Craig Priest reveals more of his favourite moments from the 2011-12 season on the road with the Mansfield Matters Team....
Two weeks today I’ll be back in a press box, head set on, loads of random notes on my lap and an electrical current of wires running beneath my feet – brining you all the action as football returns at last!
These final two Saturday’s however will be tough and I can’t help but get nostalgic over what has been my first full (complete) season in radio, spent with great friends watching the team we love doing the job we all enjoy – there is no greater feeling, especially as the memories and stories we’ve collected along the way will last a life time no matter what happens in the future.
With pre-season around the corner, in the coming weeks this website will go back to previews, opinions, reports etc so today is pretty much my last chance to share some of those (repeatable) stories with you, so sit back and enjoy some more fables from the Mansfield Matters Commentary Team....
Take That CD hell
Those of you who follow me on twitter etc will be aware that my musical taste is not the greatest, in fact quite a few of you would probably have me shot for what’s on my MP3 player – those of you that have heard the music on the shows during the latter end of the season pretty much have Briggsy to thank for choosing something more modern, I can’t repeat what he said the morning I told him we’d start playing music on the show!
Anyway, I hold my hands up and say that now and then I do listen to ‘Take That’ however after a trip to Forest Green Rovers back in October, I don’t think I’ll ever listen to the sounds of Barlow and the boys again!
It was already a weird, stressful day with James having gotten us lost and went on an attempted pheasant killing spree ....oooh don’t forget the boiling hot weather! What you need after that is the PA system to play some relaxing music, they did at first at 12noon way before the punters came through the turnstile, putting on ‘Take That’s’ album ‘The Circus’ which does actually have some relaxing songs for an occasional listen, however after the final track had finished the CD didn’t change to your usual standard football music, it went back to the start and the volume turned up a notch – this particular CD is half an hour long and the same pattern continued right until kick off, so by the time 3pm arrived I’d heard the same CD on a loop getting louder and louder nearly six times – in that heat, after James had nearly murder the entire life stock of the region and gotten us lost AGAIN – Take That on a loop was enough to send even the most calm person insane.
Because of that day I know the track list off by heart and have never listened to my copy of the CD again... All I can say to Forest Green is that particular day wasn’t the Greatest Day of my life, anytime I hear the name Julie said over and over by Mark Sodding Owen I turn into a killing monster that would Not be relaxing by spending time in The Garden. I was so crazy that day I most probably would have joined The Circus....
Ok that’s enough song CD gags now – oh How did it come to this...! Moving on....
The Rushden/Kettering Seat Steal and wacky races
Going to an away ground you have to be polite and respect the host clubs wishes, nine times out of ten you can pretty much sit where you want in a press box unless you’ve been allocated a set slot to comply with what you need, EG Power, ISDN, Phone. Sometimes though most clubs are flexible and, so long as you’re not breaking health and safety rules, pretty much let you get on with things.
My pet hate is “indoor” press boxes, which is a booth at the back of the stand with Perspex plastic windows, designed to keep the press warm and safe from flying footballs which is fair enough. It’s very rare nowadays to see these as, like at the One Call Stadium clubs have transformed a row of seats into a press area – in fact last season only three clubs had a “indoor” press area, Barrow, Bath and Kettering, who played at Rushden & Diamonds Nene Park.
When I arrive at grounds with an “indoor” press box the first thing I do is look for a seat and power point out in the open stand because, in my opinion, if you’re in a enclosed area commentators and journalists have to talk over each other and with no crowd noise, which makes for an awful show. The trip to Kettering, well Rushden! In April was Briggys’ first away game and he naturally wanted to be enclosed away from the home supporters who he was convinced would ‘stare him out if he said anything bad’ – after explaining about the difference in audio qualities and plying him with Jaffa Cakes, we set up outside and we’re having a generally nice time until a member of the Kettering press came and informed me I was sat in someone’s seat who wouldn’t be very happy! Me being the kind person I am apologized in a Simon like way off the inbetweeners, and said I’d move after my next link. Ten minutes later the Kettering guy had clearly chosen to wind me up with Briggsy by pretending the guy whose seat I’d taken was a beast and one of the most feared ex-players around the local area, I even went to the extent of goggling him to do my research – fact! When the guy in question arrived and saw us set up in his seated area, he marched over and threw his bag on the floor and went on a Boris Becker style rant before taking the piece offering Jaffa Cake Briggsy offered and bursting out laughing with the other guy who’d set out this ‘he’ll kill you’ type story – it turns out it was his seat but he didn’t care as the pair pull the same routine on visiting journalists at every opportunity they get! ... I thought the stupid pranks would stop when Jeremy Beadle died!
It turns out he was a really nice guy and was really easy to chat to despite the full time score seeing his team relegated.
So far on that day, I’d be robbed of Jaffa Cakes by James and Briggsy, fooled in to believing I had a contract out on my life, accused of drawing a deformed Stag on my note book by James and had seen my boy’s romp to a 3-0 victory – what else could complete my day? Oh yeah, driving back with Briggsy we passed James on the motorway and decided to give him a “friendly” pip and wave – James somehow took our acknowledging hello as a sign for a race, one Briggsy wouldn’t back down too! For about half a mile on a clear motorway you had James in one lane and us in the other trying to get ahead of the other, Naturally James won toying with us after it took Briggsy some three miles to actually get level with James, before the latter just put his foot down and flew off into the night – I’m seriously not safe in a car no matter whose driving! It was like a scene from Wacky Races, thing is I can’t work out whose Dick Dastardly, whose Mutely and whose Penelope Pit stop!
