow Derby County, we are kindred spirits in being desperately bad at football.