Cardiff - It's the final countdown!
MANSFIELD will become a Bank Holiday ghost town on Monday as an expected army of over 20,000 Stags fans head for Cardiff.
Fans were queuing from the early hours on Sunday morning when the tickets for the Third Division Play-off final against Huddersfield Town went on sale.
Manager Keith Curle was delighted to see the fans' enthusiasm and said: "This is what we have been trying to achieve here all along - a unity between players, staff, fans and the town as a whole.
"It is a big weekend for this football club and for the town. You can feel the excitement.
"I want everyone to go to Cardiff and enjoy the weekend and enjoy the game. But the lads know they have a job to do and that is win the game and promotion.
"Playing in the final at the Millennium Stadium - this is what we are in this industry for and everyone will give their all for the cause.
"Forget our win at Huddersfield, forget everything else. That is all history now. We will approach this as a one-off match with only one winner at the end."
Stags have been given the South Stand end which was traditionally 'unlucky' for clubs until the 'hoodoo' was ended!
Stags will be staying in the same hotel, just outside the capital, used by Manchester United last weekend, who went on to win the FA Cup.
And for those looking for more 'signs' in a sport that seems to foster superstitions and rituals, Stags have not won two games on the trot since Christmas. So last week's 3-1 defeat in 90 minutes by Northampton could be taken as getting the bad result out the way ready for a win at Cardiff!
Or is it all just a whole lot of nonsense?
Curle is delighted to have all but one of his squad fit for the game with striker Iyseden Christie having a pin inserted into his broken foot last week. He is on crutches right now, but should be without them by Monday.
The players were given Monday off and then enjoyed a relaxing Tuesday yesterday as Curle tried to get them used to the idea of playing at the Millennium Stadium.
It will be football work today and tomorrow, a day off on Thursday, and then a focus on Huddersfield on Friday and Saturday before the team head for Cardiff on Sunday.
"We have training facilities down there and we will try to make match preparations as normal as possible," said Curle.
Following the team coach will be another coach filled with ths rest of the Field Mill staff who will stay at the same hotel as the team.
"It will be my first time inside the stadium," said Curle. "When we last played at Cardiff City, John Gannon and I had a walk round the outside of the Millennium and thought - maybe one day! It's come sooner than we thought!"
Subject to demand, tickets remain on sale at Field Mill until 5pm on Friday and there will be extended hours tomorrow (Thursday) until 7pm.
Cardiff - Stags fans' travel arrangements
Travel arrangements have been finalised for Stags fans for Monday.
Coaches, light vans, mini-buses and limousines should leave the M4 at junction 28 and travel along the A48 following the signs to Castleton /St Mellons.
Take the B4487/A4161 to Cardiff City Centre and follow designated coach signs to Lloyd George Avenue where up to 400 spaces are provided within a one mile walk to the Stadium.
Detailed plans and passes must be applied for in advance from the Millenium Stadium to secure free coach parking - telephone 029 20822141 OR 029 20822145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone travelling by car should leave the M4 at Junction 29 and use Companies House and Cathays High School (Blue car park), Knox Road multi-storey (White car park), and ABP Rally Site (Orange car park), following designated signs to park and ride sites for Mansfield Town supporters.
Buses will then take you to within 10 minutes walk from the stadium and back after the match.
There is a charge of £5 per car with free bus shuttle services.
Drop-off points are at Companies House, Cathays High School, and The Friary lay by opposite the Hilton Hotel, Knox Road - this is a Park and Walk.
All car parks will have staff presence from 7am and will open at 7.30am with the first bus at 8.00am.
The last bus will leave the pick-up point at 7.30pm, with car parks closing at 7.30pm.
Stags Supporters Association have asked all those travelling on their 30 buses to be parked up and on the coaches for 7am at Field Mill on Monday.
"We are asking everyone to be prompt as it will be very busy," said SSA publicity officer Chris Vasper.
"Please get there early, park responsibly and it will make things run much smoother. Buses will pull away at 7.30am - they won't be there at 7.31am for anyone."
He added that there was no alcohol allowed on board and, as there were only 10 SSA officials to steward 30 buses, asked people to help them by acting responsibly by being back on the coach on time at stops.
"We just want people to help us in making sure everything goes well," he added.
"We initially booked 20 coaches but they sold out in five hours so we had to find another 10. We are taking 1,500 people down in total."
Cardiff - Stags shop ready for rush
THE Field Mill club shop will be a hive of activity this week as fans clamour to get their hands on the special Cardiff merchandise.
Special limited edition tee-shirts bearing the logo Stags on Tour or Millennium 2004, are on sale from today (Wednesday) and are first come, first served at £7.99 each.
The actual Millennium Stadium 92-page match programme will be on sale from tomorrow (Thursday), priced £5.
Cardiff 2004 flags are £5 each with England flags at £5.99 while Cardiff 2004 car flags are £3.99 each. Also on sale are juggler hats at £5.99 and Harry Bears at £10. In addition the shop has the usual range of Stags merchandise and replica kits.
Latest | May 2004