Wrexham shopping spree
Well that’s nearly it for this mini-series of stories, however there is one more to tell and it stems from a question I was asked the other day ‘What are you looking forward to the most about football returning?’ – Obviously I can’t wait to get the headset on and ramble on for 90minutes and do all the work that comes with it, however I think I’m most looking forward to the half time refreshments which has become a regular feature on our travels ever since one night in Wales.
Ahead of the trip to Wrexham in September I decided to take a flask of hot chocolate due to being short on money and therefore unable to buy a half time drink. After picking everyone up, myself and Scott decided to pop into Pound land on the retail park for some supply’s for the trip, we walked round literally like kids in a sweetshop, filling the basket with everything we could – we must have spent about £15 between us! We had cake, muffins, jaffa cakes, rocky bars, vimto sweets, fizzy laces – you name it we had it! Arriving at the ground we entered with two bags of radio kit and two full of snacks (Which we had to pretend was radio kit)! Obviously our spend was excessive and we toned down for other trips but it’s safe to say now that a double packet of Jaffa Cakes, a packet of Rocky’s or KitKats and a huge flask of boiling hot water follows us around in a bag full of hot chocolate mix and plastic cups which other members of the Stags press have decided to use as their own refreshment bar! Infact Mark Stevenson the clubs press officer no longer asks how we are upon arrival at various grounds, he just asks if we’ve brought the hot chocolate and Rockys – I wouldn’t mind if I got any for myself but by the time James, Briggsy, Scott and Mark have raided the stash, all that’s left is the wrappers!
Next season I’ll have to introduce a payment system eh! .... and yes guys if you are reading this wondering if the half time refreshment bar will return, I think you can take it is a given – it wouldn’t be Mansfield Matters without that would it!?!
And so that’s it I’m afraid, thanks for reading our little stories, I hope that next season provides many more and that my final memory will be dancing in celebration with my friends and colleagues rather than cowering under a table in tears! That’s another story for another day as we begin to preview pre-season over the coming weeks!
I hope you’ve again picked up some vital information from today’s fables, if ever you hear a CD you like at a football ground spare a thought for those broadcasters etc that have hard it at least four times already.... If you are going to set up at an away ground, always check you’re not stealing someone’s seat, never get involved in a drag race between James & Briggs and finally, if you do want something from Craig’s bag of half time goodies – please form an orderly cue!
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations – to submit a piece for publication email your work to email@example.com
Craig Priest shares his views on this week’s news from the One Call Stadium...
Another week draws to an end however I’m actually glad to see this back of this one as pre-season is creeping ever closer, in fact as I write at 2.15pm the exact count to kick off at Leamington is 15 days and 45 minutes!
The count to pre-season has become more and more on my mind this week as not only have I been in endless meetings and had several email exchanges to sort out coverage, news from the One Call Stadium has been pretty rare! Whilst I’m on the subject of coverage it’s only fair to update you – an official announcement on the coverage from us (Mansfield Matters / Takeover) will be made next Friday.
Onto the news from the One Call Stadium this week then, other than the usual plugs to sell the excellent range of sponsorship packages and the month by month reflection of last season, there has only been three more additions to the class of 2012-13, as Paul Cox welcomed defensive duo Lee Beevers and Andy Owens to the club on Tuesday, also adding former Eastwood assistant Richard Cooper to his backroom team as first team coach.
First and foremost I must stand and applaud Paul Cox, not only has he pulled off a magnificent coo for the club and filled the gap left by the departed Luke O’Neill, he’s given us Journalists some potential ‘close to the wire’ headlines and phrases – ‘Cox’ & ‘Beevers’ .... I’ll let you draw your own conclusion on that one!
No joking aside, this is after all a family show! This is a fantastic capture and again credit to Paul Cox, selling a season in the conference over a season in league one on better wages must have been tough, however the 28 year old right back opted for the One Call Stadium despite the offer of a contract renewal from Walsall, with whom he played over 40 games last season in the same side as former Stags keeper and hero, David Grof – maybe he put in a good word?!
Lee is probably best known for his time at Lincoln City, having been at Sincil Bank for five years during which time he collected numerous club awards and became one of, if not the best, right back in the lower leagues. Lee’s other clubs include Colchester United and Boston United the latter the first club he became settled at and still remains a fans favourite despite his final appearance for the Pilgrims being in 2005. The prospect of seeing Lee in the amber and blue is an exciting one, I said this last week talking about George Pilkington – our defence is going to be so strong, so immense and so difficult to break down. Our defence now consists of Ritchie Sutton, John Thompson, Luke Jones, George Pilkington, Jobe Shaw (Youth team graduate) Lee Beevers and the other new boy Andy Owens – One more defender that can cover all positions in the way similar to Ritchie Sutton and our back line is complete.
Andy Ownes arrives from Southport much to the displeasure of Southport boss Liam Wastson who has been highly critical of both Andy and the move he’s taken stating it’s one that will not progress his career. I can understand Watson’s frustration as Owens, along with Simon Grand along Godfrey Poku (who we’ve also nicked!) was pretty much key to Southports impressive 7th placed finish, however being critical of him and throwing the toys out of the pram is pointless, get on with it – get out there and sign someone else, we did! 22 year old Andy is a product of the youth system and comes into the “cursed” slot – left back! He’s a very quick, attack minded full back with a relatively long throw, we’re not talking Geohaghon style but it’ll still cause damage if we need it too. Unlike Lee Beevers, Andy arrives with only one full season under his belt, last terms 39 appearances in the Yellow of Southport having not settled at Stoke City, Leek Town, Stafford Rangers, Altrincham, Rhyl or Accrington Stanley – however we all know what Paul Cox is capable of in terms of giving players opportunity, love and most importantly, games! I look forward to watching him develop and prove Liam Watson wrong!
