Argyle’s 1-1 draw at Grimsby Town on the final day of the Sky Bet League Two campaign saw south-coast rivals Portsmouth pip the Pilgrims to the title on goal-difference.
Despite the season’s dramatic denouement, the Pilgrims’ manager was far from disappointed.
“I’m delighted,” said Derek, as players celebrated the conclusion of a successful season with nearly 2,000 members of the Green Army who had travelled to Blundell Park.
“To get Plymouth Argyle promoted into League One was our main aim at the start of the season and it is a fantastic achievement for so many people at this football club.
“We obviously would have liked to win the title, and to lose on goal-difference is very difficult to take, but credit to Portsmouth – they have been able to pip ourselves to the title.
“They are a very well supported football club, as well. They have put a very good run together and they deserve to be champions; they are at the top of the pile because they have scored more goals than Plymouth – they haven’t got more points, but have scored more goals.
“We’ve really moved the football club on. To finish second in the league, we are delighted with. We are delighted that two well supported clubs are getting promoted to League One – and a lot of other League One clubs will be, as well.
“The players have been absolutely outstanding. We are delighted with the season we have had.
"At the start of the season, if we had said that we would finish in second position, we would have taken it – the plan was to get promoted out of this division – but, come the last game of the season, to be in the position we were, we wanted to try to win the title. We came up a few goals short.”
Derek paid tribute to the club’s fans, who stayed behind long after the game’s final whistle to greet the Argyle manager and his players.
“They never surprise me,” he said. “They travel with us all over the season and they have had a lot of great days. They have supported for many years, through thick and thin, and they’ll continue to do so.
“The supporters have waited until well after the game and it is a great day for them. They have seen us get promoted out of this division and we have all celebrated getting back to League One together.”
The celebrations will not stop for a few more days, either. On Monday, Britain’s Ocean City becomes Britain’s Promotion City as the Plymouth hosts a civic reception to honour the club, and that will be followed by a Promotion Party at Plymouth Pavilions.
Derek said: “Monday night is going to be a terrific occasion for the football club. We’ve got a civic reception and then we go to the Pavilions and we’ll have a good night with the staff and players, and families and supporters.
“We have made so many people happy this year and it’s been a fantastic season. We have had the FA Cup run, going to Liverpool, but over the league season, to finish on the points total we have – we have done better than we did last year and we’ve been able to get ourselves into the next league.”