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Nottingham Forest legend Garry Birtles makes ‘hostile’ claim concerning Derby County

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Nottingham Forest legend Garry Birtles has claimed that the rivalry with Derby County was “hostile” back in the late 1970s, particularly in the clash between the two sides at the Baseball Ground in 1979. 

The two East Midlands outfits have a long and storied rivalry, having first met each over more than 125 years ago.

The meeting between the two sides on the 14th of April 1979 is a particularly famous one due to the conditions it was played under – with sand being used to repair the pitch at the Baseball Ground.

Forest won that meeting 2-1, with Birtles grabbing the opening goal, in what was a fantastic season for the club – as they picked up the first of their two consecutive European Cup wins.

Speaking to the club website, the former Reds striker discussed the game and revealed the hostility of the rivalry and the atmosphere.

He said: “It was quite incredible build up really to the Derby game. We had the Cologne game, the semi-final first leg, which I think everybody remembers as one of the great games from those two European Cup runs.

“To come through that, then to go to the Baseball Ground and play in, again, poor conditions and win the game was quite incredible.”

Birtles added: “It was hostile, the Baseball Ground because you were close to the fans and it lifted you as a player and spurred you on.

“It was hostile in those days, maybe not as hostile these days but just as loud and vitriolic at times because everyone wants to get the bragging rights.”

Sabri Lamouchi’s side have got the better of the Rams in their two meetings this season – hammering them 3-0 in the EFL Cup in August and then beating them 1-0 in the Championship in November.

The two sides were scheduled to meet again at the start of this month but were unable to during the current delay to English football due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The Verdict

Forest have had the bragging rights over their East Midlands rivals this season and you feel their fans won’t mind hearing Birtles discuss another famous victory.

With Derby having improved significantly in the second half of the campaign the next East Midlands derby should be a really exciting one (if and when we get it).

Luckily, the conditions are likely to be much better at Pride Park than they were at the Baseball Ground in 1979.


Bristol-born, London-based sports journalist at Snack Media. University of Brighton and NA graduate

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Nottingham Forest legend Garry Birtles makes ‘hostile’ claim concerning Derby County

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