The final addition this week as I mentioned was too the back room team, Paul’s former assistant Richard Cooper quits Coronation Park to join us as first team coach, the post of assistant of course already taken by Adam Murray. The 32 year old was initially favourite to take the assistants job last summer when Paul Cox departed Eastwood for Stags, however secure in his other job he opted to stay there rather than make the move with Paul which led to Micky Moore taking the post. With Micky now back in his old job along with a part time job as number two at Newly promoted Nuneaton, Cooper completes the new look backroom staff as first team coach. I think this is the first time Stags have ever had a proper back room coaching structure, it’s never usually more than manager and assistant, so to have manager, assistant, first team coach and general coach is refreshing and in turn, hopefully make us a more structure, disciplined side as we aim to move forward.
Well that’s it this week, fairly quite – I doubt next week will be though as I’m told the lads report back for pre-season training, the hard work begins at last... it won’t be long to the football starts either – yippee!
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest reviews this week’s news from the One Call Stadium
Another week passes slowly by as pre-season draws agonisingly closer, and as with every week this close-season so far, it’s been one which hasn’t been short of news and talking points.
After a weekend of sending well wishing messages to the no departed Luke O’Neill, news of a replacement on Monday failed to come and the only thing to reflect on at Monday tea time was the fact that our pre-season schedule altered as our proposed trip to Worksop Town was cancelled no big loss really and as we’ll come to later on, the gap has been filled.
A day of no transfer activity on Monday was passed with a little giggle as it was revealed that the Stags players would be swapping the shin pads to cricket pads, taking on Mansfield & Pleasley CC in a 25 Over match on Sunday 8th July. When I was younger, before I found a love for all things football, my summers where spent with my dad playing and watching cricket. I was the scorer for a few teams in a bid to improve my awful maths skills, for some reason I stopped liking cricket and actually now pretty much detest it, however for one day only I might have to head down and watch the game, maybe do some broadcasting on it, I’ve always wondered if my football commentary skills could transfer to another sport. Of course it’s not unusual for football clubs to take on cricket clubs for open days etc, I remember back in the summer of 2008 when our then relegated players took to the cricket pitch, Stevie Dawson’s bowling is something nobody watching that day will never forget, the less said about Jason White’s fielding the better though!
Moving swiftly on, the rumour mill has been spinning the words ‘Marquee Signing’ over the past few weeks, the double swoop of Luton pair George Pilkington and Godfrey Poku on Tuesday saw that rumour become fact. 30 year old centre back George has been keeping Luton together for the past few seasons, skippering the side for the past two seasons, it’s the capture of him which is this summer’s ‘Marquee Signing’ so far, in my opinion George is one of the best defenders in the league and could easily be playing league football, getting his signature is a massive piece of business for the club and sends a clear message to the club that we mean business. When you look at the defence we have now, the sheer presence and experience will worry opposition, we will be very hard to break down next season. The defence is of course yet to be complete with the definite need for a left back and maybe another utility player as cover. Personally I’ve spoken to a few people about our defence and one name that doesn’t get mentioned is John Thompson, I think next season will be a massive one for him after the awful ride he went on last term. He will look at it as a new lease of life and approach it as if he’s just signed, working hard to get into the side and keep his place – I’ve a feeling he will come in and revert to the role he played as title winning skipper of Notts County at right back, with Luke Jones and new boy Pilkington providing the strength in the middle and a new, left footed quality left back completing the back four – what a defence that would be! When you take into consideration Ritchie Sutton and possibly Martin Riley in the mix as well, we are stronger than we have been at the back for a very long time.
The second player to join alongside Pilkington is Godfrey Poku, because he signed with Pilkington he’s kind of snuck under the radar and little as been said about him. The 21 year old began life in non-league football with St Albans City in 2009 before joining Luton in 2010, agreeing to join the hatters despite interest from football league clubs after trials with Reading, Leyton Orient and Southend United. Despite the move to Luton Godfrey found himself back out on loan, a month with the club he joined from, before a run in the Luton side and then last season, a very successful loan with Southport, who he helped to finish in 7th place, a season after their reprieve from relegation. Godfrey, who can be found on twitter for those interested, is a very good player who will be very similar to Anthony Howells style of play – this can only be described as a good thing right?
Strengthening the first team with experienced players is all well and good, however Paul Cox is also keen on the progression of home grown players, handing four youth teamers professional deals on Wednesday. Hit man Adam Somes, winger Joel Holland, defender Jobe Shaw and familiar face Scott Rogers were the ones to sign deals, having watched them over the past season in my role as youth team correspondent for the club I can say that all four deserve deals and have the ability to develop further into good players. Everyone knows what Adam Somes can do, he the one scoring for fun in the youth league last season, finishing with some 24 in all competitions, a feat which didn’t go unrecognised, making a first team appearance in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Fleetwood. Joel Holland is the one to have a hand in most of Adam’s goals, a quick left footed player who can beat players and get a cross into the dangerous areas. Jobe, who was skipper of the youth team last season, is a natural leader and reads the game very well for a young player, a very able player in the air and playing on the deck. As for Scott? Well I guess with all those Mansfield tattoos the gaffer had to sign him really! A great lad whose been a joy to work with, on the pitch for those who’ve not seen him, he’s a tough tackling no nonsense player whose range of passing is excellent – playing mainly as a defensive midfielder he does get forward now and then. I’m delighted not only for Scott knowing how much a deal means to him, but for all the lads who had an excellent season last term and deserve the opportunity to go out and develop further.
Along with the four young guns putting pen to paper, it was revealed today that goalkeeper Shane Redmond has agreed terms for another season, last season wasn’t the best for him with just one first team appearance at Kidderminster, however with the reserve team now ready to go, Shane will keep fit and undoubtedly be pushing for a first team slot.
