Profile of his career so far. While SSA steps in to provide TV show with his shirt.
By Martin Shaw
The Stags have had a good record of producing high quality centre-halves who have gone on to have careers in higher divisions, or even play at international level. Stuart Boam, Mick Saxby, John McClelland, Colin Calderwood, and Simon Coleman have all come through the ranks at Field Mill, and brought-in in excess of £1million to the coffers of the club.
Young Alex John-Baptiste is believed by many to be every bit as good as the other young players at a comparable age.
John-Baptiste made his debut at the age of 17, on the 19th April 2003 in a disastrous 1-0 defeat against Barnsley at Field Mill in the old Division II. John-Baptiste had an outstanding game. He earned the man of the match award from the CHAD, the Evening Post, and Stagsnet. Meanwhile assistant manager John Gannon described his performance as “magnificent”. John-Baptiste partnered Adam Eaton in central defence with both Rhys Day and Keith Curle out injured. Two days later he played again in a 3-3 draw at Blackpool, this time partnering another young debutante Jake Buxton in central defence. Five days after that the Stags were relegated, with John-Baptiste playing in the abandoned game at Tranmere. He was the Stags best player in the half of football that was played.
John-Baptiste played the remaining two games of that season, and before the final game, against Northampton at Field Mill, he received the Jack Retter Youth team player of the season award from Paul Taylor.
At the start of the 2003-2004 season, John-Baptiste’s chances were surprisingly limited. Prior to mid-March, he started just 3 games, at home to Yeovil (where he was outstanding) and Southend, and away in the memorable win at Cambridge after two players were sent off (and where he was also outstanding), while coming on as substitute in just two others. He went out on loan to Tamworth and then Burton Albion to get first team experience with manager Curle saying it would be difficult for him to get a place in the side with Rhys Day and Dave Artell doing a great job and Luke Dimech equally capable.
But after getting his chance as substitute in the 3-0 defeat at Bury in mid-March 2004 where he came on at half time in a midfield role and was Stagsnet man of the match, he went on to hold his place for the final 11 league games of the season, plus the play-off encounters. He was the Stagsnet man of the match at Cardiff, though he had previously had a stroke of luck in the 90th minute of the semi-final second leg at home to Northampton, where video evidence clearly showed he fouled Derek Asamaoh in the penalty area, but escaped without conceding a penalty.
He generally played in central defence and was remarkably consistent, earning an average Stagsnet player rating for the season of 7.80, putting him well ahead of any other player, and had he played enough games to qualify, would have pipped Liam Lawrence to the Player of the Season award.
This season, John-Baptiste has finally become a regular in the side, and scored his first goal in the recent 2-2 draw with Lincoln at Field Mill.
John-Baptiste has received national fame, courtesy of Sky Sports TV's popular Saturday morning show Soccer AM. Last season, he was sponsored by the programme, though presenter Helen Chamberlain was none-too-pleased when John-Baptiste made a fantastic last minute goal-line clearance to preserve a Stags victory against Helen’s beloved Torquay United at Field Mill.
This season, Soccer AM wanted to continue their sponsorship and had to buy back the sponsorship from Headstart Unisex Hairdressing Salon, who had already secured the sponsorship. Meanwhile, Tim Lovejoy, the other presenter of the show had called the football club a "disgrace" when it sent the show a shirt with no number and no name on the back, claiming it to be John-Baptiste’s shirt.
The SSA then stepped in to ensure that Soccer AM received a shirt, complete with name, the number 15, and John-Baptiste's autograph.
Below is a transcript of the most recent show:
Helen Chamberlain: "Now more on the story of getting our Baps back. Last season, Soccer AM sponsored Alex John the Baptiste from Mansfield Town. And as you know, unfortunately this season, without warning he was pinched of us by Tracey Moore who runs Headstart unisex hairdressing salon in Mansfield precinct [shows picture of salon and another picture of Tracey in action].
It turns out Tracey didn't even want to sponsor Baps in the first place, she wanted Keith Curle's son, but she handed over the 170 quid for our Baps anyway. Now last week we offered her £171, plus two Wheatsheaf t-shirts and to come on the show as a stranger on the sofa.
Tracey buckled and gave our Baps back. Baps himself was so pleased to be back in the Soccer AM bosom that he scored his first league goal for the club [shows goal action] just for us. So, we're happy, Tracey's happy, Baps is delirious. But what about the club, are we actually allowed our Baps back just like that? Well we checked with Mansfield."
Mansfield quote: "If Tracey is happy with it, we're happy it. And by the way, I heard we got some stick about the shirt we sent. We sent a new one because we have changed shirts since last season, and anyway, sponsors don't get an actual match shirt. Those are auctioned off for charity at the end of the season."
Helen: "Ahh. 'Cos that's what normally happens if you sponsor a player, you get the shirt off their back at the end of the season. But fair enough... We do now own a real Alex John the Baptiste shirt because yesterday the official Mansfield supporters club sent us one [shows this season's yellow shirt with number 15 and name John-Baptiste on the back, and signed on the front]. There it is. Thank you very much. The accompanying letter shows it is official, from the Stags Supporters Association [shows letter on SSA headed notepaper, the letter starts: Dear Tim and Helen, Please find enclosed a home shirt for Alex John-Baptiste on behalf of all supporters of Mansfield Town]. Thanks very much guys."
John-Baptiste, from Ollerton, was born on 31 January 1986, and has signed a deal keeping him at Field Mill until 2007.