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Archived News from May 2004

11th May 2004 14:32

by STEVIE RODEN, Evening Post, 11 May 2004

Stags midfielder Tom Curtis has fond memories of the play-offs. Nine years ago, he walked up the Wembley steps as part of the victorious Chesterfield side that secured promotion from Division Three.

The memories are fresh for Curtis - but it is a time Mansfield fans would rather forget after their arch-rivals knocked them out in the play-off semi-finals.

Stags supporters will now be banking on Curtis's valuable experience to help lead them to glory. And the tenacious midfielder is confident of success for a second time.

"It was a long time ago but I remember how great it was," said the 31-year-old. "It was a fantastic day and walking up the Wembley steps to collect a medal was a brilliant feeling.

"Looking back, to go up through the play-offs was probably the best way because of the whole experience.

"I remember having been disappointed not to go up automatically but in the end it was like a cup final."

Curtis sounds a note of caution though.

He said: "It is only enjoyable if you win it. With the play-offs come stress and uncertainty - but I'm confident we can do it."

The midfielder has played 41 times for Mansfield this season, his battling performances winning over the fans to shake off his Spireite tag after making more than 250 appearances for Chesterfield.

Curtis is relieved Keith Curle's side won at Huddersfield on Saturday, avoiding a nervous last day of the season.

He added: "To go into Saturday's game with Northampton needing a draw or victory would have caused a lot of stress and anxiety.

"We will still be going out to win this weekend but it means we can play with a little bit of the pressure off.

"We can plan ahead and the aim is to carry our momentum into the play-offs.

"Everyone is playing for their places and for new contracts."

Mansfield have failed to win back-to-back games since Boxing Day and Curtis has been as frustrated as anyone with the club's inconsistent form.

He knows it cost them automatic promotion but feels they have proved that when it comes to the big occasion, the players can handle it.

Curtis said: "One game we are world-beaters and the next we look terrible.

"But we have produced some excellent performances and we now have to do that in the play-off matches.

"We had a bad time with injuries and some poor results away against Rochdale, Bury and Cheltenham.

"Those were pretty dark times but we have definitely turned it around.

"At Hull and against Huddersfield, we have proved we can perform in front of the big crowds and handle the pressure.

"Everyone at the club is really positive and this is the right time to be coming into form."


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