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Archived News from May 2022

28th May 2022 0:03

Boss: Stags in buoyant mood ahead of Wembley
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Manager Nigel Clough says his squad is in a ‘buoyant’ mood ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Port Vale in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final.

The Stags have enjoyed a fantastic campaign so far, finishing seventh in the division, and defeated fourth placed Northampton Town in the play-off semi-final to book a place at Wembley.

Saturday’s opponents, Port Vale, booked their place in the final in dramatic fashion with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory over Swindon Town.


The two sides are now set to meet in the capital this weekend with a place in League One the prize for the victors.

And Mansfield boss Nigel Clough insists his squad are focussing solely on winning.

“It's been a long 10 months to work towards this, so we just want to perform somewhere near our best on Saturday,” said the manager.

“I haven't seen too much of them [the players], but I think it's buoyant [the mood] and when you get a victory in the semi-final, then you can't wait for Saturday.

“It’s going to be a good day if we get a result. We're not going there for anything other than that.

“You have to separate yourself from people going down for a weekend and having a great day out. We're going to Wembley for work, nothing else, just work.”

The former England international insisted that the whole squad will need to be ready.

“It's going to be a difficult team to pick and to try to get the balance right. But whatever the starting 11 is, subs will come on at Wembley as it is such an energy-sapping arena, so we'll need everybody.”

Speaking about Saturday’s opponents he said: “We haven't beaten them, that’s one thing. We played incredibly well against them at home, got a 1-1 draw, however, really dominated the game, missed a penalty, and couldn't get that winning goal, and then made a couple of errors in the game away from home.

“I think they have very similar tools and they've done incredibly well to get to Wembley.”

Despite many highs, the season has had its lows. In October, Mansfield sat second from bottom and the boss praised the unity of the club to turn the season around.

“Keeping everybody together and everybody sticking together in that run, from the owners all the way down through the supporters [was a reason in the upturn in results].

“I think it would have been very easy for them [the squad] to turn on each other, and that didn’t happen.”

When asked about the magnitude of this game, the Stags’ chief reiterated the significance of the encounter.

“It's more than just another game, it has to be.

“We have one opportunity to try and achieve our ambition that we set out to do at the start of the season.

“Once you get to this point, all you want to do is win that last game.”


Nigel Clough: Mansfield's League Two play-off final 'not just a Wembley day out'

Boss Nigel Clough says there will "nervous tension" as he leads Mansfield Town out at Wembley in an attempt to return the Stags to the third tier for the first time in 19 years.

They face Port Vale in the League Two play-off final on Saturday.

Clough said a trip to the national stadium is "rewarding for everyone" after a chaotic season which saw them occupy a relegation spot in October.

"We're not going for a weekend out," he said. "It's only rewarding if we win."


A 14-game winless run in all competitions left Mansfield in the relegation places and equal on points with then bottom side Scunthorpe in October.

The Stags, however, were catapulted up the table after notching up a club record 11 consecutive home league wins.

They were in contention for automatic promotion until the final day of the season, and eventually had to settle for a seventh-placed finish and play-off spot despite beating title winners Forest Green Rovers in their last regular season game.

Mansfield then went on to beat Northampton in both home and away legs of their play-off semi-final to book their first trip to Wembley since losing the FA Trophy final to Darlington in 2011.

"It's been a long 10 months working towards to this," Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"We just want to perform somewhere near our best on Saturday, that's the aim more than anything else."


Mansfield Town are ready for the challenge of League One football - says boss Nigel Clough ahead of Wembley day of destiny
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Nigel Clough believes Mansfield Town are ready for the challenge of League One football if that step up can be achieved on Saturday.

Stags take on Port Vale in the League Two play-off final at Wembley and Clough said: “This club is about ready for League One.

“You look at the teams that have gone up - Bristol Rovers are one of the biggest clubs at our level and the level above.

“Then you look at Forest Green and Exeter and they have been knocking on the door for five or six years, just missing out.


“So they are ready as well.

“We are not as close as them in terms of sustained success over the last few seasons.

“But I think we are ready in terms in infrastructure and everything certainly.

“The RH Academy (training ground) has given the club a great foundation to move forwards and attract players with the facilities.

“It was one of the best things the club has done in terms of looking further ahead. It gives you a platform moving forward.”

He added: “We will look at where we are after Saturday, but look where we've come over 18 months - we were down near the bottom when we arrived and we dipped down there again October/November time.

“But I think we have steadily been improving and a win on Saturday would cement that and prove that to everybody.

“Whatever league we are in next season I think we're in good shape overall.”

However, while many see promotion via a big day out at Wembley as the best way to go up, Clough disagrees.

“The others can steal a march on you. You are way behind on your recruitment and way behind with everything else going into pre-season.

“We are back on 29th June for pre-season which is very late in terms of when the season starts - it's only four and a half weeks.

“Other clubs will be back and better prepared going into the new season.

“It might be wonderful to go to Wembley for a lot of reasons and it keeps the season going and all that sort of thing.

