Dave Child* is a fan of the old school. Burton Albion through and through – ‘who are Derby County?’, he asks when pressed on the competing attractions of other local teams – he was among the 11,000 travelling fans who made Old Trafford less of a library than usual for a cup replay. And he’s an epxert on the pies served at football grounds and hostelries that welcome away fans (if you;’re going, scroll down to see which one Dave thinks you’d enjoy).
And what was he doing with Paolo Di Canio? Interviewing him for local radio when PDC was Swindon manager and they played Burton…
Salut! Sunderland: stuck with us in the relegation zone, Burton would probably be expected to struggle even if neutrals would love them to survive. How is it looking for you?
Dave Child: yes we are in our usual position and not really surprised, the aim as we head towards the festive fixtures is to stay out of the bottom three, then come January Cloughie can work his miracles in the loan market bringing in Gareth Bale and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and make a late charge for the play offs!
Nigel Clough would have been the choice of quite a few Sunderland supporters. You have had some useful managers over recent years including Rowett and Hasselbaink; what is your assessment of him?
A legend at Burton. Would he be a good choice for Sunderland, who knows? But Cloughie built his reputation at Burton starting as player manager, he and his staff were instrumental in putting Burton on the football map. A promotion to the Conference set us on the way, he departed with the team top of the division with a massive points advantage and went to championship rivals Derby.
We are pleased he came back and led us into the championship, and our new ground our reputation, and our continued progress started with Nigel and is still on going, he works with what he has without complaint and has that rare quality of loyality and a supportive chairman.
And with such a tiny stadium, can you realisticaly hope to progress further than the lower reaches of the Championship? How good a chairman is Ben Robinson?
As for our “tiny stadium” as you call it, careful here boys! Our stadium was perfect for the support we have but suddenly we were punching above our weight and the Championship surroundings make it look small in comparison.
Could we ever progress higher, the Premier League? Well to be honest, we never imagined playing in the Championship, so in our eyes we have already reached and exceeded all the heights. As for the chairman its all been said before, a Burton man through and through who has guided the club over the years and made important decisions at the right time, possibly the most popular chairman in the Championship, certainly more than yours …… Whoops …..
Logical follow-up question: how much does the Pirelli mean to you and do you think the club and town could sustai a move to a bigger-capacity ground?
The Pirelli, the “Rubber dome” or “Theatre Of Rubber”, call it what you will, is our home and means the world to us, lots of memories, mostly good, and perhaps our home for the next umpteen years. Would we ever need a bigger ground? Not in my lifetime unless we see a population explosion in Burton on Trent!
Were you among the famous 11,000 at Old Trafford in 2006 and if so, what was that experience like?
I was proud to be one of the 11k at Old Trafford in 2006 but in a professional capacity. At that time I was a commentator for local commercial radio, Centre FM. It was an incredible experience to describe my team facing the might Man U, and to have the opportunity to interview the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
The two games against the Red Devils put a then non-league club on a sound financial footing for several years, not that we have ever had any debt. Unfortunately that cannot be said of Sunderland!
Other highlghts of your support for the Brewers?
My highlights apart from the Manchester United games are many, but winning the Conference and promotion to the Football League are the stand out ones.
And lowest points?
The lowest points are probably every time we have reached a milestone, missing my dad to share the moment with; sadly, he died on September 20 2004, ironically the same day as Nigel Clough’s dad Brian passed away.
I suppose Derby are your main local rivals and historically you’ve had to accept some locals supporting them. Is that less so now you’re in the same division?
Who are Derby? We took four points out of six from the win-nothing Rams last season!
We are having to get used to new faces in this league (our own new recruits included) but who are your best performers and where are you weak?
Jackson Irvine was our best performer but he has now left, but for me this season Lucas Akins is the stand out man, but we badly need a goal scoring striker.
Best players you’ve seen in Burton colours?
Best players for me Darren Stride, the most committed clubman ever, and Daryl Clare, easily the best striker in non-league at the time, quality.
Guy Branston was bloody awful, made Gary Crosby look quality
Hand on heart where will our two clubs finish this season?
Hopefully higher up than we currently are! But realistically Burton can again beat the drop, so 4th or 5th bottom would be ok. As for Sunderland, your target is also staying in the division. But I can see you finishing a couple of places above Burton if the players you have perform to their potential.
Did you see our massive decline coming? Any other thoughts on Sunderland?
The writing has been on the wall for many years. Sunderland badly need stability both in the boardroom and for team management. Everything else is great, fans, stadium, the lot.
Are diving and other forms of cheating more prevalent at this level than in League One and how best do we tackle them?
Simple point “diving” or cheating in the Football League is much worse than we ever experienced in non-league, the higher you go in the football league the worse it gets.
And your view of refereeing standards?
Too often a game is dominated by a referee, not the teams playing. No consistency leads to a lack of respect for officials, some are good and some are Keith Stroud, what a joke, you will love this Sunderland fans, he gave Newcastle a penalty against Burton last season at St James’ Park, Ritchie took it and scored, Stroud ruled the goal out and gave Burton a free kick for encroachment, ha ha ha thanks Keith, what a muppet.
Are there Burton pubs that a) welcome away fans and b) serve a good pint of local beer?
Sunderland fans go to the Beech, on Derby Road, just five minutes walk to the Pirelli and officially an away fans’ pub, brilliant landlord and landlady will make you all most welcome……enjoy a lovely pint.
Will you be at our game and what will be te score
I will be at the match as always. So what’s the score going to be? Two-one to the Brewers all the way…
* Dave Child on himself: As for me, Brewers fan all my life, first watched as an 11-year-old and free prescriptions next birthday so a long time. Many years as a local radio commentator and a featured on a host of Brewers films and videos, frequent host of Q & A nights, and currently on the Touch FM Breakfast show Mondays and Friday as “Pieman” reviewing the pies at away grounds and adding banter about the brewers. Enjoy the game everybody.
Interview: Colin Randall