MANY seasons ago Derby had a player in their side who was not the most gifted of players, but had determination grit and leadership. Darryl Powell, who became a bit of a cult hero for Jim Smith’s Rams!
Today, another player has taken over that mantle. Step forward Jake Buxton!
A few seasons ago he was a centre half at Mansfield Town and his career was somewhat stalling. Often on the end of criticism from Stags fans, he moved on to Burton Albion after a loan stint with Alfreton Town.
A drop into non-league at that stage of a player’s career often is an indication that they are in a downward spiral and they will before long be looking for a day job.
Fortunately, Buxton found himself at an improving Burton Albion led by Nigel Clough. The move rejuvenated his career and he was an important part of the squad that eventually claimed league status.
When Nigel Clough took over the reins at Derby, one of his early signings was Jake Buxton. The addition of Buxton raised a few eyebrows to say the least.
It wasn’t an easy transformation for him. From Conference level to Championship and early games for the Rams presented a new challenge and learning curb for the defender.
It was last season when he really made a mark. After struggling with injuries he had made a few cameo appearances coming off the bench. Then when Shaun Barker suffered a serious injury in the East Midlands Derby, Buxton replaced him. Not only doing a decent job in the middle of defence but he went on to score the winner.
Jake has had to be patient and take his chance in the team when it has come. This season saw Mark O’Brien suffer injury and again Buxton has stepped up to the mark. He has scored five goals which for a defender is a good return and more than some strikers have managed.
Here is a player who knows his own limitations, but through determination and dedication, he has won over the fans and has become something of a cult hero.
It’s a lesson to other more gifted players that at the end of the day commitment is priceless. You never get anything less than 100 per cent from Jake Buxton.