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Archived News from April 2004

27th April 2004 21:32

Stags stay positive
WITH all hope of automatic promotion now gone, if Field Mill is to stage Second Division football next season it will be via the play-offs.
Saturday's shock home defeat by relegation-threatened Carlisle ended the last hopes of an automatic promotion place.
And Stags now face a daunting couple of Saturdays before they can claim their play-off place.
Standing in the way are Huddersfield Town and Northampton Town, and manager Keith Curle admitted this week that these are massive games for the Stags.
"This fortnight is going to be a very big one for everyone connected with Mansfield Town," he said.
"We need to get into the play-offs, but we need to do so in a positive frame of mind, which means getting two wins from these games.
"Huddersfield still have hopes of an automatic spot, and Northampton have been the form side lately. Since they have changed their manager and made a few changes to their team they have come up onthe rails."
But Curle made it quite clear that he and his side would remain unfazed by the task which lies ahead of them.
"These are the type of games you want to be involved in," he insisted. "Big games, big occasions, and big players.
"Yes, we'd all like to have gone up automatically but reaching the play-offs would still be a great achievement - we could go up the sexy way!
"Even the play-offs would be magnificent when you consider we have only brought in three new players and one loan player all season - far less than the rest of the clubs.
"Yes, it was disappointing to lose to Carlisle, but we created some good chances in the first half, with good passages of play and entertaining football, but didn't put it in the net."
Curle singled out Liam Lawrence - named this week in the FIFA Division Three team -who missed that last gasp penalty which may have kept the hopes of an automaitc spot alive.
"Despite that miss Liam had a great game, and scored two goals," pointed out the manager.
"When you have a penalty in that last kick situation he is the man you look to, and credit to him, he stood up and took that second one when not many would have done so.
"You have to take the loss on the chin and respond, and we will respond in the right manner."
Adam Eaton was due to have a run out with the reserves at Chesterfield yesterday.
Apart from Eaton and Iyseden Christie, Stags go into these vital final two Saturdays of the regular season with a clean bill of health and no further injury concerns.
MP slams away fans decision
MANSFIELD MP Alan Meale has backed Stags fans in slamming a decision to move away fans from the South Stand to the North Stand for next season.
The recommendation from the Safety Advisory Group now seems little more than a formality now, despite over 1,000 fans signing a petition to stay at their traditional end of Field Mill.
But Mr Meale is urging no decision should be rushed into and is asking for further talks after the season ends.
Mr Meale has written to Chief Constable Stephen Green and Notts County Council's senior emergency planning officer John McGuigan saying: "Quite frankly the decision to do this, together with the manner in which it was arrived at, beggars belief.
"I say this because not only was the consultation connected with it extremely limited, the decision to do it was presented as little more than a 'fate accompli' to the football club, its supporters and others.
"Worse still, I belive the decision could lead, in future, to major problems occuring directly to events held at the stadia, because of a lack of understanding and forethought by the police officials concerned.
"For example, transferring visiting supporters from the Quarry Lane end of the ground to the North Stand would create a number of major problems re both stewarding and policing of opposing fans at the ground."
He pointed out that away fans can only leave the Bishop Street stand from Quarry Lane, the only local hostelry available for away fans was at the Quarry Lane end, the exit route would see home and away fans meet, the use of Portland Retail car park would cause shoppers problems, major barriers would have to be purchased and installed to keep fans apart, and any trouble would be at the opposite end from the Police control box.
Speaking on behalf of SAG, Supt Stuart Wright explained to Chad: "In early March, as a result of concerns over potential ongoing disorder on Quarry Lane, which is used by both sets of supporters, we asked the Safety Advisory Group to look at other options.
"We asked for research on away fans using the North Stand. A sub group of the SAG looked at that and recommended that should take place to improve safey and reduce the potentiaal for violence.
"SAG is chaired by Nottinghamshire County Council with representatives from the Fire and Ambulances Services, the District Council, the club themselves and the supporters.
"It was set up after the Hillsbrough disaster and had a responsibility for safety, crowd control and structural issues at football grounds. The SAG have also met twice with SSA representatives to allow them to put other opinions forward and discuss our thoughts.
"Our recommendation is that away fans should use the north Stand and the next stage is that the chair of the SAG will be writing to Mr Haslam.
"SAG advice and recommendations do carry some weight and, aalthough Mr Haslam can say yes or no, we would be very concerned if he didn't accept it.
"We do understand this is a difficult thing for the club and the supporters. The emotions of the supporters is an important issue to us. But at the end of the day we have a public duty to try to advise on the risks and supporters must understand.
"I am sure it won't be easy for Mr Haslam as some supporters don't want this. But safety and maintaining order are the priorities."
Meanwhile, Stags Supporters' Association chairman Dave Morris, in a letter to Chad outlineing his concerns, countered: "Despite the fact that the SAG have recommended that the North Stand be used to house away fans in future seasons, the SSA remain resolutely opposed to the proposals on the grounds of public safety.
"Since we first became aware of the plans three weeks ago we have discussed the matter at length with the police, the SAG, Keith Haslam, our members and also Alan Meale MP.
"We fully appreciate that the Police have a duty of care towards the health and safety of all supporters. We also accept that, after three high profile incidents this season, changes need to be made in order to prevent a serious situation developing in the future.
"However, after listening to the arguments put forward by the police and SAG, we feel that not only will the proposals fail to eliminate the potential for trouble, but they will also create further problems.
"The whole Police philosophy appears to be based upon traveling supporters arriving by official club coaches. Our experiences of running way travel for Mansfield Town show that only 10 - 15 per ceent travel via this method.
"It is almost inevitable that, despite the best efforts of the Police, trouble will occur at some point in the future. Under the new layout this trouble would be likely to take place in the retail car park, which will affect innocent shoppers and possibly result in car damage and personal injury.
"In addition, it must be noted that these changes do not only affect those that use the North Stand. It will have a knock on affect on everyone that uses the West Stand, as certain elements move to be nearer the away fans. Consequently families that wish to be at the quieter end will be forced to move.
"What is most exasperating is that we believe there is a genuinely viable alternative that would provide the Police with the sterile area they require on Quarry Lane and also be acceptable to the supporters.
"Quite simply, fans would be prevented from turning left out of the gate onto Quarry Lane. They would turn right where, after 100 yards, they would have the option of turning left onto the path alongside Field Mill dam. They could follow this path and reach the Early Doors car park with just a three minute delay. There is a further path that leads to the Walkers bingo car park and Nottingham Rd beyond.
"Unfortunately the Police have dismissed this option on the grounds of poor quality paths and lack of lighting. A visit to the site simply does not support this. The route is adequately lit and the paths are wider than the existing route from Quarry Lane to Early Doors, which has no lighting and always creates a potentially dangerous bottleneck at its entrance and exit.
"This story has only been released to the public over the last three weeks and already a petition of 1,200 objectors has been raised. I have little doubt that in the coming weeks the strength of feeling against this idea will gather momentum at an alarming rate.
"The Police are pushing for an immediate answer to the proposal, and are using the need to notify the Football League as a reason. I cannot help but think they are using this as an excuse to railroad the proposal through before a suitable period of consultation has expired.
"It has been made clear to us that the fans, Keith Haslam, MTFC, local residents, businesses and the elected Member of Parliament are all opposed to this move and we are asking that further discussions be entered into before a decision is made."


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