“But from a purely practical point of view, if you get automatic promotion, it gives you that extra three or four weeks.”


Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough tells his players - go and create some memories at Wembley
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has told his players to go out and create memories for themselves, their families, the club and the town in Saturday's League Two play-off final at Wembley.

As Stags prepare to face Port Vale, Clough said: “This is a big chance for the players, family and friends.

“Yes, we do it for ourselves and the team and everything like that.

“But players will be very aware of their loved ones being there and it is an opportunity to create memories for them.


“Mansfield don't go to Wembley very often and haven't been in League One too often. We have 90 minutes to try to get us there.”

Clough knows the pressure that will create on his squad and knows he needs to handle some of the players differently.

“With players like Stephen Quinn and James Perch, you can pile the pressure on. They have been in bigger games than this over their careers.

“But you have a slightly different approach with the ones going there for the first time. It will be the biggest game of their careers.

“It's all been quite laid back this week so far, which is nice.

“It's been a long time we've been working towards this.

“We just want to perform somewhere near our best on Saturday - that's the aim more than anything else.

“It is more than 'just another game' - it has to be.

“It is the culmination of 10-11 months work and we have a one game opportunity to try to achieve our ambition that we set out to do at the start of the season.

“But if we lose it doesn't mean it's been a poor season. It's been successful to this point. But once you get to this point all you want to do is win that last game.”

Clough said their rise from the bottom two in October to now underlined how much belief the players have.

“That one game at Northampton when we were very poor, that's the only time there's been major grumbles,” he said.

“The rest of the time I thought there were reasonable explanations to say this is why we were where we were and that as soon as we get a few players back we will win some games.

“We improved the squad again in January which certainly helped us and we are where we are because of that.

“It would been very easy for them to turn on each other and factors from outside can turn on the players too. But that didn't happen and the players kept believing as they knew we weren't far away.

“The way we finished last season, we played very well and we played very well at the start of this season for the first four or five games. So that gave us something to hold onto.

“It wasn't as if we were saying this is what we want to do and we haven't done it before.

“We said we did it at the end of last season, we did it at the start of this season and we just need a few players back, a win, and we will be away.”

He added: “The camp is buoyant. Win both legs of the semi-final and you can't wait for Saturday.

“One thing you do remember from cup finals is people asking you for tickets and all the stuff like that. So you want to get all that dealt with early in the week so we can concentrate on the game.

“You also have to separate yourself from people going down for the weekend, saying it's a great day out - we're going to Wembley. For us this is work, nothing else. Just work.”


Wembley team selection could be decided on the day as Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough looks to strike the right balance
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Nigel Clough said picking the right balance of team for the job would be key to success against Port Vale on Saturday - and that line-up could be decided as late as on the day of the game.

Manager Clough made three big changes to get past Northampton Town in the semi-final second leg and book Saturday's game at Wembley, and on deciding on the Wembley starting XI he said: “It could be Friday or Saturday, probably Saturday.

“Sometimes we don't make up our mind and it might be one of those when we are still discussing options and the way we are going to go still on Saturday morning.

“All we have are a few knocks and niggles we have had over the last couple of weeks.


“Stephen Quinn has been carrying an injury, Rhys Oates does well to get through games at times, as does Lucas Akins.

“So we are hoping to have everyone available.”

He added: “The first problem is getting the balance of the team right.

“We made a few changes for the second leg at Northampton and we have a few people fighting for starting places to come back in. So it will be a difficult team to pick and get the balance right.

“I think we got it about right at Northampton for what we needed to do on the night. But this is a completely different game now 10 days later at Wembley.

“It's a big pitch, so we have to get the formation and the personnel right.

“Whatever the starting XI is, the subs will come on at Wembley - it's such an energy-sapping arena that we will need as close as we can everybody, as everybody has contributed all season in small parts and larger parts.”

Clough said it had been down to the character of his players they have got this far.

“I was asked at the start of the season what it would take to get through the season and be successful and I said the strength of the squad,” he recalled.

“He reminded me that my dad said many years ago it was about character, though they didn't have such big squads in those days.

“But it's the same thing in lots of ways. If you get the right characters in the squad then they can come in and contribute even when they haven't been involved for a little while.

“This squad has been very united and that is what got us through that bad spell earlier in the season and got us to this point now.

“Our togetherness kept us going through the dark days.

“If we go 1-0 down on Saturday you do not crumble, you don't fold. You try to come back and your spirit makes that more of a possibility.”

The Stags certainly won't be changing their attacking philosophy.

“I am immensely proud of the whole club and how we have handled it and moved forward, but mostly the players and the way they have performed,” said Clough.

“We have tried to play football and scored a few goals at home.

“We have tried to attack away from home. We set out to do that at the start of the season and we think that's our best way of succeeding.”


Nigel Clough unhappy as Mansfield Town come under VAR spotlight for the first time at Wembley
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Mansfield Town will find themselves under the VAR spotlight for the first time at Wembley on Saturday.

It is a move not welcomed by Stags boss Nigel Clough, despite so many awful decisions having gone against them over the regular season.

