Local hero Matt Derbyshire will be following the fortunes of two of his former clubs tomorrow night from the warmth of the Cypriot capital Nicosia, with his new club riding high in the table.
Having recently signed for Omonia Nicosia - managed by former Newcastle boss John Carver - he’s enjoying finding the back of the net with a regularity that will be fondly remembered by those who remember his arrival on the professional stage at Ewood Park… a far cry from his first role at the club where he was expected to clean the toilets at the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre!
As he recalls in tomorrow night’s ‘Blue & White’ matchday programme, his first task as a Blackburn Rovers employee was to work as a junior coach with the community department, which came with a couple of less glamorous additional roles to perform. Within months, however, the then 17-year-old was propelled to stardom by signing for Rovers’ senior squad from semi-professional Great Harwood Town in November 2003.
His career path has since taken him to a varied selection of clubs including Greek giants Olympiacos and names closer to home like Birmingham City, Rotherham United and tomorrow night’s opponents Nottingham Forest, before switching to the top flight in Cyprus this summer.
He has certainly gone to the right place to keep his scoring touch in top form, having netted with unerring accuracy in the opening three months of the new campaign. Two goals in Europa League qualifiers and five in his first four league games propelled him to the top of the country’s scoring charts, and he admits:
“It’s been a great experience so far and it’s going well. I’ve had a really good start to my football life out here and I’m pleased to have scored seven goals so far in all competitions.”
Derbyshire says it won’t be hard to follow the action between his former clubs despite being over 2,700 miles from home, given the huge status the game occupies in his current home. He added:
“I still know guys at my former clubs and I follow the lads at Blackburn and Forest really closely; I’m the same with my other clubs like Birmingham and Blackpool too; everyone that I’ve played for.
“I’m still a Blackburn fan as I’ve always been, so I’m always keeping an eye on the games. You can follow everything in Cyprus, with matches televised from all over the world because they’re so passionate about their football.
“It’s not a problem to catch games out here and I’ll be keeping an eye out on Tuesday night for how we get on.”
You can read more about Matt’s memories of his early days at Ewood Park by picking up a copy of ‘Blue & White’ ahead of Blackburn Rovers v Nottingham Forest, priced at just £3 from sellers outside the stadium and concourse vending outlets.