FTYBR BLOG: Miss World and her Ugly Sister
It is 10 long years since the last ever issue of the Stags fanzine, Follow the yellow brick road. During those times I, as former editor, have had repeated request to bring it back into circulation. Each time I have pondered the idea but the realisation that the days of a paper-based fans eye view are long gone convinced me that although good in theory, the actual practise would be a bad idea.
“Do a blog thing Steve!” “Nar!” was my reply to bring FTYBR into the computer age. Let things be. But then a long awaited trip to Mardy Lane, where I stood with the lifeblood of this wonderful football club, its supporters, reignited my enthusiasm to once more share my thoughts, my joys and my worries. I have been extremely lucky over the years to be part of the press here at Mansfield. 22 years since I wrote my first ever match report for the Observer, Stags 2-1 defeat away at Newcastle United. Since then I have co-authored a book, been on Mansfield 103.2, wrote for the Observer and Nottingham Football Post, been on TV and after taking a year off, I am pleased to say, I am back in the welcome arms of StagsPlayer with Martin Shaw and Nigel Pinnick.
Will this be a weekly thing? Well, anyone who remembers the fanzine, will tell you, plans never went to, well plan. I will try my best to provide a slightly different view on the previous 7 days in the life of Mansfield Town. Some of it you may agree with, some of it, you may not. I will though hope to provide you all with an emotion filled ride that I hope will have you laughing, crying, agreeing, disagreeing and discussing.
Here we go again....
After the 1-1 draw with Curle’s Carlisle and the expected but still desponding defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, there were not many Staggies expecting anything positive from our trip to Mardly Lane. Now before anything else, I started calling it Mardy Lane whilst doing my weekly bit for the Notts Football Post. They hated it, I knew they did, so I used it as often as I could. ‘Banter’ they call it nowadays, taking the p**** it was called back then. Anyway, like I said, not many expected a great deal. Counteh had signed 478 players who had been released by Nockabongo United reverves XI and they had surprisingly settled in well earning two very decent results. It all ended up in their fans and it seems certain players, having a total disregard for our chances, which ultimately played right into Murray’s hands.
For a Stags supporter who likes a moan, the build up was just as you would like it to be. At first I bemoaned the fact that they had changed the game to a Friday night as I knew it would have an effect on our away following and secondly the price of the matchday ticket!! £24.00 for a League 2 game, even in this day and age, was pushing it to say the very least. It didn’t matter to Counteh and their fans though as OAP home tickets, (90% of turnover) were cheaper and of course they were guaranteed a decent home following with the OAP’s having to be took into the game by their Carers. All of whom were clearly carrying packs of incontinence pads, rubber gloves and plastic aprons. Little did I know at the time, that the outnumbered Staggies would provide an atmosphere that would live long in the memory of every person inside Mardy Lane cheering on for the team in amber and blue.
Before the game, there was the traditional trip to Hooters. We’d parked just over the bridge and due to the fact that middle age has decided to spread to the midsection area of my body, I puffed and panted my way behind our little travelling group like the out of breath Rhino on the film Jumanji. I was happy enough once inside, more happy it has to be said then the scantily dressed young Ladies that were running around with food orders. They all looked as if the whole experience was a clammy trip to the dentist. Mind you the inbreeds were in town and they were probably worried about a 6 fingered hand slapping their bum!
We’d settled into our seats before the dancing and singing that went off around the under-stand bars, but the tension was building. There was a party brewing; a party that erupted by the time the teams came out. 2,800 Stags fans and you would have thought there were 10,000. It clearly helped the players, especially Rose who swung his arms towards the crowd, helping conduct the frenzy. With cries of ‘Yellows’ shacking the very foundations of Mardly Lane and a spluttering sample of yellow smoke (love um or hate um,) there was a sense that there was only one team and one set of supporters that would end the night dribbling with glee.
Now there are enough match reports to explain our wonderful 2-0 win, but safe to say for us following Mansfield it was a night to remember for all the right reasons. Who knows what this season will eventually give us, but that night we all felt like champions. Two games in, although the rest of the league had only played the one, Mansfield Town were top of the league and we were all savouring the moment. The after game, on pitch celebrations from the players and staff were a sight to behold. The punching of chests, the clenching of the badge, although at times, cringe material (Premiership stars) filled us all with pride and passion. I hugged everyone around me like a tearful moment from Surprise, Surprise. Heaven was indeed a place on Earth and that place was the away end at Mardy Lane.
My weekly bit will in future have my honest opinion about the players on view the previous week. Some players may like what I say, some no doubt will not. But football is all about opinions. This time, the game away at Counteh, I could not fault one single player in the amber shirt. I thought Greenie was a powerhouse. Some have said that they didn’t think he had an outstanding game, I thought he did his job with a touch of class, held it up well, played the right ball and gave the Counteh centre halfs a night of dread. Note also to the Beast. It has been a while since I have had such confidence in someone between our sticks, but the sheer experience and frame gave him an edge over whatever Notts threw at him, which wasn’t a lot really, as Colin Slater would say, “Counteh didn’t score any Girls and Mansfield won by two Girls to none!” Jensen commanded his area like a true Danish king. Like I said, each and every player played their part and I thank them for that.
However, Tuesday and the trip to the Wham stadium was just like being trapped in a toilet with one of the said, ‘Wham’ stars, if you get my meaning? Murray stated there would be no diminishing of our Stags players endeavours and although things started brightly there would be little or no show of the passion and football we’d seen previous. By god it hurt. I listened to Dean and Stevo on 103.2 and you could feel the frustration and felt sorry for them. I was once told that when doing commentaries you have to talk up a bowl of custard, well this sounded more like custard powder and someone had forgot the milk. I suppose we should have known really, such is our lot as Mansfield fans, when you expect too much, you mainly get bugger all. No doubt the players were hurt after the defeat, but in a way you can’t blame them too much. Friday was like going on a date with Miss World, Tuesday was like having to take out her ugly sister! You’d go all the way with one, but couldn’t get away quick enough from the other.
I honestly think this season we have a side capable of giving us all something the cheer about and I suppose you have to expect the odd below par performance, but not too many please lads? The difference between Friday and Tuesday could not have been any wider and certainly made me sit my bum down and calm down a bit. (I’d got us down as champions and with a late entry into the UEFA Cup group stages by Saturday morning).
This weekend we welcome Oxford United to our humble home. A football club full of past glories and a side who after reading their message boards, think they will win with ease and we will just knock their players about like Wreck it Ralph. I hope that the Stags players have learned the ugly sister lesson, not every lass is a stunner, sometimes you just have to put up with the odd minger and make the most of it. (If you have to play with Miss Ugly do what you have to do and get on with it, we won’t tell your mates! Bite the bullet and get the job done).
Three points at home to Oxford would be the perfect way of repainting the smudge of Tuesday but remember we all have to play our part. Sing, dance and support the Stags onto more days of glory.
Latest | August 2015