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ANDY KING, 1956 TO 2015
29th May 2015 0:44

Andy King - profile of his time as manager of Mansfield Town
by Martin Shaw

Former Mansfield Town manager Andy King has died at the age of 58 following a heart attack on 27 May 2015. He had already recovered from a heart attack in 2009.

King was a larger-than-life character who took the Stags to the Division Three play-offs in 1994/95 as the Football League’s joint-top scorers, and a victory over Leeds United in the League Cup.

Andy King was appointed as Mansfield Town boss in November 1993. King, the former Everton striker, was a surprise appointment, with no managerial experience having been acting as commercial manager at Luton. However Stags owner Keith Haslam explained that King was “bubbly and the sort of person we need to shake the football club into life again.” Stags won just 1 of the first 8 games under King, but 4 wins out of 5 during February and March 1994 kept the Stags firmly in mid-table and coincided with the introduction of young striker Stuart Hadley alongside already-established Steve Wilkinson.

1994/95 was an exciting season as the Stags reached the play-offs and had a memorable victory over Leeds in the League Cup. Victory over Leeds was secured by a 1-0 win at Elland Road thanks to a Simon Ireland goal, and then a 0-0 draw in the second leg at Field Mill in the one of the finest nights in the club’s history. In the league, by mid December 1994, the Stags were below mid-table, but a spectacular run of 6 wins in 7 games scoring an incredible 27 goals, either side of Christmas thrust the Stags into the play-off places. The highlights were a 4-2 win over Chesterfield with a Steve Wilkinson hat-trick, a 7-1 win at home to Hereford with an amazing 45 yard free-kick from full-back Ian Baraclough, followed by a 5-2 win at Scarborough the following day. During this league run, the Stags also played in the 3rd round of the FA Cup losing out 3-2 to Wolves at Field Mill after leading 2-0. Striker O’Neil Donaldson, on loan from Doncaster, scored 7 goals in 5 games during this purple patch, but joined Sheffield Wednesday in a move that left a bitter taste in the mouth. Five more wins out of 6 during February and March left the Stags firmly in the play-off places. Despite only winning one of the final 9 games, Mansfield still easily reached the play-offs, where they played Chesterfield. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Field Mill, the Stags twice led at Saltergate before being taken into extra time at 2-2. Two sendings-off for the Stags turned the game into a night-mare as Chesterfield scored 3 times in extra time to win 6-3 on aggregate. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but Stags at least had the comfort of knowing that their incredible 84 goals scored was not bettered in the entire Football League. Wilkinson was leading scorer with 26 goals, followed by Stuart Hadley with 16, and midfielder Paul Holland with 13.

The side that reached the play-offs was completely broken up as Wilkinson left to join Preston, and goalkeeper Darren Ward joined Notts County. With Paul Holland having left as well, the spine of the side was completely broken, and season 1995/96 was destined to be a season of disappointment. The season got off to a terrible start and the Stags won only 4 of their first 24 games, to find themselves in the bottom three. By early October, Ian Baraclough had been sold to Notts County to remove yet more the previous season’s successful side. One of those 4 wins was an amazing 6-2 victory away to Wigan with a Stuart Hadley hat-trick. Hadley scored another hat-trick as Stags lost 4-3 against Chester at Field Mill. In the space of 7 days during October, the side lost 6-0 at Preston as Steve Wilkinson bagged a hat-trick, and lost 5-1 to Bury at Field Mill as Phil Stant scored 4 times. A slightly better second half to the season saw the Stags finish in 19th place in Division 3.

1996/97 got off to a bad start with no wins in the first 3 games, and boss King was sacked in August 1996. Haslam explained: “Andy’s enthusiasm lifted the club for a time, but I feel he has lost his way.” Meanwhile King said: “I love Mansfield Town and I am devastated by what has happened.”

Andy King will be remembered as a great character and a manager whose side played some of the most exciting attacking football the club has played in living memory.

photo below by Dan Westwell, Andy King getting a light for his cigar from a Gillingham fan:


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