The big news this week was that assistant manager Micky Moore has decided to move on, taking up his previous job as a college tutor along with a coaching role in part time football, with a young family on the way I can fully understand his reasons for moving on and providing security for his family. I’ve been privileged t speak to Micky on many occasion and watch him work on the training ground, his departure is a massive loss and I genuinely wish him all the best for the future. Stepping into his shoes is the perfect candidate, someone who loves the club, who loves football and whose passion and desire for success shines through into everything he does, step forward Adam Murray – agreeing to take on a player-assistant role. Again I’ve spent time with ‘Muz’ and I’ve full confidence that he will form an even stronger bond with Paul and as ever, strive to make our beloved club a successes. He may lack in managerial experience but I couldn’t care less, it doesn’t worry me – Adam’s character and philosophy is the perfect fit, I genuinely can’t think of a better person to take on the role of assistant manager. Paul Cox mentioned in his interview today that Muz was going to join the coaching step anyway, that opens the door for a new captain – my money would be on John Thompson or George Pilkington, however I daren’t rule out Adam not playing as much, he will fight for his place and, like Andy Todd, provide excellence when he does make the starting eleven.
One man I mentioned there was Andy Todd, this week he has also agreed to stay on in his role as player-coach, another fantastic piece of news.
Rounding things off this week I eluded to filling the gap in pre-season early on, it was announced earlier today that we will take on Blue Square North side Gainsborough Trinity on July 20th, 7.45pm kick off at the Northolme ground. Last season Trinity lost in the play-off final to Nuneaton and will provide a very stern test for us just a day after a trip to Shepshed Dynamo. The match will also see a few familiar faces up against their former club, Paul Connor, Ryan Williams, Jason White and Jon D’Layrea to name a few. I’m hoping to have news about coverage in the next week or so as I appreciate pre-season is just around the corner, to view the pre-season schedule and the latest squad list for the 2012-13 season, click here.
Well that’s it for this week, thanks for reading and as ever keep interacting on facebook and twitter.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related companies – to submit a piece for publication, email email@example.com
Craig Priest rounds up the latest news from the past week at the One Call Stadium...
Well it’s been a relatively quiet week at the One Call Stadium this week which I guess is what you’d expect from time to time during close season. With one player coming in and just one going out as we expected for a while, this week has been more about ‘what if’ and rumours.
Kicking the week off was another signing, Paul Cox added Kidderminster striker Nick Wright to his squad on Monday afternoon. As with all the signings so far, Chris Clements, Jamie Tolley and Luke Jones to recap, the gaffer has brought in some real quality, adding to an area that in truth, we we’re a bit short on without Matt Green – something which painfully shone in the play-off second leg with York City. Ross Dyer is without doubt an excellent player in the squad and I’m a big admirer of his, the work rate he puts in often goes without the credit due, he can play as a target man and he can play with the ball to feet and in fairness, can score some quality goals. However if I were to answer how you’d get the best out of Ross, it’d have to be as a target man and as an advanced playmaker so to speak. I’ve been editing the goals of the season video for the website this week with the help of Martin Shaw, the amount of goals Ross creates with his play is 75-80% of Matt Green’s final tally. The addition of 24 year old Wright is a perfect one in terms of how we play, he gets into key areas, puts himself about and is a natural born goal scorer, if him and Green can hit it off we could get at least 50 goals between them – add to that the goal input from Dyer, Rhead, Hutchinson and other areas of the pitch, going forward we will be a difficult side to face.
One man’s name I mention there seems to split a few opinions, Ben Hutchinson in my opinion can prove quality and deliver the goods in the same way Matt Green has. I first watched Ben play in a mid-season friendly with Eastwood where he scored two absolute belters – it wasn’t this that impressed me if I’m being honest, it was his all round play, his movement in and around the box, his control, his vision and unselfishness and his work ethic. Put the lad on a football pitch, give him regular games and keep his confidence and demeanour in a controlled state and you’ve got an excellent player, the reserve team will be key to revitalising Hutchinson in the same way Paul Cox rebuilt Green into the machine we now see.
Speaking of the Reserve set up and the influence that could have, Paul Cox mentioned earlier in the week that four Youth Teamers would be offered senior contracts; whilst they are yet to be signed I would imagine this to be done by the next time I post a weekly update. The four young guns were all key to the pursuit of the youth league title last season will presumably go into the aforementioned reserve set up and continue their development. As youth team correspondent for the club I’ve watched these boys play and can say that we are taking on four talented players with the potential to play at a good standard – I look forward to seeing the names confirmed and will obviously write more about them in due course – as with everything this week really, it’s news but it’s not news!
Along with the young quartet being offered deals, Cox mentioned in an interview that assistant Micky Moore and player-coach Andy Todd have been or are in discussions regarding a new contract, a subject I covered in my chad article this week both in print and online.
The Stags boss eluded to a packed pre-season campaign potentially having two games in one day, sending a reserve side somewhere. I think the reserves will see a lot of competitive football next season and won’t just be used in the reserve league, I think they’ll be given a shot at a cup run with the FA Trophy changing it’s schedule this week. The final will take place earlier than usual, with the two teams lucky enough to grace Wembley fighting it out for glory on Sunday 24th March. Whilst the FA have brought the first round forward to 24th November the tournaments format has not changed which means the possibilities of replays and subsequent rearranged games having to be fitted in at a crunch part of the season. It will be no problem for us with our evident big squad size and reserve set up, however for other teams who have lower budgets and a small squad, football will come thick and fast and potentially have a dampening effect on all. If the tournament was to change and follow in the structure of the Johnston’s Paint Trophy and scrap replays with matches drawn after 90minutes going straight to penalties, the change in dates wouldn’t be a problem. Because of the potential clogging of fixtures I think our ‘Reserves’ could well be the team to try and better our Trophy run of 2010-11 – maybe more on that another time.
