Derby sporting teams and recreation
The two most famous sporting teams associated with Derby are undoubtedly its Premiership football team and its first class cricket club. Out in the county there is a motor racing circuit that has been the venue for international events and the nearby Peak District provides plenty of opportunities for a variety of outdoor sports and recreational activities. The city also has an excellent selection of other clubs providing plenty of sporting opportunities for the residents.
Derby County Football Club is one of the great names in English football. Currently playing the English premier League the club has had mixed fortunes in recent years. However, Derby County has always enjoyed excellent support and crowd attendance at its matches, like many other clubs in city's that are heavily industrialised. The club was formed in 1884 to compliment the Derbyshire County Cricket Club, as a sports club for the winter months. The Rams, as they are popularly known, are one of the oldest established association football clubs in the country and was a founding member of the Football League in 1888. The club originally played its matches at the Racecourse Ground, alongside the cricket pitch. However, in 1895 they moved to the Leys Recreation ground which was later to become the famous Baseball Ground. The grounds name does derive from an association with baseball. The owner of the Leys ground at the end of the 19th century was a local industrialist, Francis Ley, who on returning from a trip to America introduced baseball to the UK at his companies Ley Recreation Ground, which he renamed the Baseball Ground. Before long baseball had lost its allure with the British public and the Rams became the dominant users of the ground. The club now plays at its new stadium, Pride Park, to the south west of the city centre. Derby County has many illustrious former player sand managers, but will forever be associated with Brian Clough who returned the club to its former glories in the 1970s.
Derbyshire County Cricket Club currently plays in Division II of the County Championship. Formed in 1870 they have played at the Racecourse ground in Derby. Derbyshire have never been one of the strongest teams in the County Championship, the only time they won the Championship was 1936, but they have played consistently at the top level of English cricket for over 110 years. Incidentally, the Racecourse ground hasn't been used for horse racing since 1939 and the 'Derby' horse race has no connection with Derby racecourse. A 'Derby', in horse racing terms, is simply an annual horse race restricted to those that are three years old.
Derby has both rugby union and rugby league teams. Derby Rugby Football Club is the 'union' team of the city. Originally formed in 1892 they are known as the 'Tigers' and include amongst their former players Ireland and British Lions captain, Karl Mullen. The clubs ground is at Haslams Lane, in the north of the city near Darley Dale. The club has six senior teams along with a women's, juniors and mini teams. The Tigers first team plays in the Midlands Division II East league. Derby City Rugby League Football Club plays in the Midlands Premier Division, at the Asterdale Club off the Borrowash Road in Spondon.
The two main hockey clubs in Derby are the Asterdale and West Derby Hockey Clubs. Asterdale plays in the same sports ground as the Rugby League team. The hockey club was formed in 1999 by the merger of the Derby and Spondon Hockey clubs. Asterdale has men's and women's teams playing in local Midlands leagues. The West Derby Hockey Club also has men's and women's teams. The senior men's team plays in Division I of the North West Hockey League and the ladies team was promoted to Division I of the Lancashire Women's Hockey Association in 2007.
Apart from offering swimming lessons the City of Derby Swimming Club, formed in 1983, competes in the National Speedo Swimming League and has representatives at the Amateur Swimming Association Championships and the Midland District Championships. The club meets at the Queens Leisure Centre on Moor Lane, Allenton. Staying with a watery theme the Midland Canoe Club has its clubhouse on the River Derwent in Darley Dale off the A6. As well as being able to use the River Derwent there is plenty of more challenging canoeing in the Peak District, less than 20 minutes away. Back on dry land, Derby Athletic Club competes in the British athletic Division II for men and the Northern League Division III for the women's team. It also ahs junior and veterans teams, all of which meet at the Moorways stadium, in Moors Lane, Allenton.
A few miles out of the city is the Castle Donnington Motor Racing Circuit, commonly referred to as Donnington Park. In the past it has help Grand Prix races, but it is now better known for holding British Touring Car and Super-Bike races. The park also has a museum of Formula I Grand Prix cars and plays host to the annual Download festival of rock music.