“We have people coming in today to explain it all to the players and they can ask questions and everything,” said Clough.

“But the way they referee in the Premier League and any slightest touch is completely different to League Two.


“So if something gets referred to VAR are you going to review it on League Two standards or Premier League standards.

“We have played 48 games in one particular way which is why we have people coming in. They should leave it the same as we have had for the 48 games.

“I would rather just have a good referee doing the final.

“The referee we had at Northampton got everything spot on as the replays proved. He should be refereeing the final, but he is not experienced with VAR so he can't do it.”

As top scorer, Rhys Oates knows he could find himself in one of those awful moments regularly seen on the Premier League coverage where goalscorers have to delay their wild celebrations while a decision is scrutinised.

“I think it's quite hard to control yourself if you score, especially when you've not played with VAR before,” he said.

“I think I would just celebrate as I usually would and then it's a minute or two wait to see what happens.

“You have just got to try to block it out of your mind, play your normal game, but be careful of silly tackles as everything is getting reviewed.”


Proud boss Nigel Clough asks fans to stay off the pitch at Wembley
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said he was proud the club's fans have stayed off the pitch after recent big games as requested as other clubs have seen shameful scenes and players attacked.

Now he is asking them to do the same at Wembley on Saturday.

And striker Jordan Bowery has spoken for the first time of the assault on him at Northampton Town last week.

“The biggest thing on Saturday is for fans to stay off the pitch,” said Clough.


“We asked our supporters to do it and they have respected that in the last few games. We are very, very proud of that.

“When you see some of the scenes that have happened in the last couple of weeks, our supporters have not set foot on the pitch and we ask them to keep doing that as we are very proud of that.”

Several incidents brought shame on the sport last week at big games with Sheffield United's Billy Sharp floored by a head butt from a Forest fan, who was jailed, only 24 hours before Bowery was barged into as three Northampton fans ran on the field throwing flares.

Bowery admitted it came as a shock but he knew he simply could not afford to react.

“I didn't know he was coming to me to be honest. He was looking right past me, so I wasn't expecting it,” he said.

“I thought he was going to just run right past but he ended up barging me and saying how the ref is a so-and-so. I was thinking why are you attacking me?

“If someone did that to you in the street the natural reaction is you wouldn't stand for it.

“But you know deep down there is a bigger picture.

“If someone reacted badly and did something to him you could miss the final and something could happen to him. It's just not worth it. You have just got to let the stewards take control.

“But it is getting out of hand at the minute, Things are happening everywhere and it needs to stop.

“You saw at Manchester City the crossbar getting snapped off. This all needs nipping in the bud to be honest.

“The more people are talking about it the more it seems to be happening. It is getting worse and I don't know what we can do about it.

“But it does need to be stopped as something worse could happen.

“The Billy Sharp one was terrible. What is stopping someone bringing a knife onto the pitch and attacking a player or a manager?

“Hopefully all the fans are responsible on Saturday and stay in their seats.”


Big Stags connections will give Port Vale extra incentive in Wembley final believes Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Nigel Clough believes the big Mansfield Town connection at Port Vale will provide an extra incentive for the opposition in Saturday's big play-off final at Wembley.

Ex-Stags midfield star and local lad Darrell Clarke is Vale's manager, former Stags boss David Flitcroft is director of football and former Mansfield players Mal Benning, Aidan Stone and Harry Charsley are in their ranks.

“It is an extra incentive - certainly for the players,” said Clough.

“Also, Darrell is a Mansfield lad and David was here not so long ago.


“But, like us, I think they will want to do it just for their own club.

“They will want to get into League One for Port Vale's sake more than anything else.

“They have three ex-players we've had in Aidan Stone, Harry Charsley and Mal Benning.

“They've done very well for them as we would have expected.

“We improved our squad and they were surplus.

“Mal said he was ready for a fresh challenge, we'd brought fresh goalkeepers in for Stoney and Harry Charsley just wanted to go and play regular football that we couldn't offer him as we had a very strong midfield area, so he couldn't get a regular game.

“But we will be shaking hands with all three of them. They have remained friends with players here at the club so there is certainly no animosity between us.”

Clough has been impressed by the job done at Vale Park by Clarke, who has had time off recently for a major personal bereavement.

“Port Vale brought in a lot of players,” said Clough

“I think Darrell recognised last season they needed a big turnaround of players. We beat them on the last day of the season.

“They have brought a lot in, but what I think he has done brilliantly is he has gelled them very quickly. They have played one or two different formations and are a very formidable side.

“I think Vale will take similar numbers of fans to us, so for a League Two play-off final it will be a brilliant occasion with 50,000 or so there. It will be a good crowd for our level with a lot of noise.”

He added: “We haven't beaten them this season, though we played incredibly well at home and got a 1-1 draw. We dominated the game and missed a penalty but couldn't get that winning goal.

“Then we got 1-0 ahead in the game away from home but made a couple of errors that cost us and we ended up losing 3-1.

“So we know how tough it is going to beat them. Players like Ben Garrity and James Wilson can hurt you at any time in the game.