Also this week I see Paul Cox has backed the proposal for a ‘three up, three down’ system in between the conference and the football league. Recently discussed at the conference AGM I know the conference chairman is keen to actually make this happen which is good news, not only does it make League Two more of a fight for the struggling clubs in the final month or so, it gives hope to clubs in the conference which is the hardest league to get out of. You look at last season as a prime example, Fleetwood were class and deservedly sealed the title which in turn made other sides work harder but because of the limited promotion space neither Wrexham or ourselves had a shot of automatic and ultimately both lost out in the play-off semi finals. Will Wrexham have enough to give it another go and reach that high points total, who knows.
Finally the week ended with the news we’d been expecting for sometime as today, Luke O’Neill completed his move to championship outfit Burnley for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be around £200K.
Luke, who won your votes by a mile for ‘Mansfield Matters player of the season’, was always destined to play at a higher level and would probably have moved on even had we won the play-offs and been a League side next season. Always putting a shift in with an attacking and defensive quality in equal measure, it’s no doubt he’ll be a huge loss and Paul Cox will be very lucky if he adds a player of the same calibre, that said I’ve every faith he can and we already have plenty of options in there at right back with Ritchie Sutton, Luke Jones and John Thompson all able to play there, the latter a league two winning captain with Notts County playing 80% of the season at right back.
Before I sign off this week, let me just point you in the direction of a post I posted midweek, an excellent range of Stags programmes are on offer by a fan, with the collection ranging from the 50’s to the present day, click here for more details.
That’s it for this week, I’m off to watch the England game now! Have a great weekend everyone and remember that Mansfield Matters is on Facebook and Twitter throughout the week, the conversation need never end.
The views expressed in the publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations. To submit your own work, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest reveals some of his memorable moments on the road with the Mansfield Matters team...
I’m often asked what the best thing is about being a commentator, sometimes it’s the football and getting to whiteness glorious matches and moments, but as I’ve remembered today midway through editing our ‘2011-12 Goals’ audio, it’s the banter between the boys which makes every show thoroughly enjoyable.
Sometimes it’s the slightest of things which are remembered, for instance all season long I’m constantly reminded off Hednesford away during pre-season when a Tom Naylor clearance knocked my headphones off – well today I get revenge, it’s not just me that has the odd awkward moment on air! Here are a few of my favourites...
Scott’s pink shirt love
As you’ll all be aware, Scott’s been fore filling every boys dream this past season by donning the infamous amber and blue, rightfully picking up the player of the season award along the way. However at the start of the season Scott was still dreaming of a run outfield after originally signing as a goalkeeper, meaning he had to put up with the Grey top and have no colour to his match days. A trip to Barrow mid-September gave Scott other ideas as first team goalkeeper Alan Marriott ran out the tunnel sporting the now famous pink strip, I’ve never known Scott so in awe of something, in fact his drool nearly electrocuted us all. It’s difficult to explain why the moment was so awkward and funny, however there are times as a broadcaster as in life when you say one thing and everyone knows what you’re saying, but they way it’s said makes the whole situation funny and awkward, a prime example is the phrase “there sneaking in around the back” or “the penetration of this time takes my breath away” – there is so much innuendo between commentary teams no matter what match it is there watching.
As I mentioned it was the audio from Scott’s declaration of love for all things pink which has led to today’s blog, as a special treat we’ve made it available to listen too by clicking HERE
During the same commentary we we’re discussing the work rate of defender Ritchie Sutton, this lead to another awkward moment as Scott described, in somewhat graphic detail, his “encounter” with Sutton in the gym earlier in the week, the phrase “he’s got a great physique” may have been taken ever so slightly out of context – fortunately for Scott I can’t find the relevant bit of audio at the minute!
Nick Hegarty’s my brother & voldermort
Obviously I never let Scott forget his little bit of innuendo amongst other, unrepeatable, things – however that goes both ways as over the course of the season I’ve had my share of awkward moments, one in particular during a mid-season friendly with Eastwood when Scott noticed a resemblance between me and Nick Hegarty who’d just signed a short term deal. Obviously with the crowd being a little on the small side and the game being a little lacklustre due to its nature, jokes we’re flying around – first we we’re both being quite childish and embarrassing a girl we knew with more innuendo commentary lines, getting points for the bigger laugh from those around – my gamble on the girl watching Hegarty change backfired with Scott chirping in with the comment surrounding looks and the matching ginger hair. From there on in, every time he touched the ball or was included in a Stags side, the ginger jokes we’re out in force! Fortunately Nick, or Craig, moved on at Christmas and failed to feature more than twice.
During the same game Stags we’re casting their eye over a trialist whose name Paul Cox didn’t want to be revealed on air, you may remember us changing his name to ‘Voldermort’ and me throwing in a few puns here and there, click HERE to hear more from both incidents.
Get out my cupboard!
It’s not only on air where things can get awkward, I promised you I’d write about myself and Wayne’s trip to Kettering and will do during the week, however looking back over the season I remember another moment when things got a little awkward – an august bank holiday in Stockport for one.
