Coming Home – interview with author Ollie Wright

Coming Home – interview with author Ollie Wright

Coming Home is the third book from Derby County Blogger, and RamsTrust Board member, Ollie Wright. Read our review of Coming Home here. Below, Ollie gives an insight into the writing of Coming Home.

When did you first have the idea for writing Coming Home?

After ‘Clowesure’ ensured the club’s rescue from the brink of liquidation, I had it in mind that I wanted to put something out that covered the period of administration and the build-up to it. The title refers to the classic Skinner & Baddiel song, prompted after England made it all the way to the delayed Euro 2020 final, but also helped me to bring in the element of my own return to the East Midlands, after two decades away. There was a link between England trying to bring it home, but not quite managing it and me sort-of ‘coming home’, but not quite, in that we moved to Leicester and not Derby. Then there was the fact that the club itself was on its knees at the time and so I was back at Pride Park, but for some time, couldn’t even buy a season ticket. It soon became clear that Derby County was in very grave danger of ceasing to exist.

How difficult was it to open up on the impact of administration on your mental health?

First and foremost, I think it’s important to stress that this is a book about Derby County, not a self-help book or ‘tell-all’ autobiography. However, from my perspective, it was impossible to write a book about the Rams in crisis without also exploring more personal themes, simply because of the depth of feeling that I have for the club and the way that being a Derby County fan is so deeply interwoven into the fabric of my life.

During the administration saga, many Derby fans were opening up about their feelings much more than they would have done previously. A lot of us couldn’t help but talk about how much it hurt and scared us to contemplate a future without our club. I polled fans on Twitter (as it was called then) and was really surprised and alarmed by how many hundreds of people admitted that, yes, the Derby County crisis had affected their mental health. In many cases, significantly. 

I was extremely fortunate to have an amazing community around me via the Derby County Blog Patreon and we all supported each other as much as we could, sometimes by sharing bits of gossip, other times with gallows humour, but mostly just by being at the other end of the messages.

These were not normal times, and it was traumatic to experience the threat of losing our club. Because of that, it felt unavoidable that as well as writing about what was happening on and off the field, I would also write about my Dad, who is a South Stand nutter and my oldest son, Gene, who is five now and so old enough to express an interest, if not to sit still for an entire game. I’d always assumed that he would come with me to Derby games when he was old enough, so what would happen if there were no games to take him to? Was I supposed to take him to see Leicester? It just didn’t bear thinking about. 

I also found myself writing on Patreon about the breakdown that I suffered during this period. That was chiefly attributable to work-related stress, but the hovering threat of Derby’s potential extinction did not help. Not one iota. There were some dark times, and I am profoundly lucky that I had the support of family and friends to help me get through to the other side and start to recover. Some of those experiences inevitably made their way into the book. 

It is not easy to open up and clearly most people wouldn’t do that to the extent of including some of their mental health struggles in a published book. Some people would rather I just ‘stick to football’, I’m sure, but if even one person feels encouraged to talk to their friends and family about how they are feeling after reading it, then it’s worth it as far as I’m concerned.  

What were the biggest challenges writing the book?

With two young children in my life, I’m much more time-poor than I was while I was writing the material that turned into the two volumes of Tens & Nervous. Out of necessity, I started to write in bursts on the train to and from games and during the half-time intervals. Writing at half-time was good, because I’ve never liked being on the concourse at Pride Park and refuse to pay silly money for bad food and beer, so this gave me something productive to do while I waited for the games to start again. 

Have you won your battle to convince Gene to support Derby over Leicester?

I very much hope so, with the help of my friend Will’s kids, who are a little older than him and massive Derby fans.

I recently polled the fans on X and found that the vast majority started going to games between the ages of six and ten years. So, he is rapidly approaching what I hope will be his ‘Golden Age’ of Derby County-related enlightenment and indoctrination. However, the other night, I let him stay up to watch the first half of Derby v Lincoln City with me and he was bored senseless within half an hour. I think he was actually relieved when his Mum told him it was time for bed…

Are there any plans for future books on the Rams?

Definitely, but my current pet project is a novel, which takes its cues from the madness that unfolded at Derby under Mel Morris but imagines a chairman who chose a different and more radical way of reacting to the financial insanity of today’s Championship. I’m releasing draft extracts weekly on Patreon and hope that the discipline of publishing 1,000 words per week will keep me going with it.

I will keep blogging, chiefly on Patreon these days, for as long as anybody is there to read it and I hope that content will give me the raw materials for new DCFC books in the future. Whether I do a 2020s version of Tens & Nervous, we will have to wait and see at the end of this decade… 

Where will Derby County be in 2030, six years from now? I have absolutely no idea. In my heart, I still can’t help but hope that we are in the Premier League by then, but the realities and inequities of modern football make that a massive challenge, even for a club with our huge fanbase. At least, however, we can be reasonably certain that the club will still exist, which is something that I had always taken entirely for granted until Mel Morris came along. Now we are a bit closer to at least getting back to the Championship under the stewardship of David Clowes and, in these calm waters, we have the luxury and privilege of just worrying about the actual football. 

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