“But I think they are very, very similar to us. They've done incredibly well to get to Wembley.

“We are probably two teams not so fancied at the start of the season for the play-off final.

“Darrell has had a tough time. He is a friend, so it's lovely for him to get there as well.”


Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough to lead out a side at Wembley for the first time on Saturday
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Nigel Clough is no stranger to Wembley as a player or manager but can't wait to lead a team out for the first time on Saturday for the League Two play-off final.

Clough has been there as a manager with Sheffield United in an FA Cup semi-final and as a player in two finals with Nottingham Forest and said: “It is a strange feeling that I will be leading them out.

“I don't know how it will be until we get there. But it's going to be a good day, though only a good day if we get a result. We're not going there for anything other than that.

“There will be a certain nervous tension without a doubt.


“You don't actually get to lead the team out in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

“So this will be the first time properly leading a team out.

“We were a League One side then playing a Premier League side so it was a little bit different. But there was an awful lot at stake that day as there will be on Saturday.”

As a player with Forest he recalled: “We played Luton in the first final and won. But I can remember being much more nervous for the second one against Oldham in the League Cup final.

“I felt the weight of expectation more for that one than the first. We didn't play very well that day against Oldham and managed to win 1-0. But I can remember the manager being disappointed in our performance so we were in running the next day!

“It is a little bit different with this being our last game. I don't think we can get them in on Sunday as much as we may like to.

“It's been a long time but the main thing is that they're there now and they've got a good chance.”

Clough loves Wembley but believes the old stadium produced a better atmosphere than the shiny new one.

“What they have done to Wembley is brilliant but in terms of atmosphere I think it was better before,” he said.

“I always think standing gives you a better atmosphere for a start.

“Traditionally when you walked out you had that curve behind you and all the flags I thought that was pretty special.

“People associated it with 1966 and everything as well.

“I know everything moves on and you have to improve, but in pure footballing atmosphere terms I think it was better before.

“I can remember first walking towards it and seeing it and it was incredibly imposing and impressive walking towards it when you'd only seen it on TV, the Twin Towers and everything.

“I still think it is, but it looks modern now. It is a modern football stadium now rather than the iconic one that was there before.”


Extra backing for Mansfield Town at Wembley from neighbouring Nottingham Forest fans
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Mansfield Town are hoping to pick up some extra support from Nottingham Forest fans to help cheer them up into League One on Saturday.

Just 24 hours after Stags' showdown with Port Vale, the Reds from down the road will take on Huddersfield Town in a sold-out game for a hallowed place in the Premier League.

And with many Forest fans making a weekend of it in the capital, boss Nigel Clough, himself an ex-Forest star, is hoping they could swell the numbers in the Stags end of Wembley and raise the noise levels even further.

“I have spoken to a lot of people and they seem to be going to both games,” said Clough.


“I think there is a big overlap. People don't realise that when we were at Forest and doing really well, a lot of people adopted Mansfield as their second club.

“There is no rivalry or anything. It's just a good crossover and I think a lot of people will take advantage this weekend and go to both games, which would be great.

“It will boost our crowd and whet their appetite for the game on the Sunday.

“Having both clubs there boosts everybody in the area, two out the three teams going to Wembley is lovely.”

He added: “It would have been great if Notts County could have got through a very dramatic, typical play-off game on Monday night at Meadow Lane which ended in disappointment.”

Clough also expects the Wembley trip to further expand the club's growing fan base.

“It is always an added bonus that with a big cup game or a play-off final, you will take people down because of the venue and the nature of the game,” he said.

“Our average crowds are up this season and you hope next season we can keep adding that five to 10 per cent. That's how you grow the club. By growing the fan base on days like Saturday.

“We have Forest down the road and your big Premier League boys as well.

“But you keep picking up a few and you want them to feel proud wearing the shirt.”

Clough said a Wembley final was a just reward for all the miles the club have done this season.

“There are not many local games for us in League Two, so we have done some miles this season, as have the supporters,” he said.

“We've been up to Barrow and Colchester in midweek, Hartlepool in midweek - there has been a lot of travelling.

“So this is a reward for everybody, especially the fans. But I can't stress enough. We are not going for a weekend out. It's only a reward if we win.

Clough's hopes for increased support were shared by striker Jordan Bowery, who said: “It will be amazing support for us and, with Forest playing the day after, hopefully we can get some Forest fans there as well to push the numbers up.”


Mansfield Town players unhappy with no under-twos ruling at Wembley Stadium
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Some of Mansfield Town's squad are unhappy with a Wembley rule that bans children aged under two from attending matches.

That will leave some with babies facing some tough decisions over childcare.

It is not a rule that sits well with boss Nigel Clough, who said: “Apparently it's a Wembley rule that they don't admit under-twos into the stadium, though I am not sure why that would be.

“Because we have an experienced squad I think we have 30-odd small children among the squad which is quite a lot.


“A few have recently had babies as well and this obviously causes parenting and childcare issues.

“When you have got to leave your baby at home maybe your wife might have to stay at home to look after them, so it does cause a problem.

