Former Mansfield Town striker Paul Connor says he’s delighted to see how far Chairman John Radford and CEO Carolyn Radford have guided the Stags, having followed the clubs development closely since his departure.
Connor, who signed in the summer of 2010 prior to the Radford’s arrival thanks to invest from supporters group “the 12th Stag”, believes the now Chairman has performed the kiss of life on the club – which is now going in the right direction.
Speaking in the latest Mansfield Matters ‘Stags Stories’ the fans favourite said “I still follow it [the club] closely through twitter etc, I have to laugh to be honest because when John [Radford] took over the pre-season when Paul Cox came in, I look at the lads now and they’re getting picked up in Rolls Royce’s enjoying ten days in Portugal – in our pre-season, we played Boston and had a night in Skegness! so the difference there straight away even in that sort of thing, the players must be loving it!
“The club was having a hard time [prior to John Radford’s takeover] but the players didn’t really realise it until the season got going.
“I don’t think it’s a secret at how close Mansfield were to maybe going into administration if they [the former owners] didn’t get a buyer and it had started to drip feed into the players.
“I remember the whole takeover. We played York City I believe and the manager at the time David Holdsworth actually said ‘look lads the clubs close to folding here – it’s that bad, but there’s a guy coming to watch you tonight whose thinking about buying the club’ and that was in the team talk.
“He more or less said you’ve got to play well tonight and put on a performance otherwise this guy might not buy it [the club] – we went out and played like Brazil, beat York 5-0, I think it was one of the best performances of the season!
“It was John [Radford] who was in the crowd, he came down to training the next day and it [the takeover] was starting to go through – I don’t think we won a game after that! I think at the time he [John Radford] watching that game thought this is good but with the results which followed, it started to really hit home how hard it [rebuilding the club] was and how hard the club had been hit.”
Now aged 40, Connor is still playing part time and is beginning a transition into management as player/ assistant at West Auckland Town – with the Stags being his last full time professional club.
During his hour long interview on the Mansfield Matters Podcast, the front man reflect on his decision to move into the part time game, plus speaks openly about the heartbreak suffered by the players on the big stage in the FA Trophy Final, which came at the end of Mr Radford’s first season as Stags boss.
Since the Trophy final, Connor has watched the Stags gain promotion to the Football League and says he was gutted promotion to League One didn’t quite happen last time around, a feat he believes can be achieved this season.
Stags Stories with Paul Connor will be out via all podcast apps at 5pm on Friday 5th July.
Former Mansfield Town defender Martin Riley says he’s never known an opponent like Ilkeston’s Gary Rickets, as he reflected on being one of three Stags players injured by Rickets during a pre-season friendly in 2011, as part of a brand new Mansfield Matters podcast ‘Stags Stories’.
Riley had just joined following spells with Kidderminster Harriers and Cheltenham Town, when Paul Cox’s Mansfield took on Ilkeston Town during preparations from the 2011-12 season, a match which would send shockwaves across the footballing scene as one player put three Stags players in hospital.
Now 32, Riley has just joined Conference North outfit Hereford, but despite a number of honours and highs during his playing career – can’t shake the memories of that ill-fated night, where Cox withdrew his team from the field of play after 73 minutes following a horrific injury to John Thompson.
“I’ve never had an experience like that in my life, three players sent to hospital in one pre-season match was just crazy. He [Ilkeston’s Gary Rickets] was out to hurt people for whatever reason, he had one on him, and I’ve not played against many Footballers in my whole career really who I can say ‘Yeah, he was out to hurt people’ but he was definitely out to hurt people – and he did”
The popular central defender required five stiches just above the eye, whilst fellow defender Richie Sutton ripped two tendons in his shoulder. However the worst was still to come when former Nottingham Forest and Notts County man Thompson was sent crashing at pace into the metal pitch-side advertising hoardings requiring several stitches to the inside of his mouth along with damage to his nose – an injury from which Riley feels Thompson never fully recovered.
“Mine and Sutts’ [Richie Sutton] injury you can kind of take on the chin to a certain extent but what happened to John was disgusting and ultimately, and I think he’d probably admit this as well, it probably finished his career.”
Thompson did eventually recover and went on to help the Stags back into the Football league but after a prolonged lay-off, whilst Riley was back in time for the season’s opener against Bath City – helping the Stags to achieve a play-off finish, before he moved onto pastures new.
Riley didn’t stay away too long, spending a season at Wrexham before returning to the Stags who were now a football league side, spending two further seasons with the club.
Speaking in the brand new ‘Stags Stories’ podcast – the defender who became a firm fans favourite reveals all about his two spells with the club, revealing stories from within the dressing room which included how he, Richie Sutton, defender James Jennings and the rest of the squad taught the youth team a lesson for not following ‘footballers food etiquette’ – how midfielder Gary Roberts enjoyed a cigarette or two on the team coach, how an innocent cup of coffee got him ejected from York City, and how the Stags rampage towards the play-offs, earned Riley a pretty penny!
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