A city united - How players and supporters have pulled together in Derby's darkest hour
DERBY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 30: Derby County fans are seen during a march outside the stadium ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Birmingham City at Pride Park Stadium on January 30, 2022 in Derby, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

To say Derby County's past 22 months have been turbulent would be something of an understatement.

Numerous failed takeover bids, a year and a half under an embargo, a limited squad size, a 21 point deduction, as well as the small matter of administration, have decimated the club.

The club are desperately searching for new buyers, with no preferred bidder yet announced by Quantuma, the club's administrators.

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On the pitch, the financial struggles of the club have been evident.

Derby have not signed a player for a fee since the acquisition of Kamil Jozwiak on September 16 2020, and narrowly avoided relegation on the final day last season following a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

However, despite the hardships, the bond between the players, the fans, and those with influence around the club has never been stronger.

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  • Fighting until the end

Speaking recently on the Rams Monthly Review Show, The Athletic's Elias Burke described Derby's resilience and determination on the pitch as "remarkable", and he couldn't be more correct.

Despite a 21 point deduction, Derby sit just seven points from safety with 17 games still to play. Iconic victories away at Stoke City, as well as at home to Sheffield United, have been backed up with heroic comebacks against Reading and Birmingham City.

Derby have proven on numerous occasions that they're a team that refuses to be beaten, episomised by the brilliance of Krystian Bielik's 95th minute overhead kick equaliser against his former club.

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  • The manager's thoughts

Speaking back in December, manager Wayne Rooney stated:

"We will keep fighting, keep putting in performances and trying to pick up points."

Once we get to around mid-February we will have a better idea of whether we have a realistic chance of staying up or whether we are in League One - but we will keep going until the end.

And his team have done exactly that. Despite the majority of the squad being free transfers and academy players, the Rams have a real chance of achieving the impossible.

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  • Impact of supporters

It's almost impossible to have missed the "#SaveDerbyCounty" campaign, as it has spread far across the footballing world.

Massive online forums, which have included speakers such as Derby assistant manager Liam Rosenior, have been a real hub of ideas of which supporters have really backed.

The banner present at Pride Park Stadium, with similar designs placed around the city by Derby City Council, show the commitment to saving the club from their incredibly passionate support base.

The moment that perhaps epitomises the support from the Derby fans is the march which took place before Derby's fixture against Birmingham in late January.

Over 9000 Derby fans appeared at the march to show support for the club, and to make the point that the club needs to be saved. The atmosphere was electric, the atmosphere was very positive, and the sense of togetherness around the club seemed like it had never been stronger.

Supporters present at the march spoke of an atmosphere akin to when Derby last won promotion to the Premier League back in 2007, which speaks volumes of the level of support shown by the Derby faithful.

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  • Supporters backing supporters

Over the season, with more prevalence recently due to the unstable nature of the club, supporters have been raising money for other supporters to go to games.

This has been beneficial to those who may not be able to get to games otherwise, and emphasises the real "family feel" around Derby at this current moment.

Recently, Derby County Community Trust unveiled their plans to have an official fundraising campaign, known as "#RamsFamilyFund", to help as many people as possible to get to watch their club in action.

One thing is for sure, despite possibly the hardest two years in the club's history, Derby's team and supporters have done so much to make the club and city proud. If Derby get a buyer, and manage to remain in the Championship, it could spark some of the wildest celebrations ever seen at Pride Park.

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Will Derby stay up? How impressed have you been by all the supporter action? Let us know in the comments.

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