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Archived News from July 2009

29th July 2009 22:46

Everyone at Mansfield Town Football Club and the Stags Supporters Association was saddened by the news of the death of Tommy Cummings in July 2009. He was 80. Cummings was the manager of Mansfield Town from March 1963 to July 1967, and took the club to its first ever promotion since joining the Football League, and very nearly took the club into the Second Division, missing out on goal average.

We send our condolences to his family.

In this special tribute, Martin Shaw and Paul Taylor profile the career of Tommy Cummings, focusing on his time at Field Mill.

Read full tribute at mansfieldtown.net here

Cummings had been an outstanding player at Burnley from the 1940s through to the 1960s, playing well over 400 times and is fifth in the all-time appearance list for Burnley. He was a key member of the side that won the First Division in 1959-60. He played for a Football League XI and played 3 times for England B, and was often described as 'the best uncapped centre half in England'.

He joined Mansfield in the 1962-63 season as player-manager and played in the final 10 games of the season, guiding us to promotion from Division IV on goal average by 0.118 of a goal! Raich Carter had resigned as manager in January 1963 to become manager at Middlesbrough. Tommy Cummings was then appointed in March. In an exciting end to the season, it all came down to the final game on 20th May 1963. The Stags were sitting in the final promotion place but were just a point ahead of Gillingham. The Stags final game was away to Stockport County whilst Gillingham were at home to Oxford, but, in a situation which would not be allowed to happen today, the Gillingham match kicked off an hour before Mansfield's game. At half time there were no goals at Stockport, but the news came through that Gillingham had beaten Oxford 2-1. The Stags knew that a draw would be good enough to achieve promotion on goal average. Stockport took the lead after 54 minutes, but Mansfield got the all important equaliser after 64 minutes from Sammy Chapman after a good pass by Ken Wagstaff. The Stags held on to get a 1-1 draw. And so they made it … just! It was Mansfield's first ever promotion since joining the Football League.

The Stags were back in the Third Division for the 1963/4 season. Cummings played in the first 4 games before hanging up his boots and concentrating on management. The Stags finished seventh that season, nine points behind promotion to the Second Division, which was a very creditable first full season for Cummings. Highlights of the season included Ken Wagstaff's 29 goals and Roy Chapman's 20 goals, plus an impressive unbeaten home record with 15 wins and 8 draws.

The following season, Ken Wagstaff was sold for a club record fee, and Roy Chapman also left. Nevertheless, the Stags did superbly under Cummings, with the goals now coming from his new signings Bill Curry and Harry Middleton. There were some hugely impressive wins such as 8-1 over QPR, with hat-tricks by both Curry and Middleton, as Stags chalked up the second biggest win in their history, and 6-1 over Southend with Curry netting 4. At Easter, the Stags were sitting second in the table (with two teams to be promoted to the second tier) and with just two games to go. Defeat in the penultimate game against leaders Carlisle left the Stags down in third place on goal average. Again it all came down to the final day of the season. The Stags needed to do better than second placed Bristol City. The Stags did their bit with a 3-2 win at Barnsley, and a story spread around Oakwell at the end of the game that Bristol City had dropped a point. Stags fans went wild with excitement, but soon the news came through that in fact the real result was a 2-0 win for Bristol City. As the excitement of supporters and players evaporated with the Stags missing out on goal average, Tommy Cummings philosophically stated “We hope to go one better next year.” It had been a fantastic effort.

1965/6 saw the Stags wobble and they escaped relegation thanks to three wins in the final five games of the season as they finished two points above the drop.

The 1966/7 season was another good one as Bill Curry and Stuart Brace notched 26 goals each. The Stags entered April with nine games remaining, in third place, but a bad run of 7 defeats, one draw and one win, saw the Stags finish ninth, six points behind second place. In the final game of the season, Cummings gave a debut to 18 year old Stuart Boam, who was later to become a Stags hero at centre half and then a Stags manager in the 1980s. It was to be Cummings' final game as in July 1967 he left to take up the vacant manager's chair at Aston Villa, and was replaced by Tommy Eggleston.

Tommy Cummings will always be remembered as one of the greatest Mansfield Town managers. All at Mansfield Town Football Club and the Stags Supporters Association send our condolences to his family.


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