“I can't understand the rule really.

“It is just a shame that the whole families can't go.”

Striker Jordan Bowery, while not affected himself, said: “When you want your whole family to be there it's a shame they can't be there and I don't know what the problem is.

“They are only going to sit there on someone's lap, not causing any issues. But it is what it is, we just have to get on with it.”


Stags are united heading into final - forward
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 24th May 2022

In-form forward Jordan Bowery has highlighted the unity within the squad and club ahead of this Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium against Port Vale.

The 30-year-old frontman has enjoyed a fruitful campaign so far, scoring nine goals and providing six assists in 42 appearances.

Jordan, who signed for the Stags in 2020 and was top scorer last season, insists that it doesn’t matter who is amongst the goals this Saturday, just as long as it’s someone in a Mansfield shirt.


“We’re [Bowery & Oates] strikers and strikers are competitive, they want to be the highest scorer,” said Jordan, in a joint news conference with fellow marksman Rhys Oates.

“We’re close off the pitch and I wish nothing but the best for Oatesy [Rhys Oates] and I would love to see him get a hattrick.”

Jordan has twice graced the Wembley surface previously and offered his thoughts ahead of another personal visit to the home of football.

“You’ve just got to play the game, not the occasion because it is a massive game for the fans and for the club, so you’ve just got to go out there and treat it like every other game.

“You’ve just got to go out there and give everything and do it for the town and do it for the badge.

“I have seen on twitter that it was 15,000 [Stags’ tickets sold so far]. It will be a good day and I believe we can do it for them.

“We all know there Is a big prize at the end of it so we’re going to give it everything we’ve got in training and put it out there on Saturday.”

The former Crewe player explained how this squad is different to previous ones he has worked with throughout his career.

“Honestly, it's one of the best, or probably the best groups I've worked with.

“There's no individuals in this team. All the lads get on, everyone's together, singing and having a laugh and it's been like that even when we had that bad run.

“It's the togetherness that the gaffer puts on for us, like going out on golf days and having a few drinks now and again. You need that. It’s not an individual sport, it's a team sport.”

The dynamic forward, who scored in the play-off semi-final, believes this has been one of his most productive seasons.

“I think it's got to be up there [his best seasons].

“Everybody wants to be pushing for something and hopefully one of us [the two strikers] can nick another goal at Wembley and get us through to League One.”


Mansfield Town ace Jordan Bowery hoping to play in third Wembley final and loving life with Stags
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Jordan Bowery is hoping to be picked to play in his third Wembley final on Saturday when Mansfield Town take on Port Vale.

Bowery bagged a first leg goal to help Stags past Northampton in the semi-final and said: “I have had two promotions from League Two but I have never done it through the play-offs.

“It would be a huge thing for me and I can't imagine what it would be like for Mansfield as a town to see their club in League One.

“I have been to Wembley twice now and I have won and lost.


“Every kid wants to play at our national stadium before 90,000 people.

“It's a great day out and it's always in the sun at this time of the year. It makes it even better if you go there and win.”

He continued: “I was at Chesterfield for the Johnstone's Paint final.

“I was a young lad, 20-21, and I was quite nervous.

“I didn't know I was playing until the last minute. Maybe that was a good thing as if you'd told me in the week I would have probably called in sick, I was that nervous.

“But you just have to play the game, not the occasion. It is a massive game for the fans and for the club, but you have to go out there and treat it like any other game.

“As strikers we try to score as many goals as we can. We want to get the game won and it doesn't really matter who scores, but it would be a massive thing to go out there and score a goal at Wembley - especially a winning goal. Only big games are played there.

“Win or lose we've had a great season. It's been a positive season. Hopefully we can just push one more time and get that win. We know there is a big prize at the end of it.

“You have to go out there and give everything - do it for the town and the badge.”

Bowery has loved every minute of his time at Mansfield under boss Nigel Clough.

“These are the best people I have worked with,” he said.

“There are no individuals in this team. It is a nice, compact team that is together and all the lads get on. That's what you need as this is a team sport

“This season is up there as one of my best. I scored more goals in other seasons but they've not meant anything really. This is for something.

“No one wants to be down the bottom. Everyone wants to be pushing for something and hopefully one of us can nick us another goal at Wembley and get us through to League One.

“I have enjoyed my football under the gaffer. He brings everyone together. You just come in and enjoy it.

“I have been at clubs where it has been a bit of a slog of a session and that can affect a player's performance. We know we will come into training, work hard and have a laugh. But our main focus is on the Saturday.

“I am loving it here so far and hope it continues.”

On the best way to achieve glory on Saturday, he said: “Forget about the crowd and play like we play at home. I am sure that will get us the result we want.

“It's been a long time coming so it's massive for the supporters and this town to go down there and enjoy a special occasion. Hopefully we can give it to them. We want to get promoted as it will be massive for the club.”


Mansfield Town hope to be ‘Walking in Memphis’ on Saturday night after Wembley final
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Marc Cohn's 1991 hit Walking in Memphis has become Mansfield Town's players' theme tune to their rise up the League Two table.

