For the fourth time ever in the entire Stags EFL and other competitions’ history, the Stags will play a League fixture on a Saturday February 29. This happened for the first time way back in 1936, when a Ted Harston strike wasn’t enough to prevent a 3-1 away defeat at Rochdale in the old division 3 (N). And on the other two previous occasions, in 1964 and 1992, the Stags played at home against clubs currently not in the EFL, namely Wrexham in 1964 and York in 1992.
On February 29, 1964, the Stags beat Wrexham at home to a 3-1 scoreline in a third level fixture thanks to strikes from Hall, Wagstaff and Chapman (R), the latter two being the last ones to each score 30 league goals and more for the same club and did so during the 1962-63 season in which the Stags gained their first-ever ELF promotion.
28 years later, York City fared even worse than the Welsh Dragons. The Minstermen were sent back to North Yorkshire to a 5-2 packing courtesy of two Phil Stant strikes, one apiece from Fairclough and Fee. An own-goal from a York player completed the Division Four rout.
Now, it will be the third consecutive February 29 Stags home fixture of out of three possible after WW II. And the One Call Stadium opponents will be the League Two leaders Swindon Town, the side the Stags faced in their first-ever League fixture way back in 1931 (see more below).
And by the time of the home preview last season, history was made as the then Stags manager, David Flitcroft, faced two of his former clubs in two consecutive home fixtures. Flitcroft, who managed against Bury on Boxing Day 2018 and three days later, he faced Swindon Town, the club he bossed before taking over the Stags following the departure of Steve Evans. And incidentally enough, the last Stags League Two defeat under Steve Evans was inflicted by David Flitcroft’s Swindon to the only goal of the game on February 10, 2018. In that fixture, last season’s Stags loanee Timi Elšnik played for Swindon as well as Matt Preston in what was to be his final Swindon game. While the Bury game was one of last season’s best ones, the Swindon home game ended in a dull goal-less draw. Just two months earlier, the sides played out a goal-less draw at Swindon in a game marred by poor refereeing and a horrendous red card to Will Atkinson, then at Stags.
And out of the Stags players appearing at County Ground in front of the previewer way back in April 2017, two are still around: Alex John-Baptiste for Doncaster, and Nathan Arnold for Altrincham, both having played at least one game this term, while one then Swindon player, Andrew Nicholas, was later to play 14 National League games for the Stags during the 2009-10 campaign before leaving for Barrow. Another one then starting for Swindon, later to play for the Stags that same 2009-10 season, was Blair Sturrock. From the then starting Swindon line-up, Michael Timlin has played for Stevenage and Lukas Jutkiewicz for Birmingham this season. Ex-Stag Lee Peacock starred for Swindon in front of the previewer way back in April 2007.
And Swindon were the first team to play the Stags in a league fixture and also the first one to be beaten by them. This happened in the Stags' inaugural league game in the old division 3 (S) on August 29, 1931, when 12232 saw the Stags win 3-2 with Joe Readman netting the Stags' historic first League goal and Harry Broome the other two.
The Stags' line up then, courtesy of the centenary book, was as follows: Wilson, Clifford, England, Wake, Davis, Blackburn, Gilhespy, Readman, Johnson, Broome, Baxter, while the Swindon team included a former Stag named Fred Laycock.
The sides did not meet again until the 1937-38 season when the Stags were transferred back into the Southern section after a couple of seasons up north due to the relegation of Bradford City and Doncaster Rovers.
Again, the Stags won at Field Mill, this time around to the tune of 2-0 on October 23, 1937, when Crawshaw scored one of his 25 league goals that season, Sams netting his first of only two league goals in his short Stags career.
Thence, the Stags had to wait 31 years and the 1968-69 FA Cup season for the next home win against Swindon, then flying high in the old Third Division, a few months later winning the League Cup as well as promotion. But on November 23, 1968, Dudley Roberts and Bob Ledger scored in a 2-0 victory in front of 5477, thus ending a miserable run with one point from five previous league games. Typically enough, the Stags also beat other promotion hopefuls as Watford, Luton and early pace-setters Bournemouth at Field Mill in the League that term which also was the Stags’ best-ever in the FA Cup. The 2-0 victory also ended a dreadful decade against Swindon at home as three consecutive home games were lost until a 2-2 draw on November 4, 1967, ending a run of six consecutive Stags league defeats.
On October 22, 1938, the Stags won at Swindon for the very first time thanks to strikes from Somerfield and Wilson to a 2-1 scoreline. From then on, the Stags had to wait 38 year for their next victory at Swindon (see more below).
In the 1970's, the sides also clashed. In the 1975-76 season, the Stags won both games, the 2-0 on March 27, 1976, scorers Laverick and former Swindon player Ray Clarke, being the fourth of seven straight away wins, and in 1976-77, a 1-0 win at Swindon, scorer Colin Foster on April 30, 1977, all but secured Stags promotion. One Swindon player then, Dave Syrett, went on to be the Stags' then record signing a few months later on the eve of the 1977-78 Second Division season.
And in the 1985-86 campaign, the sides were promoted together from the basement. While Swindon clinched promotion thanks to a 1-1 draw at Field Mill on April 19, 1986, the Stags clinched theirs thanks to a 4-0 home mauling of Hartlepool a few days later.
