{ the history }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Part Two - Progression and a new name (1903 - 1910)

by Paul Taylor and Martin Shaw

There was some progress made the following season when a very respectable third placing in the League was achieved. It could have been better but the club had twoTeam Picture from 1903 points deducted for playing an unregistered player, with those two points the Wesleyans would have been runners up. For this season also the Club moved to play home games on the Newgate Lane ground. There was a dip in fortune the following season with a drop to 5th place in the League. By 1905/6 the Club were back up to 3rd spot.  Changes were afoot in the summer of 1906, when the M & D A League dropped the 'Amateur' from their title the Hierarchy of the Methodists immediately disowned the football club and forbade them from being called Wesleyans. The Club reacted by changing their name to Mansfield Wesley and ceased to have anything to do with the church.  Now with a new name and openly professional Wesley moved into a higher sphere of football and joined the Notts & District League.  A creditable 6th position in their first season in the new league against superior opposition then previous years showed that the club has indeed progressed. Further evidence of this was the Notts FA now transferred them into the Senior Cup competition from the Junior competition of previous years. This season the Club played in its first ever cup final when they unfortunately lost to great rivals Mansfield Mechanics by a 1-4 scoreline in the Mansfield Hospitals Charity Cup.

1907/8 went in a similar way to the previous term when a respectable 5th placing in the League, but no success in either cup competition. The following year (1908/9) with some high scoring matches the team finished one place higher in the table.  Belper Town succumbed to eight goals in December and then in March Long Eaton St Helens let in one more as they went down 0-9. The chief goalscorer was a Hucknall lad named Jack Needham who notched an amazing 46 goals in the 35 matches he played. His haul included four goals on four occasions and a further tree hat-tricks. At the end of the season he had moved on to Birmingham and had a long and successful career in the Football League.  1909/10 turned out to be a very traumatic one for the Wesley. There was trouble off the pitch when Chairman,  Fred Abraham, and Secretary, James Marples resigned. Later in the season both were banned sine die by the FA for serious irregularities, it turned out that they had signed a player on the Sabbath, a heinous crime in those long lost days. The player they signed, William Whitby, was not disciplined but the Club lost two points for turning him out as an ineligible player. On filed Needham was sorely missed as the club dropped to 17th place, one off the bottom.  Another milestone was reached this season too when the Club entered the FA Cup for the first time. TTeam Picture from 1910hey played in six matches too before being eliminated by local rivals Mansfield Mechanics in the second qualifying round replay.  The summer of 1910 saw another important change, when at the AGM it was proposed that the Club change name to either Mansfield Town or Mansfield United. It was thought this benefit the image they were trying to project as the major club in the town. It was put to the vote and MANSFIELD TOWN was accepted as the new name. Mansfield Mechanics, Town's most bitter local rivals objected to this as they thought (probably correctly) that they were the premier team, however, their protest to the FA fell on deaf ears. To further project the new image a change of strip was also accepted and so the following season shirts and white shorts were worn.

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