As Clipstone’s Worksop Van Hire Stadium plunged into darkness at half-time last night, there was certainly some irony because despite the sheer blackout like I’d been on take me out, there was light in what was a phenominal display of community spirit.
The hearts of the community sank a year or so ago when it looked like Clipstone as a club we’re finished, yet as the set-up from Blidworth moved across – the cobras we’re given a second chance.
And then just over a month ago, mindless vandals ransacked the Clipstone club-house, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage – deflating the clubs soul once more. Mansfield Town had no obligation whatsoever to offer to help, but did as Steve Evans picked up the phone and arranged a fixture – promising to send a first team along.
He stuck to his promise, as would 90% of managers to be fair – but one thing the other 10% wouldn’t do is instruct the players to put on a game, it was clear to see that the instructions from the kind-hearted but firm scot were ‘Full pace, we’re not here to make the numbers up, go and get yourself into the side to play in the cup.
Mansfield’s players responded to the instructions and on a freezing cold Tuesday evening where many players would show a total lack of professionalism, the Stags went out and played if they we’re playing a competitive cup final. It was humbling too see.
The blackout at half-time which also knocked out a neighbouring street was of course a disappointment, over 400 fans had paid through the turnstiles to support Clipstone and not ONE person complained that the game had to be abandoned due to a lights failure, which didn’t just effect the floodlights, but dressing rooms etc – staff we’re holding phone lights so both sets of players could change into warmer clothes, whilst as the pitch plunged into darkness with a local set of children’s clubs playing during the break, spectators did the same so that they could be safely escorted off - it was a real community effort and showed one message: no matter what you throw at us, you will never break us.
On the pitch, the Stags started 11 senior players and named a further three on the bench with a couple of the more senior youngsters and it showed, against a team to be fair, who are competing one or two levels higher than expected due to the club move.
Clisptone could have taken a very early lead but drilled into the side netting of Bobby Oljenik’s goal as Mansfield struggled to find their feet, and to be fair had a good amount of chances and did themselves no disservice whatsoever in between Mansfield’s goal glut, which statistically reads a goal every 6 and a half minutes – any chance we could have that Sunday?!
With Zander Diamond and Rhys Bennett in fine form in the league, Kyrstian Pearce has been kept out of the side since serving a games ban for five yellows, yet he sent a message to boss Evans watching, and bellowing, on from the stand – anything Zander can do, I can do too – opening the scoring from Alfie Potters 12th minute corner.
Calum Butcher then made it 2-0 as he trapped Mal Benning’s deep cross well inside the area before powering into the roof of the net from eight yards, before Paul Anderson staked a claim for spot-kick duty, dispatching a penalty after Benning was tripped to make it 3-0.
The best was yet to come from both Butcher and Anderson though, Butcher made it 4-0 with a well struck dipping half-volley before Anderson showed Danny Rose how to properly score an over-head kick, the skipper for the night chesting the ball down inside the box with his back to goal, flicking the ball up before doing a full flip to hammer in from 14 yards out for 5-0.
Alfie Potter made it 6-0 with a mouth watering cut in and curl effort before Butcher completed the hat-trick right on the stroke of half-time, smashing the ball in from around the penalty spot after a left sided cross.
7-0. Lights Out. Game Off. Job Done.
Paul Digby – Krystian Pearce – David Mirfin – Mal Benning
Jack Thomas – Calum Butcher – Will Atkinson – Alfie Potter
Paul Anderson © - Jimmy Spencer
Unused Substitutes: Lee Angol, Omari Sterling-James, CJ Hamilton [YOUTH] Wilson, Healey, Wilder
A huge congratulations to Clipstone for staging a really enjoyable night, obviously they’ll be gutted not to have completed the game, but I’ve no doubt that if not this season, than certainly in pre-season they’ll be another game with a strong stags side. Football is more than just about winning and losing, it’s a community and as last night proved, there’s light – even in darkness.
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