Rams in Africa

Rams in Africa

When Dave Mackay’s side won the First Division title in April 1975, Derby County’s Youth Team were on tour over 7,000 miles away in Zambia taking part in the Peter Stuyvesant Trophy. The winner of the trophy would be decided over three matches against Zambia Schools by goal aggregate. However, the young Rams played nine games in total on the tour, seven against Zambian teams and two against Malawi Schools teams. The trophy is named after the major Zambian cigarette brand, but Peter Stuyvesant was also a key figure in the early history of New York City in the 17th century. The list of tour results (and scorers where known) is as follows;

Saturday 19 April v Kabwe United, President Stadium, Kabwe – won 1-0 (Bell).

Sunday 20 April v City of Lusaka, Woodlands Stadium, Lusaka – won 2-1 (Adams, Johnson).

Wednesday 23 April v Zambia Schools, Maramba Stadium, Livingstone – lost 2-1. Attendance 5000, scorer John Turner who was the goalkeeper in the first half, but replaced Lee Adams at half time.

Thursday 24 April v Green Buffaloes, Independence Stadium, Lusaka – won 2-1.

Saturday 26 April v Zambia Schools, Scrivener Stadium, Kitwe – lost 2-1 (Egan).

Sunday 27 April v Zambia Schools, Kafubu Stadium, Luanshya – won 2-0.

Thursday 1 May v Young Zambia, Dag Hammarskjoeld Stadium, Ndola – drew 0-0.

The 18 page programme issued by the Zambia Schools FA has a black and white cover and contains as much advertising as readable content including British Caledonian airlines, Coca-Cola, Ford Cortina, a Lusaka based sports equipment store and Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes (‘The International Passport to Smoking Pleasure’).

A welcome message from Football Association of Zambia informs us that this is the seventh successive year a youth side from Britain have toured Zambia. The programme later lists the previous teams as West Ham (1969), Ipswich (1970), Wolves (1971), Nottingham Forest (1972), Aston Villa (1973) and Newcastle (1974).

A photograph of the youth team has a caption naming Fearn, Egan, Batch, Johnson, Webb, Adam, Colin Murphy (coach), Boseley, Bowley, Bell, Taylor and Woods. This was not the entire tour party as the photograph below, taken from the Ram Summer Edition (dated Friday May 30 1975), shows at least 15 players posing outside the Baseball Ground before leaving for the airport.

Back to the programme, and ‘Meet the Young Rams’ introduces readers to 17 year old Eire youth International Donald O’Riordan. Colin Murphy described O’Riordan’s top asset as ‘his ability to attack the ball in the air, both in the penalty box and those coming from defenders pushing in long, through balls. He is also a sharp challenger on the ground and when he wins the ball he is not one of those who promptly loses it or gives it away.’

O’Riordan went on to make six appearances for Derby and made his debut as a 24th-minute substitute for Charlie George in a 0–0 draw away to Tottenham Hotspur on 23 March 1977. He scored one goal in a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham in October 1977 before joining Doncaster Rovers on loan in January 1978. O’Riordan then made a permanent move to Tulsa Roughnecks in Oklahoma where he played for a season. He moved back to England to Preston North End, where he made 158 appearances and won the Player of the Year award in 1981/82. O’Riordan later represented Carlisle, Middlesbrough, Grimsby, Notts County and Torquay, then progressed to a coaching and managing career in Ireland, South Africa and China.

‘Another Roy?’ features Michael Webb, a 16 year old from Southampton described by junior coach Alan Hill as the ‘best prospect for his age I’ve come across…if he works hard at his game we think he has a chance to become another Roy McFarland. He is commanding in the air, reads a game like one many years his senior. His on-the-ground game is not in the same category yet, but the training staff are working hard and it is improving every week. Michael is very hard in the tackle, is courageous, and uses the ball well.’ Webb did not graduate to Derby’s first team, and presumably did not make a career out of football.The Ram newspaper issued for the final home game of the 1974/75 season against Carlisle United provides a further insight into the early part of the tour. A photograph shows the youth team pictured at the airport and a brief article, ‘Rams Youth do well in Zambia,’ reported that ‘Last Saturday they beat Cabwe United in fierce heat at a 6,000 feet altitude only three days after their arrival, with Derek Bell getting the only goal of a vastly entertaining game in front of a big crowd.

‘The next day they beat the much better City of Lusaka youth team 2-1 after running up a two-goal lead in the first 11 minutes through goals by Adams and Johnson. Later on the strain of two games in two days in strange climatic conditions certainly told on them and Lusaka made a great effort to get level after they scored 15 minutes from the end, but Rams held out for a deserved win’.

The Ram Summer Edition, published after the tour, reports that Derby won the Peter Stuyvesant Trophy on goal average despite losing two of three match ‘Test’ series. Ritchie Norman is quoted as saying that ‘Though they are described as Schools teams the (Zambian) lads are, in fact, anything up to 21. They don’t have birth certificates, you see, so it’s a case of catching their education as they can.’

The report continues; ‘Derby’s party, led by director Mr. Jack Kirkland who did sterling service for Britain in a series of social functions in an emerging African nation, came back impressed by the standards both of football and the way of life in President Kenneth Kaunda’s country. “Once they organise their game, they will be a big threat”.

‘The two matches against Zambia Schools were the only games the Rams lost, both 2-1. But their 2-0 win in the third and last game was enough to win the trophy which had the whole country looking in. But more important, Derby’s lads won the hearts of Zambia by their impeccable behaviour off the pitch and their fine sportsmanship on it.

“They were a real credit to us all,” said a highly impressed Mr. J. Kirkland. The minibus they used to get round the vast Zambian countryside had special announcements ‘Derby County Zambia Tour’ on it and, even in remote villages where they stopped, hundreds came out to look at them and shake their hands. Highlight was the visit to Livingstone where they saw the Victoria Falls and the night they heard Derby were Champions…several hours after the event…when Mr. Kirkland personally filled the Stuyvesant Trophy they had just won.” The large trophy is on display in the trophy cabinet at the iPro Stadium.

Derby’s Youth Team also played two matches in neighbouring Malawi against schools teams. The Rams won both games, the first 1-0 on 4 May (scorer Adams) and the second 2-0 on 6 May (Adams and Fern). The programme covering these games was issued by the Schools Football Association of Malawi and is printed on pink paper.

Thanks to Andy Ellis for providing additional detail of the results and scorers from the tour.

This article was first printed in issue 10 of Derby County Memories (September 2015). If you enjoyed reading it, why not buy copies of the magazine? See the About section for further details.