1990 to 1999
DERBY CITY RLFC was formed in 1990 by Richard Dixon, Paul Crowe and Tony Wheeler in the Blessington pub, Derby with just the three of them holding the first training session at the Moorways Stadium a week later. Paul Crowe went on to become Derby's first coach and the first home games were played on the council pitch at Marketon Park. Early in its history the club nearly tasted success at St Ives, finishing a close second in the St Ives Sevens. Derby City went on to win the East Midlands Championship in season 1998/9 and in the summer of 1999 was invited to join the fledgling Rugby League Conference along side just 19 other teams.
With the phenomenal growth of Rugby League across the country the Conference now stretches across the whole of England and Wales from Carlisle to Kent, from Newcastle to Cornwall.
1999 to 2007
1999 was a momentous year for Derby City as, thanks to the foresight of head coach Ray Wilson, it was accepted into the first season proper of the Rugby League Conference. The players had to go straight from a full winter season, from which they emerged as Midlands Champions, into the summer conference which consisted of four pools of five teams. Derby moved into the Northern Pool, and the prospect of facing the formidable Manchester Knights and Chester Wolves who drew on teams such as Shawe and Crossfields for their players.
The team lost the first game 26 - 2 to cross Conference side Birmingham Bulls and Martin Kent, just turned 17, was the scorer of the first Conference points. This was followed by a 6 – 18 loss to Worcester at the club’s new home of Moorways Sports Centre but Richard Nunn could claim the proud ownership of the first RLC try. The going then got a lot tougher with 6 – 48 and 4 – 42 loses to Manchester and Chester but stand out players were the experienced forwards Dean Hanley, Mark Andrews and Simon Attwood, with Darron and Gavin Morrissey keeping the midfield ticking and Nigel Lindsay with perfect technique solid in defence. Success finally came at Crewe with an 18 – 20 effort and Derby completed the double later in the season 30 – 3. Jon Cartlidge was top try scorer that year and was invited with Martin Kent to join the GB training squad.
Season 2000 saw the addition of Rotherham Giants to the pool which unfortunately only resulted in 20 – 0 and 4 – 30 losses and Derby managed only the double over Crewe all season. The team also suffered the indignity of being held scoreless on four outings against Chester and Manchester and a record low of only 90 points for the season. On the positive side, Gavin Morrissey maintained his position as the midfield creator, Jon Cartlidge continued to improve and Chris Buckley made the full back position his own and started his impressive collection of Man of the Match awards.
In 2001 Worcester fell by the wayside and John Beaman took over as head coach. Chester, Manchester and Rotherham still proved too tough to crack but cross Conference games against Sunderland and Kingston on Thames together with old rivals Crewe were the highlights of the season despite providing the Wolves with their first ever double.
The first serious work in schools began and although the team changed week to week the backbone still came from Gavin Morrissey, Jon Cartlidge, Harry Chmiel, Anslem Robinson and Chris Buckley with Adam Millward now becoming the main go-to man. Paul Shuttleworth also joined the team this year from St Helen’s academy and between red and yellow cards terrorised the opposition for two seasons before dodgy knees forced his retirement.
The club moved to the Asterdale for season 2002 and for the first time had players competing for positions. John Beaman’s hard work improved the team’s focus but City still suffered its record loss of 72 – 0 to Rotherham. The team did however progress in the play-offs that year beating Newcastle Knights 44 – 26 with Liam McNelis providing the spark and Neil “Norman” Collier rock solid in defence.
Dave Lawson took over as coach for the 2003 season and Derby entered a whole new pool with Crewe, Mansfield, Nottingham, Rotherham and Worksop. New playing kit was provided by ex-player Andy tankard and his company “Work it Out” and Brad Davis of Wakefield Trinity made the presentation. Despite only three wins, Derby finally got the points against total below three hundred and finished with a difference of minus 87. The highlight of the season was the 38 – 30 defeat of Rotherham missing out on the double only by a 79th minute try as Graham Mallinson and Mick Mead started to make their presence felt in the team.
2004 began with the work done in schools starting to produce results as yr7 teams from Lees Brook, St Benedict’s and Derby Moor competed against each other and the Lees Brook team went on to reach the last 16 of the Powergen Champion Schools competition losing to Marsden Bridge at Odsal. Results started to come for the open age team with doubles over Worksop and Hillsborough Hawks and a best ever 5 wins in a season and only a tiny negative points difference. Anslem Robinson became Derby City’s first full international when he was chosen to represent the West Indies and a highly successful festival was held for junior schools in the city.
The North Midlands pool moved geographically once again in 2005 with Lincoln and Thorne Moore joining, the latter providing some of the toughest and most thrilling games Derby had been involved in. The “Ripley Raiders” Richard Blagg, Lee Chapman, Jon Sharpe, Rob Harrison and Jamie Fowkes continued to provide a solid base for the team and Derby started the season with wins against Mansfield, Thorne Moore and Sheffield to top the table for the first time. This was followed by a two point loss to Lincoln but wins against Worksop, Rotherham and Mansfield kept City at the top after eight games and the Minor Premiers was clinched with a thrilling 23 – 21 win at Thorne. Unfortunately the hat trick against Thorne in the play-offs was just a step too far for the team and they lost 28 – 16.
Derby City moved up to the Midlands Premier division for season 2006 and despite Lee Marsden, experienced as both a coach and player at the top level, joining as head coach numbers at training fell and a thin Derby side narrowly lost to Telford on the opening day. Nottingham were the team to beat in that season and Derby lost at home but gained a handsome win at Moderns with the team committed to expansive football and wingers Darren Hersey and Richard Blagg starring in a fine team effort. The season ended in mid table respectability with five wins out of 12.
Gavin Morrissey retired for the third and final time for the 2007 season but the half back pairing was ably filled by Steve Dabin and Darren Hersey who moved to full back later in the season to fill the slot left by Chris Buckley on wedding leave. Veterans Harry Chmiel, Russ Dixon, Iain Powell and Neil Collier continued to keep the team moving forward from the front and brothers Mike and James Turner built on the promise of the previous season. Constant changes however made the going hard especially against a revitalised Coventry despite the excellent fitness engineered by new head coach Martyn Rothwell. City finished the season with six wins from 14 and an outstanding tally of 144 points from centre Ben Thornton with 11 tries and 50 goals the personal highlight of the season.
2007 also saw the appointment of James Lewis as Community Sports Coach for Rugby League and the work in schools took on a whole new dimension. Derby competed in a total of seven festivals at u11, u13 and u15 with the final festival of the year on the last day of the Asterdale as a rugby venue having teams from 11 clubs competing on four pitches.
2008 to present
In 2008 the Asterdale closed forcing a move of ground. Despite big things being expected with the move to the state of the art facilities at Derby Rugby Union, players melted away and Derby City withdrew mid-season from the Midlands Premier League but continued with junior development and fielding junior teams.
The club re-emerged in 2011 with a new management committee and new coaches co-ordinated by Grant Hunter. An influx of new players in 2013 allowed Derby City to regularly field a merit team which competes in the Midlands Merit League.
In 2014 Jon Doughty was selected to represent the Midlands in a two game tour of Russia and in that year the Merit Team were losing Grand Finalists. In 2015 Eric Robinson received the prestigious RFL Young Player of the Year award for his coaching work at all levels and Jon Doughty and Adam Walker were chosen to represent the Midlands on a tour to Greece. After a successful year on the field the First Team were losing Grand Finalists.
In 2016 the club is still thriving in the Midlands Premier Division thanks to the commitment of team manager Jon Doughty, the new coaching team and a move to Ilkeston RUFC based at The Stute.