And they hope to be singing it in celebration at Wembley on Saturday.

Stags were languishing in the bottom two in October.

But when that song came on after a 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic halted the rot and sent them on a 14-game unbeaten run, the joy they felt singing along in the changing room has lasted.


And fans were delighted to see videos of the players in full voice with it after the semi-final second leg win at Northampton Town last week that booked Saturday's League Two final at Wembley.

“Early on when we got a win, it was the first song that came on after the game,” said striker Rhys Oates.

“ So we said every win that we get now that will be our song for after the game.

“I think it's been on a few times now and most of the lads know most of the words, so it's a good singalong.

“The changing room has been bouncing all season and we have all been singing along to the song.

“But it was extra special last Wednesday, all being in a huddle and singing as a group. It showed how close we are. It was an extra special day that I hope we can top on Saturday.

“We made the most of it after the game in the changing room in the semi-final. “You just have to enjoy that moment and then this week is all focused on Wembley.

“We went out Thursday and had a couple of beers and some food and it was good to keep the squad together, have a good night, relax and try to forget about it for a couple of days.”

Team mate Jordan Bowery smiled: “I still don't know the words but it has stuck with us since the start of that run.

“We are a good unit, we love being together and working hard.

“We are all here for the same reason. But looking back at those videos you can see how happy everyone is and how together we are, we want to do it for each other and get that promotion.”


Forward relishing ‘amazing’ Wembley opportunity
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Stags’ top scorer Rhys Oates says Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final will be an ‘amazing experience’ but that the squad are solely focused on their ‘end goal’ of achieving promotion to League One.

Mansfield head to Wembley off the back of two semi-final victories over Northampton Town, the highest finishing League Two play-off side after the 46-game regular season.

Goalscorer in the play-off semi-final first leg at One Call Stadium, Oates will be looking to add to his 13 goals in all competitions this Saturday in a highy-anticipated afternoon for the amber and blue.


Speaking to the media in his pre-Wembley news conference, the Stags’ number 18 voiced the size of the occasion.

“It is every kid's dream to play there [Wembley] who loves football so it's going to be an amazing experience,” said the striker.

“The end goal is to win it [the match] and get promoted. Wherever we play we want to win the game and get promoted.

“It is a strange feeling [being in the Play-Off Final]; it doesn’t feel real at the moment that you’re going to play at Wembley, but we’ve just got to take it as another game.”

The Stags’ talisman believes that the team can take great confidence into the weekend from winning both of their play-off semi-finals against Northampton.

“If you look at both legs; [in the] first leg, we had a lot of the ball and we created a lot of chances [and] got the lead,” he said.

“We [then] showed how good we can defend [in the second leg away at Sixfields], keeping clean sheets and things like that.

“I think if we put both of them together [the fine attacking and defensive displays] on the day then it should be a positive outcome.”

With excitement building, Stags have sold over 15,000 tickets for the encounter.

The frontman feels that having a large crowd to back the squad will be an added bonus at the country’s largest football stadium.

“It's exciting,” said Oates.

“We're all buzzing for it and we're just going to take the week as usual [and] train as we usually do.

“They have [the fans] been like a twelfth man all season, I think 15,000 is an amazing number.

“Hopefully we can keep that [figure] rising throughout the week and get that maybe to the 20,000 mark.

“They will be backing us as they have done all season, we know that they will be amazing from the first minute and will be backing us all the way to the ninetieth minute [and beyond].”

With the Stags a game away from Sky Bet League One, the forward lauded the squad’s remarkable rise from joint bottom of the league in mid-October to promotion hopefuls in May.

“It’s been a roller coaster season, but it's been an amazing one.

“If you look at where we were in October time; during the season we were [at] rock bottom [and] joint bottom in the league.

“To see where we are now, it's been an amazing turnaround and it's been a great season.”


Playing at Wembley is achieving every youngster’s dream says Mansfield Town top scorer Rhys Oates
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 24th May 2022

Rhys Oates knows he is achieving every youngster’s dream if he plays in Saturday's League Two play-off final at Wembley.

Mansfield Town's top scorer said: “I have never played there and it's every kid's dream who loves football to play there, let alone score.

“Just thinking about scoring a goal at Wembley is mind-blowing and we are getting the chance to potentially do it.

“It is going to be an amazing experience. But the end goal is to win it and get promoted.


“It's a strange one. I am still waiting for it to fully sink in.

“It doesn't feel real at the minute - that we're going to play at Wembley.”

But Oates knows he can't met excitement overtake professionalism.

“We've just got to take it as another game,” he said.

“As we said for both legs of the semi-final you've just got to try to take it as another game, play our usual game and see what happens on the day.

“It is exciting. We are all buzzing for it.”

Stags will be backed by a huge army of fans again and he said: “They have been like a 12th man all season. 15,000 is a tremendous number and hopefully we can keep that rising throughout the week and maybe get to the 20,000 mark, and they will be backing us like they have done all season.

