Monday, 20 October 2014

Monday musings - golden age?

In the arts and  sport especially, golden eras are a known and common phenomenon.

Ask any fan of opera about its golden era and most would probably plump for the inter-war era, when giants such as McCormack, Tauber, Gigli, Ponselle, Melba and Pinza bestrode the operatic world with performances that even today sound as vibrant as they ever did.

Country music fans will doubtless plump for the period between 1955 and 1965, when the true greats of the genre were recording some of its finest-ever songs. With the likes of Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Faron Young, Don Gibson and Porter Waggoner in their impressive pomps, it would be hard to argue against it.

Then there's rock and the golden period between 1969 and the mid-1980's, when both the hard and softer rock fans enjoyed the greatest of artists, from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Free, to the less notorious and perhaps - for some - easier on the ear bands, largely originating from across the pond in the good old US of A.

Then there's Derbyshire sport - especially football and cricket. Are we about to enter a golden era?

Take Derby County. At the moment, I follow the games and largely feel confident that an excellent squad under Steve McClaren is always likely to get a positive result. There have been other times in the club's long history when there has been great success - most notably under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, then under Dave Mackay - but at those times the county cricket club was not enjoying one of its stronger periods.

Derbyshire County Cricket Club had a good side in the 1950s, but the football team spent most of that period in the lower divisions and one has to go back to the 1930s to a period when both sides, especially the cricketers, were among the best in the country.

Today? Derby County aren't back in the top flight yet, but in their present form they are going to take some stopping. In the process, they are playing an at times breathtaking form of football that entertains and gets results. Crowds  - always steady in a football city - are flocking back  to the numbers of the halcyon days and rightly so. The game isn't cheap these days, but some of the pain can be lessened if you leave at the end of the game feeling you have been entertained.

Likewise with our cricket club. In the closing weeks of last season, I watched Derbyshire play with a confidence and purpose - a swagger, if you will - that I haven't often seen. There was a ruthless purpose to the cricket and everyone seemed to know their role. If wickets didn't fall to one bowler, he kept it quiet and someone else chipped in. Runs were contributed down the order and the vibe was both positive and encouraging.

Both clubs enjoy a fine team spirit, evident from the way that they celebrate success and battle back in adversity. Both increasingly have sets of fans who see obvious signs of progress and improvement, the longstanding moaners of Derbyshire sport having been, if not silenced, quietened for the first time in many a year.

Good times, my friends and it may be that we're witnessing the start of a golden era of Derbyshire sport. As long as the current incumbents of the key roles at both clubs are left to get on with the excellent jobs that they do, I think we're all going to have a few years to gladden our hearts in our dotage.

I'll settle for that.

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