Stockport is one of the rare clubs to have an area for press and photographers to grab a refreshment, creating a little room underneath the stand which in fairness was quite cosy – when I arrived I found James Williamson and Scott say with their feet up eating custard creams. At half time we went back down to grab a cuppa however I discovered that there we’re no cups left, I was told to look in a cupboard by a fellow member of the press and had discovered a couple of mugs only to be shouted out like a naughty school boy “get out of my cupboard!” Needless to say we didn’t get a cup of tea during that particular half time interval and, not one for being caught twice, have since opted to take my own refreshments which James, Scott and Mark Stevenson (the clubs press officer) tend to raid at the half time break. Not contempt with taking my stash, James and Scott have also landed themselves in hot water by going in random rooms at various clubs over the course of the season, I have to say I haven’t been with them when on the search for tea, however I’m told there marked men at such places such as Southport.
James’ love for all things Andy Todd
As you can imagine there are plenty of tales to tell with me mainly being the subject of the joke, I’ve revealed an admission from Scott today so it’s only fair to do the same about James.
Similar to footballers on the way to training, we tend to car share with James and besides getting lost, often enjoy sensible conversations about team selection etc. On the way to Kidderminster at the end of the season we knew there’d be changes because of the play-offs and Andy Todd’s name came into the mix. What was said by James was said in such a way it’s unrepeatable, let’s just say that James was trying to make the point that Andy Todd keeps his fitness up, it sounded so different and made Scott’s pink shirt and Ritchie Sutton love sound tame.
Let’s just say that James took it to another level which will scare all involved for life – at fear for your own sanity I will not repeat what was said. However in a bid to squash certain rumours, James was at the centre of a whole new storm days later on the way home from York.
At the local McDonalds we we’re enjoying a nice late snack when we noticed James heading back to the counter to order more food and subsequently flirt with the young lady behind the counter. Sat around the table we’re myself, Scott, Wayne and two others who, with childlike mentality, showed James up with comments which went around the table, each of us trying to better the other and not ruin it – easier said than done when eating Ice Cream! We we’re there for a good half hour with this continuing as everyone else left, in the end there was our group, the young lady and the store manager left in the store, a middle aged unimpressed man with a face like thunder. As we finished our meals in the midst of innuendo inspired laughter, we decided to set a then single James up, writing his name and number on a piece of paper ripped from a food bag, making sure the young lady wasn’t looking we placed the number at her till and promptly left the store, leaving just James inside! Fortunately for him, he left in the nick of time as the number was picked up – mid sprint back to the cars, we explained what we’d done; unfortunately the rest of this story will have to be left to the imagination as again it’s pretty much unrepeatable from that point onwards – be assured folks that we won’t forget that nights events in a hurry and won’t let James forget either!
Truly great times and there are plenty more in the locker maybe for another day, just remember folks that if you’re ever in the same Gym as Scott, it’s best to keep your distance – if you ever see a footballer with ginger hair, we are not related – if a footballer ever has magical powers, the Harry Potters books could actually be fact rather than fiction and last but by no means least, if you happen to work in a McDonalds, be prepared to receive James phone number on the corner of a Doughnut packet, that lads got romance in his soul!
Until next time, thanks for reading!
The views and comments expressed in this piece are those solely of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations. To submit a piece for publication, email email@example.com
Craig Priest rounds up the lasts weeks’ activity from the One Call Stadium...
With no Stags games to look forward at the weekend for a while, it’s time to bring back an old feature which fell by the wayside when we introduced the popular match preview – ladies and gentleman I present to you, the Mansfield Matters Weekly.
Reviewing the recent events at MTFC, the MM-Weekly is the one place where every key bit of news is reviewed and discussed; don’t forget as ever you can join in on facebook and twitter
Let’s kick things off this week by having a look at the three signings made by Paul Cox ahead of next season, accumulating today in the return of much loved and highly rated defender Luke Jones on a free from Kidderminster Harriers.
Last Friday saw a double addition to the midfield with Chris Clements arriving for an undisclosed fee from pre-season opponents Hednesford Town, and Jamie Tolley making the switch from Wrexham on a free. The duo add real quality to a midfield which is bursting at the seams with talent already, both players offer so much in different ways and will undoubtedly be key to the flexible system a league champion needs.
Its former Hednesford man Clements that excites me, a good ball player with strong vision and an eye for a pass, Chris was the standout performer in last season’s pre-season meeting between Hednesford and ourselves, having a hand in both goals for the Pitmen. Not only does Chris offer the creative and defensive side of the midfield, he has the positional sense to pick up second balls on the edge of the box and have a go himself with a decent return. Starting his career as a youth teamer with Crewe Alexandra, Chris failed to get a real first team run and was loaned out, gaining experience in the non-league pyramid with Nantwich Town and Stafford Rangers. A 14 game loan spell to Icelandic outfit IBV in 2009 was followed by an initial loan spell with Hednesford before a permanent move in the summer of 2010 following the expiry of his Crewe contract. Clements became a firm fans favourite at Keys Park and finished the 11-12 campaign with 15 goals from 47 starts, his departure described by Pitmen boss Rob Smith as an “Irreplaceable” one with the Keys Park gaffer describing our new boy as “Inspirational”.
I look at Clements arrival as one similar to Anthony Howell last pre-season, he wasn’t expected to do well and was judged by his lower-league experience and by his very brief spell with us some years before, he defied all critics, myself included, to be one of the best players in our play-off campaign, keeping his head down working hard to be ready to produce when called upon. I’ve a feeling Clements will do the same and with the addition of the reserves for the coming season, will benefit more with regular competitive football on offer.