“We know they will be amazing from the first minute and will back us through to the 90th minute.

“Please make the noise you've made all season and we will put everything into it, 100 per cent and do our best to get us promoted.

“Everyone is working as hard as they have all season, standards have been high, and now it's just up to the gaffer to pick the team.

“I would take anyone to score - anyone in the squad - as long as it took us up I don't really care.”

He added: “It's been a rollercoaster season but it's been an amazing one when you look where we were are now and where we were in November time - at rock bottom.

“It has been an amazing turnaround and it's been a great season.”

Oates signed last summer after helping Hartlepool United to promotion and said of his season so far: “It's been a great experience for me personally.

Last season was my highest-scoring season. But this is the most I have scored in the league throughout my career and I think that is down to the lads, the staff and the fans who have backed me all season.

“I started the season playing in different positions and it took me a while to get going. But once I got off the mark up front I knew I would be able to kick on from there.

“When I signed, the gaffer told me he saw me playing in numerous positions and he knows how to look after me and my body on a day to day basis with training.

“With being more of a sprinter/powerful player you need to have more rest and the gaffer has been amazing with that.”


James Perch: Mansfield Town defender on Wembley return after skull fracture
bbc.co.uk, By Andrew Aloia

The potentially deadly consequences of playing football had James Perch considering retirement just nine months ago.

Instead, on Saturday, he will walk onto the Wembley pitch for Mansfield Town's League Two play-off final against Port Vale having recovered from a fractured skull - which has left a shard of bone pointing towards his brain.

It took countless neurological and physical tests, as well numerous scans, for the defender to be passed fit to resume his career in January, after an "innocuous aerial challenge" during training in August threatened to bring his 18-year professional playing career to an end.

"The risk that came with it was that if I was to get another whack there it could be fatal. That is the extreme consequence," Perch told BBC Sport.


"I thought 'I've got a young family, do I really want to risk it and come off worse and not see my kids grow up?'

"I was really close to retiring until I got the good news from the specialist."

The 36-year-old former Newcastle, Nottingham Forest and Wigan player was cleared to return to action as long as he wore a protective headband to cover the area above his right temple where he suffered a depressed fracture.

It is an injury synonymous with blunt force trauma and Perch suffered his by being hit by a stray elbow in training when jumping to head a ball.

Initially it was thought he had broken his jaw.

But while driving his son to a match at Wolves he received a phone call telling him he needed to go to hospital for brain scans after it was found he had fractured his skull.

He immediately knew how much more serious the injury was, having seen what Wolves striker Raul Jimenez went through after suffering a similarly traumatic head injury.

Perch returned to Nottingham and went to the Queen's Medical Centre, where he waited for 12 hours in accident and emergency to have the first of many tests.

"I thought 'I'm not going to play again'," Perch told BBC Radio Nottingham. "Then months passed and it was still that I wasn't going to play.

"It was looking more like a year that I'd be out - I thought that would take me to 37 or 38, and I didn't think I can play on until that time anyway."

Perch's injury coincided with a slump in Mansfield's form that saw the club fail to win 14 consecutive games in all competitions. By late October they were in the relegation spots and level on points with bottom side Scunthorpe.

A club record 11 straight home league wins between 30 October and 2 April saw the Stags surge up the table to establish themselves as unlikely promotion contenders.

Perch ensured he remained physically active in the gym, determined to contribute to the Stags' remarkable season turnaround. His recuperation was monitored daily with memory tests.

Progress felt slow to start with, but his recovery was faster than expected.

"I didn't want it to finish me like that while I was still able," Perch said.

"I was in the gym doing stuff - I could run, do weights, I was always fit. I remember being in the gym and sitting on a mat and thinking 'I'm too fit to give up, I have to keep going, I know I can do it'."

After five months, a specialist told him that the fracture had healed as well as it could and the all-clear was given to attempt a return.

It started with non-contact sessions with team-mates, and heading the ball was strictly forbidden.

The weeks passed and he was integrated into full training, with heading reintroduced.

Every bit of physical exertion came with more tests.

"I had to go through so many checks to get back, I had to do so many headers, there was so much speed work and distance I had to cover to keep an eye on what the side effects might be," he said.

"I had to do tests to see if it affected my memory. I really struggled with that immediately after I did it.

"We had good content on how I was straight after I did it, so I could see the improvement as the months went on. That is how I knew I was getting better."

Overcoming a setback
By late January he was passed fit to play, and came off the bench in the final minute of a 2-0 home win against Leyton Orient.

On 1 February, he was again given a late cameo against Harrogate. This time, however, it was a costly one.

"We defended a corner and I was thinking 'please don't come on my head'. It was whipped in with all sorts of sauce on it and I was front post and headed it away, and thought 'oh no what have I done?'

"I got up the next morning feeling a bit sick, feeling a bit drunk, stumbling all over the place so I had to have another two weeks out."

That header proved to him that "the threat is still there".

Since then he has played without any concerns, displaying the same combative qualities he has performed with at every level - from the fourth division to the Premier League - during his extensive career.

