Captain praises Derby County fans following promotion

This is an image of Conor Hourihane
Derby County's Conor Hourihane during a pre-season friendly match at Pride Park Stadium. Photo credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Derby County captain, Conor Hourihane, has released an open letter to Rams fans praising the squad and fans alike.

The club was promoted to the Championship at the end of last season, and Hourihane played a crucial role in Paul Warne’s squad.  

The Irish midfielder spoke to Leigh Curtis for the Derby Telegraph, on May 14, as he outlined the successes of the memorable season.  

Hourihane said: “It feels incredibly special to have been part of the squad to take Derby County back to the Championship.” 

The skipper spoke of his ambitions when he joined the Rams back in the summer of 2022, and how this aligned with the other players who have joined Derby County in the past two seasons.  

He said: “Every single player that has signed for the club in the last few years has done so with the ambition of taking this great club back up the leagues.  

“It was a driving force for me; I wanted to be part of the rebuild and I know every other player felt the same too.” 

Hourihane joined Derby following a turbulent time for the football club, having just been relegated, and newly emerging out of administration.  

A photo of Conor Hourihane
Conor Hourihane of Derby County during the Sky Bet League 1 match between Derby County and Bristol Rovers at Pride Park. Credit: MI News & Sport /Alamy Live News

After a consolidation season in League One during the 2022/23 season, Paul Warne’s side set their sights on promotion.  

Hourihane was made club captain at the start of the 2023/24 season and played a pivotal role in the promotion chasing side. 

Derby County earned promotion on the final day against Carlisle with a 2-0 at Pride Park Stadium, finishing second in the league.  

In the open letter, Hourihane spoke about the special day on April 27: “To do it at Pride Park, in front of a full crowd and with our families and friends watching on, made it a day which will live with us all forever.” 

Derby County were bought out of administration by Derbyshire-born businessman, David Clowes, who quickly became regarded as a local hero amongst the fan base.  

Hourihane spoke of Clowe’s role in bringing together to the team, the football club, and the city of Derby in his interview with Derby Telegraph.  

He said: “We will individually have our special moments and takeaways from the day, but receiving the trophy from David Clowes was probably the highlight.  

“He rescued Derby County when no-one else stepped up to the plate in the summer of 2022 and he deserved a moment and a day like that more than anyone else.” 

Hourihane also spoke of the importance of the fans during the promotion campaign, as the club held a sold-out Pride Park Stadium on the final day: “Both at Pride Park and on the road, the backing we’ve received in the last year has been nothing short of sensational and it is not lost on us as a group. 

“We know that following us up and down the country comes at a cost and I really hope we’ve made the hours of travel and money spent on tickets and general match day expenses worth it.” 

The club captain also praised the squad’s resilience through injury struggles and a competitive league one promotion race.  

He concluded the letter with: “It has been a pleasure to lead the group over the last 12 months as captain and on behalf of all the players, thank you for your incredible support. 

“We are proud to wear the badge of Derby County on our chests and I hope you’ve been able to see that in how we’ve represented this wonderful club.” 

The club captain’s contract expires this June following his initial two-year stay at Pride Park from when he signed in 2022.  

Derby County are yet to announce their retained list of players for the 2024/25 campaign, with fans speculating on who will stay at the club following promotion to the Championship.