Jamie Tolley during his Wrexham days
Moving onto Jamie Tolley who arrived at the same time as Clements from Wrexham, turning the welsh clubs six month offer down to sign a year’s contract with us. Jamie is the coins flipside in terms of a comparison with Clements, the latter playing the majority of football in non-league circles whilst Ludlow born Tolley has only spent two seasons outside the football league having joined Wrexham following a trial spell in the summer of 2010. Playing in a Wrexham side which finished fourth and second respectively, Tolley knows what it takes to get into the play-offs and will bring that knowhow to the One Call stadium to help us go one step further. At 6 foot 1 inch tall Tolley brings some height into the midfield and will be a handful from set pieces, both on and off the ball as the former Wrexham man can hit a sweet dead ball. Starting his career at Shrewsbury in 1999, Jamie capped by Wales U21’s on 12 occasions, racked up just shy of 200 appearances for the shrews before joining the other MTFC in the summer of 2006. Playing over 60 games for the Silkmen, Tolley’s next stop was Hereford, departing for Wrexham after just 10 appearances during the 2009-10 season.
Luke Jones during his first spell in the Amber & Blue
Today saw Luke Jones return for a second spell in the amber and blue, joining on a free transfer from Kidderminster who we beat on the final day of last season. Luke first joined us in the summer of 2009 turning down an offer from Kidderminster to link up with David Holdsworth. Arguably the best player of a season of nothingness, Luke shone at the back and was probably as stunned as the rest of us when David Holdsworth released him after just the one season with Jones playing 27 games netting four goals. Moving onto Forest Green Rovers, Luke established himself quickly and donned the skipper’s armband, his Rovers debut against us on the opening day of the 2010-11 campaign. Despite scooping player of the season at the New Lawn Club, Luke moved back to Kidderminster captaining on and off in a season which Kidderminster lost out on the play-offs on the final day. Unlike the other two additions we know what ‘Jonah’ can offer and are delighted to see him back, as I mentioned, he should never have left. With John Thompson fighting fit and like a new signing next season, I somewhat drool over the prospect of seeing the two together, add to that a potential partnership with Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster and Exodus Geohaghon you’ve got the foundations of an outstanding backline, if we can add a natural left footer who can defend and attack at ease then we’ll have a real conviction about our side – the added bonus in the addition of former Blackburn Rovers trainee Jones is that, like Thompson, he can also play at right back giving Paul Cox more room for manoeuvre – something about Jones and Cox’s personalities and styles tells me they will get on well.
Moving away from signings and looking at the social network, I see Anthony Howell and Alan Marriott have both been under the knife today, Howell posted on his Facebook earlier that his operation was a success whilst the result of Marriott’s knee operation is unknown at the time of writing, of course I on behalf of all at Mansfield Matters, wish them both all the best on the way back to fitness – Marriott’s probably too busy watching his saves of the season to tweet at the minute!
As the senior England team prepare for Euro 2012 under Roy Hodgson, let’s send our congratulations to our very own international star, Lindon Meikle completed 78 minutes for the England C side in Russia on Tuesday. After an excellent debut season for us and after penning a contract extension, Lindon donned the famous number seven shirt as the three lions crashed to a 4-0 defeat in the International Challenge Trophy.
Before I end this week and watch paint dry, literally as I’ve painted MM-HQ this week, as the clock to pre-season slowly ticks by, I’m glad to see that the season ticket pricing issue has been resolved, under 16’s can now pick up a season ticket for £80 following a rise in price to £186-£230. Hats off to those at the club that have made the decision, now the politics have gone let’s keep buying those tickets and sell as many seats as possible ahead of the 2012-13 campaign.
Thirty-Five days until our pre-season campaign kicks off with a trip to Leamington, be sure to check out our Stags 2012-13 page for a full list of fixtures, please note the away trip to Worksop Town has had a change of date, it will now take place on Friday 20th July, kicking off at 7.45pm meaning three friendly’s will now take place over four days... BRING IT ON!
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of the Mansfield Matters Weekly, be sure to pick up a copy of Wednesday’s Chad for my latest column and keep your eyes posted on this website for more content from the Mansfield Matters team.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations. To submit your own work, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest reveals some of his memorable moments on the road with the Mansfield Matters team...
So far in this miniseries I’ve written about travelling to the game and experiencing road rage and have spoken about some of the people I’ve shared the seasons journey with – today I truly delve behind the scenes and reveal some of the more interesting tales of how the Mansfield Matters show actually gets on air, those of you that think it’s simply a case of turning up and pressing a few buttons are in for a shock – if only it were that simple!
Covering the Stags this season has been a pleasure and like everyone else I have people that I look up to, admire and aspire to be like, however sometimes I wonder how those covering the premier league and championship would cope outside the football league as quite often, conference grounds don’t have the best of facilities! I must get on record that there is always someone willing to help from every club hence why our coverage both of league matches and friendly’s has continued throughout the season, I’d very much like to thank them for that, however you still have to be prepared for a challenge from the moment you press ‘Send’ on your email requesting press passes – I may joke around and moan a little, sorry dad and everyone that’s took an ear bashing, however I think the challenge of actually getting on air in the first place, has made the job more rewarding and the season more enjoyable. I’ll hold my hands up and say I’ve had sleepless nights before games wondering about what I’ll face to bring coverage, sometimes I’ve woken up in a cold sweat, no matter how twisted this sounds – I can’t wait to do it again!
Chasetown holds memories dear to me, yes Barrow was where I was discovered and made my radio debut, but Chasetown’s scholars ground was the place I did my first solo live full match commentary in the FA Trophy quarter final during the 2010-11 campaign, to this day I’ll never know how I got through it not just because of the nerves, but because I was full of flu, could hardly speak, had a throbbing headache and had a nose like a running tap, I woke up the next day slightly high after a concoction of Power-Aid, pain killers, soothers, energy tablets and vics vapour rub had finally taken their toll! Because I couldn’t remember a thing about the scholars ground I was delighted when we had a pre-season friendly with them last season, this time it was a beautiful warm August day rather than a misery midweek evening, however any chance of a pre-show relaxing sit in the sunshine was scrapped upon entrance to the ground where I discovered a lack of press facilities as the area given to us during the cup match had been handed back to the fans and the press hut moved to allow redevelopment of the ground.