The difference, he says, is how much more he is enjoying it.

"It hasn't affected me, I still head the ball and I still put my head where it hurts," he said. "Hopefully nothing ever happens again.

"I feel like I've overcome it now, I'm enjoying football more than I ever had done at this stage of my career."

Now he prepares for his third trip to Wembley, having twice been there with Wigan in 2013-14, for the Community Shield against Manchester United and an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

This game against Port Vale for a place in League One, however, will be more special.

"It's the pinnacle for me," Perch said. "From thinking about retiring then all of a sudden the team get to Wembley, playing at Wembley in front of my family, the kids and stuff. You can't get much better."


Ex-Derry City winger Stephen McLaughlin aims for Wembley joy again
derryjournal.com, By Kevin McLaughlin, Friday 27th May 2022

Former Derry City winger Stephen McLaughlin is hoping for Wembley joy for a second time when Mansfield Town take on Port Vale in the Sky Bet League Two playoff tomorrow afternoon.

The 31-year-old, who netted Mansfield’s winner in their play-off semi-final second leg win at Northampton, was in the Southend United team which defeated Wycombe Wanderers in the 2015 EFL League Two play-off final and a repeat result on Saturday would do nicely.

McLaughlin concedes getting the chance to play at Wembley for a second time is something special, but to win again would be unreal.

“I have been there once and won so hopefully it will happen again,” he insisted.

“These games are one off games, where anything can happen, so you have to go there and have no regrets and see where it takes you. You win or you might lose, but you just have to give it your all and see what happens and that’s all we can do.

read more at https://www.derryjournal.com/sport/football/ex-derry-city-winger-stephen-mclaughlin-aims-for-wembley-joy-again-3710844

“Whenever you were younger playing football everybody talked about Wembley, it’s the national stadium of England.

“It’s a massive, massive stadium and I think everybody involved in football knows how hard it is to get there and I think we need to be proud of ourselves to get there after the run we had at the start of the season and to get to Wembley is incredible for the team, but now that we are there we obviously want to win.”

The talented winger, who this season has slotted into left-back for Nigel Clough’s side really has rolled back the years and has had a fantastic campaign.

The Isle of Doagh native picked up four player of the year awards for the Stags’ but he concedes the Players’ Player of the Year accolade is special to him.

“That meant a lot to me,” he added. “Any player will tell you that to get player’s player of the year is a massive achievement with fellow players voting for you to say you’ve had a good season.

“I have been in England nearly 10 years now and I have never picked up this many awards. I have had a good season, probably one of my best in England. I am really happy with it.”

McLaughlin has had a impressive campaign and has enjoyed his new defensive role, but he concedes he still enjoys breaking forward and getting into the opposition’s penalty box.

In fact that winning goal at Northampton last week saw Mansfield right-back Elliott Hewitt cross for McLaughlin to side foot home from six yards and that all out attacking approach is something the ex-Finn Harps man enjoys.

“That’s the way we play, we go out to score goals and win the game,” he stated.

“That’s the way we have been playing all season, nothing changes and nothing will change on Saturday.

“We had a difficult start to the season because we were missing boys through injuries and suspension but once we got the boys back on the pitch and got the starting 11 week in week out, we just knew it was going to happen and thankfully it did and we have taken the momentum on.

“We just weren’t at the races against them away and although we went 1-0 up our keeper kind of made a mistake for their goal, but we just weren’t at it for whatever reason, I don’t know and we got beat 3-1, but the turning point of our season was when he played them at home. They were sitting third and we absolutely battered them but drew 1-1 and after that game we went on a run.

“We have some positives to take into Saturday’s game but we also have to be wary too because they are a good side.”

McLaughlin, who admits he has been watching a few League of Ireland games, concedes that he’ll be keeping a close eye on tonight’s North West derby at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium when his two former clubs face each other in a big game.

“I have been watching the games and Friday night’s derby is going to be a tasty one,” he explained. “Especially as Derry have to now get back on track after their unbelievable start. They now have three defeats in a row, so the derby would be a great game for them to get back on track. But in fairness over the last couple of years those derby games have been tough.

“All the games have been very, very tight and Finn Harps went to Drogheda and got beat with 10 men, but by all accounts they were unlucky not to get something against Dundalk.

“So to be honest like Derry, Harps will be thinking the derby is no better game to change things around against their rivals, so I think it’s going to be a tough game and a great watch.”

‘Macca’, who played for two years at the Brandywell alongside current Candy Stripes boss Ruaidhrí Higgins always had a feeling he would one day go into management and now that he has taken over the hot-seat at Derry, he really hopes he does well.

“I wasn’t really surprised because he was that kind of person anyway and when I was playing with him you could probably see it,” explained McLaughlin. “He has done an unbelievable job and looking from the outside in, it looks like he has got a lot of trust there from the players and the board and everybody seems to believe in him and I hope he does very, very well.

“The league this year is there for Derry to mount a charge but everyone knows it’s going to be tough to catch (Shamrock) Rovers but they’ll be looking to close the gap.”



Latest | May 2022