Dismal Derby take Cats' sad place in the record books

THANK heaven for desperately poor Derby County!

The East Midlands side rode to the rescue of Sunderland's shameful Premier League relegation record this season.

And as they exited the top flight with barely double figures to their name, the Rams took with them a whole raft of records which set new highs in top-flight lows.

For Sunderland fans it must be a relief to know that from next season, they don't have to face articles in newspapers and on televison musing about under-achieving teams "potentially challenging Sunderland's all-time lowest points total of just 15."

Previously, Sunderland supporters had had to endure a couple of seasons of commentators reflecting about under-achieving teams "potentially challenging the Wearsiders' all-time lowest points total of just 19."

But the 15-point total from 2005/06, especially coming so soon after the 19, took things to new depths for Sunderland's devastated supporters.

The two worst ever Premiership campaigns, separated only by a couple of seasons, made Sunderland not only synonymous with yo-yoing but also with abject failure.

That has changed now with the arrival and success of Niall Quinn and Roy Keane.

The two Irishmen have changed the whole complexion of the club with an inspiring drive to promotion followed by achieving Premiership safety.

Now they are looking to drive on and see Sunderland recognised once again as a proud and established top-flight side.

And that process will be aided over the next few seasons by the fact that Sunderland's name will no longer be dragged out every time there is a feature on Premier League catastrophe clubs.

The most significant stat of course is "11 points" – the Derby tally which finally puts Sunderland's 15 and 19 points to bed.

But the Rams had other claims to fame – or infamy.

Not only did they produce the lowest points total in the Premier League's history, they were also the side relegated earliest in the competition.

Sunderland's relegation had been confirmed with a 0-0 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford on April 14, 2005.

Derby's came a full fortnight earlier after a 2-2 draw against Fulham on March 29.

Derby also conceded more goals in a Premier League season than any other – a staggering 89!

That included conceding six goals four times, five goals twice and four goals on three occasions.

Having scored only 20 goals in the campaign – another league low – and had a goal difference of minus 69.

Other notable stats were failing to get a league win in their last 32 games, which included new manager Paul Jewell not taking a win in his first 24 games in charge – garnering just five points from a possible 72.

Derby's disaster is Sunderland's good fortune.

For not only did it take away the Black Cats' worst records, it also threw up one statistic worth fans chuckling over: Which was the only team in the league to be beaten by the worst team in Premiership history?

I'll let you work that one out yourselves.