The press hut had been placed in the corner of the ground and offered just one seat, taken by the PA announcer, what were we to do as covering the Stags were three other journalists. In this job we stick together and the essential thing for any modern day journalist or broadcaster is power, nobody likes handwriting a report to type it up later, especially with deadlines to meet, whilst nobody wants to listen to full match commentary done from a mobile phone – I don’t like the phone bill either! In search of a power point I found two, one was offered through a kitchen window to the seats we had in the trophy, however this was to be a last resort – the other was in the press hut in the far corner which had a sheltered seated stand behind the goal and an open terrace, with a side view of the pitch – having experienced the nightmare of commentating from behind a goal at Boston the previous week, I opted for the open terrace and ran a 50M blue extension cable along the floor and the side of the pitch to an area with a decent view.
The next problem was desks, we had far too much equipment between us to simply hold and work – off to the supporters bar to borrow a few tables and chairs, the locals were fantastic in helping us manoeuvre them to and from the bar, amidst bemused looks though as none of them could really see the draw of this mammoth effort for a pre-season friendly! My power cable despite being extraordinarily long only had one working plug socket; we needed at least six so began linking smaller extension cables into each other, you’ve not seen wiring like it, All this from a man who at school preferred writing and acting in the Drama studio (well classroom with a wonky table and effects light) to messing around with a soldering iron. A few things I’ll never forget about that day in Chasetown, my equipment being on a wonky workman’s painting table, the looks from the locals who enjoyed laughing at my ‘genius’ as much as we enjoyed the banter and the worry at half time when it started drizzling, it’s a miracle really we’re all still alive to tell the tale.
It wasn’t just pre-season where press box problems arose, in fact in this division if you’re not armed with a long extension cable and a bit of creativity, you won’t get anywhere – something proved at Braintree in just our second away trip of the season back in August. It’s all well and good having the aforementioned things however sometimes there no good if you can’t even get through the gate. I tend to book my press passes nice and early to give clubs notice and take into consideration the relevant clubs, if I don’t get a reply I tend to worry as I can get paranoid and certainly was on this particular afternoon, being so new to them game I just needed to know our email had been seen – a yes coming finally as we we’re halfway there following numerous phone calls meaning I could relax and enjoy a pre-match McDonalds, however my paranoia made me head straight for the ground and boy was my paranoia correct! After parking up and being given a space due to our name being on the parking list as requested, we all headed towards the gate and found a gentleman sporting a high-visibility vest holding a clipboard with a biro behind his ear. “Hi mate, Craig Priest from Takeover Radio” I said in my usual friendly manor, the reply was “Not on the list, turnstiles are round the other side” obviously I opposed this statement and argued our case, which basically meant pointing at my name on the sheet! Even then I wasn’t allowed in with the radio kit, being told the press box was full I was told I had a complimentary seat and that the kit would have to remain in the car. Eventually I marched in cursing WITH the kit whilst Scott and my dad waited outside and I’m told, comforted a crying James Williamson who was also refused entry with his camera and had been sat on this grass banking having a breakdown for the best part of an hour. Inside the ground I dropped the stuff next to the press box and hunted for power, all of which had been taken – more cursing followed before Scott walked in having basically sprinted into the ground with James after clipboard man had gone for a cuppa, challenged only by another steward who said “yeah it’s fine!” in regardless to them being in the ground with the press. Technically we can work without power but the standard of coverage one I’m not happy with and after Stephen Thrikill from the Chad had also arrived in a similar “you’re not on the list” fashion, we decided to “do a Chasetown” and make our own press box in the seated area with power from another source, trouble is bar from the press box there’s very rarely a power point in the stadium elsewhere.
Eventually after seriously considering wiring ourselves up to a burger van, we found a power point in a turnstile just down from the seated area and asked if we could use it, fortunately the guy said yes and plugged the 50M blue cable in. My dad spotted us and then helped sort the wires out, going over the top of the turnstiles and then throwing the now live cable over the top of the porter-loo’s through some tree’s and into the stand where we did the rest with a maze of other wires! I’m amazed how nobody got an electric shock and at how the whole thing unfolded from what was animosity at first into a rather pleasant afternoon, it’s just a shame that we only took a point home. Again I’d like to get on record how helpful the Braintree staff we’re in helping us to resolve the issue during a time they where upgrading the amount of press seats and power to meat conference regulations.
The season just gone has seen us do literally anything to get the show on air, from wiring up a turnstile to postponing an afternoon’s dominoes by taking a table or two at Chasetown! We’ve also had times where we’ve been sat on a wooden bench with complex wiring, saw bags and boxes used as desks and sent people into fits of rage because of our choice of seats – that one a story for another day!
I hope that any broadcasters out there looking to cover the BSBP have taken notes, always have these essential tools, a LONG extension cable or three, a spark of creativity and charm, a calm nature and most importantly: LIFE INSURANCE! There are lessons to be learned too, always check things twice, avoid men with an NVQ in clipboard management and most importantly; never expect things given to you on a plate, if you want to feed on the rewards you need to face the challenges, rise too & concur them. I value my job highly and am so grateful to those who lend a helping hand, I can’t wait for all of this to start again in pre-season remember the golden rule: THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
Reflecting on things now, not only must I remember all of the above, I must also remember that if I’m ever out in town and a girl turns the tables and uses the old classic chat-up line ‘are you can electrician because when you walked into the room you sent a current racing through my body’ on me, I must remember to smile, say no and respond with something equally cheesy rather than say ‘this one time, in Braintree...’
Until next time, thanks for reading.
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