Football is a game of opinions, and they have been littered everywhere around Pride Park in the last eight days after what the club described as a ‘alcohol related incident’ involving Tom Lawrence, Mason Bennett and club captain Richard Keogh, the latter suffering a potential career ending injury in the process.
I am sure anybody reading this will be aware of the recent misdemeanours of certain squad members but for those without an internet connection in the last week, here’s a recap of recent events.
Derby had organised a team bonding bowling session followed by a meal out last Tuesday, in which most squad members enjoyed themselves and left around 8pm in club arranged cars. A small minority however, decided to stay out a little longer.
Not a crime, no. But what happened shortly afterwards was however. Welsh international Tom Lawrence and homegrown winger Mason Bennett drove away from the venue, along with captain Richard Keogh as passenger, clearly above the legal drink-drive limit. We all know what happened next.
Derby appeared to handle the situation very well, stripping Keogh of the captaincy and handing it to veteran midfielder Tom Huddlestone before ironically stripping him of the captaincy a day later due to his involvement in videoing the nights events.
Chairman Mel Morris admirably walked around Pride Park Stadium at Saturday's home victory against Birmingham City, publicly apologising for the actions of those players who represent his football club. Lawrence, Bennett and Keogh, for obvious reasons, were not involved in the first team squad, much to the joy of Rams fans.
I, for one, was almost happy with the club;s handling of the incident up until that point, and thought that the lack of involvement of the trio was more than justified, in fact a lengthy absence from the first-team fold would be a more than suitable punishment from a club perspective.
Call me old school, but I would have fined the players involved the maximum fine available and forced Bennett and Lawrence to train with the U23’s for a couple of months, whilst the investigations rumbled on and the dust settled.
In fact, if I am totally honest my initial reaction was to sack all involved, and maybe that was a little overreaction, however I know what would happen to me in my industry should I have been caught over the limit.
However after Mel’s actions, a positive result on Saturday and another Chris Martin goal, all seemed to be moving in a positive direction for the football club.
This was until Wednesday night at Oakwell however.
The Rams made the short journey north up the M1 to face Championship newcomers Barnsley, with expectations rising after Phillip Cocu’s first home victory on Saturday.
All of positive work the club had accomplished over the last week, and the positivity flowing around soon diminished after the starting lineup were announced.
Fans could barely believe the sight of disgraced winger Tom Lawrence in the starting lineup and equally the naming of Bennett on the substitutes bench.
The DCFC Twitter timeline erupted, and rightly so in my opinion. A recall to the team was inevitable at some point judging by the statements made by the football club over the course of the previous week, and most people including myself where getting used to the idea that we would indeed see Lawrence and Bennett in a Rams shirt again, like it or not.
What most of the fan base did not want, was to see them appearing so soon after the incident, especially before the Police investigation had concluded.
The kind of message it delivers to the younger members of the squad, to the fans and more importantly young supporters who idolise these players as role models is completely incorrect in my opinion.
It feels for me, that you can commit a very serious offence and there is no punishment from the employer.
I know for sure if it was me behind the wheel of the Range Rover or Mercedes then it would be a totally different story for the company I work for, and I would soon find myself down the local job centre.
Now I must stress again making sacking them was an overreaction, maybe it wasn’t, it is all again down to opinions but these players have seemingly received no punishment. Other than Richard Keogh, who’s punishment seems to be the end of his Derby career at least.
I am angry with the football club that I love. I know Mel and Cocu will have their reasons and they can choose any player they wish to represent their football club after all, but they have disappointed a lot of Derby fans on Wednesday night.
Amongst the anger I am bitterly disappointed also. The football club that I fell in love with at an early age has let me down.
I am struggling to make a connection with the football club and the team at the minute, and I have to question the morals of the club by allowing two drink drivers represent the badge I adore so soon after a very serious road traffic collision fuelled by alcohol.
The trio, should Keogh ever represent the club on the field again which again is doubtful, will have an uphill task to win over the Derby County fan base and I am not convinced they will ever win me over.