The sides also met in the 2002-03 season when both sides won their home game to a 2-1 scoreline. More details on these games are featured in the Match Centre. And more on some other games between the sides, including the Stags' inauguaral league game, are featured in the Vintage Stags section.
The latest Stags’ home victory against Swindon was secured in December 2006 thanks to first-half strikes from Richie Barker and Simon Brown, Barker’s strike coming as early as in the third minute. More on that game also in the Match Centre.
Earlier this season, the Stags were unluckily beaten by the only goal of the game at Swindon, exactly the same thing that happened at Cheltenham last Saturday. Meanwhile, Swindon have won two, drawn two and lost two out of their last six away games but currently look a good bet for automatic promotion. At the other end, Stevenage currently look doomed after a club-record seven-match losing streak and this season having had more managers than League Two victories, quite an unusual achievement. Currently, the Stags are thirteen points above Stevenage, who still have to travel to fellow strugglers Morecambe and Macclesfield before the end of this season.
This Saturday fixture will also on paper be a duel between the two top scorers in League Two, Eoin Doyle of Swindon and Nicky Maynard at the Stags. Doyle scored the winner against the Stags earlier this season down in Wiltshire. By that time, Doyle were to score in ELEVEN consecutive Swindon League Two fixtures.
The clubs have never faced each other in any cup competition over the years.
Played for both sides: Nicky Ajose, Calvin Andrew, Shayne Bradley, Frank Burrows, Colin Calderwood, Dave Caldwell, Michael Carter, Ray Clarke, Giles Coke, Dion Donohue (one EFL Cup game for Stags this season), Ted Dransfield, Timi Elšnik (pronounced ”Elshnik”), Fred Fisher, Jimmy Gauld, Kellan Gordon, Michael Graham, Darius Henderson, Arthur Hetherington, Jake Kean, Harry Keeling, Brian Kilcline, Fred Laycock, Martin Ling (later Swindon manager), Kenneth Mellor, Eddie Munnings, Andrew Nicholas, Iffy Onoura (later Swindon manager), Lee Peacock, Matt Preston, Jamie Sendles-White, Alan Sheehan, Blair Sturrock, Dave Syrett, Adam Willis.
Managed both sides: David Flitcroft, Danny Williams (had two spells at Swindon, left the Stags for his second spell at Swindon in 1974), Andy King (managed Swindon until early on in the 2005-06 season but was in charge of the Stags when Leeds were KO’ed in the league cup in 1994-95).
Some other famous names have managed Swindon. To name but a few: Ossie Ardiles, Dave Mackay and Glenn Hoddle. Also the FL record appearance holder for one club, John Trollope (770 games between 1960 and 1980, facing the Stags on a few occasions), was Swindon manager for a few years and bossed against the Stags when Swindon beat the Stags 4-0 at home on October 23, 1982. Another player (apart from Martin Ling noted above) with former Stags pedigree who has managed Swindon is Iffy Onoura, who were unable to prevent relegation in 2005-06. In fact, Onoura succeeded Andy King in the Swindon hot seat.
Home stats: P 23, W 7, D 11, L 5, GF 28, GA 27
Away stats: P 24, W 3, D 4, L 17, GF 21, GA 50
1931-32 3-2 1931-08-29 2-5 1932-01-02 Div 3 (S)
1937-38 2-0 1937-10-23 3-3 1938-03-05 Div 3 (S)
1938-39 1-1 1939-02-25 2-1 1938-10-22 Div 3 (S)
1946-47 1-1 1946-10-26 1-6 1947-03-01 Div 3 (S)
1958-59 0-0 1959-04-13 1-2 1959-04-22 Div 3 (old)
1959-60 1-2 1960-03-28 1-2 1960-04-23 Div 3 (old)
1965-66 1-5 1966-04-16 2-6 1965-11-20 Div 3 (old)
1966-67 1-3 1967-04-24 1-3 1967-04-11 Div 3 (old)
1967-68 2-2 1967-11-04 1-1 1968-03-30 Div 3 (old)
1968-69 2-0 1968-11-23 0-1 1969-04-22 Div 3 (old)
1975-76 3-1 1975-12-06 2-0 1976-03-27 Div 3 (old)
1976-77 1-1 1976-11-27 1-0 1977-04-30 Div 3 (old)
1978-79 0-1 1978-11-11 0-1 1978-09-02 Div 3 (old)
1979-80 1-1 1979-11-10 1-2 1980-03-22 Div 3 (old)
1982-83 1-0 1983-03-05 0-4 1982-10-23 Div 4 (old)
1983-84 2-2 1983-11-26 1-1 1984-04-29 Div 4 (old)
1984-85 0-0 1984-09-29 0-1 1985-02-02 Div 4 (old)
1985-86 1-1 1986-04-19 1-2 1985-11-23 Div 4 (old)
1986-87 0-0 1986-11-08 0-3 1987-04-03 Div 3 (old)
2002-03 2-1 2003-03-15 1-2 2002-10-26 Div 2
2006-07 2-0 2006-12-05 0-2 2007-04-21 League Two
2017-18 1-3 2017-10-14 0-1 2018-02-10 League Two
2018-19 0-0 2018-12-29 0-0 2018-10-20 League Two
2019-20 (at Swindon) 0-1 2019-11-23 League Two
Expect a good test on Saturday. Come on Mansfield!