Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow night’s home encounter with Championship side Derby County....
My last visit to the One Call Stadium was a business meeting a few weeks prior to pre-season’s kick off, reasons and details of the meeting are irrelevant as, with less than 24 hours to go before seeing action on the hallowed turf once more, I’m reminded of a memory from my meeting and a thought.
I was sat at the back of the Quarry Lane Stand and looking out on the then empty pitch, to my left obviously was the Ian Greaves Stand which I remember seeing packed full when we entertained York City on May 7th – I remember walking around the ground that day looking at the faces, some new some old, all we’re filled with looks of hope, anticipation and belief. I then looked across at the empty North Stand and remember the scenes of joy from the York faithful, another glance to the West Stand and hello painful churn in my stomach!
A week later it was off to Leamington and now, a few more weeks on from that day at the One Call I look ahead to tomorrow’s game in anticipation, but for once not the anticipation you may suspect. Sometimes after a painful blow you look forward to certain matches or going to certain places to banish demons, whilst a little part of me wants to do the same tomorrow night, I think i’m just looking forward to seeing the home crowd back the boys, enjoy the evening and enjoy this refreshing feeling of not dwelling on past failures.
I’ve said it before about the signings and mindset of Paul Cox but as yet have mentioned nothing in the same magnitude surrounding the players. Having watched the four matches so far and have cast my eye over the new and old faces I can say that each and every one of them has their mind in the here and now rather than reliving that sour memory which so many players and clubs do. If anything, we seem to have taken the defeat to the eventual play-off winners as inspiration, a lesson to learn rather than a wrong to right - that’s so refreshing to be coming back home tomorrow night without that memory, that weight.
Despite having already taken in four matches so far, I’m mightily excited for tomorrow nights match, there’s something about home comforts! Whilst you guys will be looking forward to hearing the click of the turnstiles, the smell of the One Call Bovril, the smell of One Call Bovril lingering over as you catch up with familiar faces etc – I’ll be looking forward to the walk to the press box, taking my seat (ish, see below!) and doing what I love most in my safe haven! Each and every one of us will have a reason for going home tomorrow night, a win would be wonderful!
Our opposition are Championship side Derby County. The Rams had a solid mid table finish last term and will be looking to kick start their pre-season schedule with a win as they aim for promotion to the premier league this coming season. Under the guidance of former Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough, the Rams will be tough to face up to and the Stags will have to dig in deep if they are to continue the progression they’ve made so far in pre-season, racking up some 360 minutes of football without conceding against some tough sides with good attacking reputations.
Clough’s Rams side is beginning to take shape nicely with the recent addition of Coventry skipper Richard Keogh a statement that Clough is looking to tighten up a defence which conceded 58 goals last term. Keogh’s influence will help develop the youngsters in the squad such as our former defender Tom Naylor, who departed for Pride Park midway through last season. Another familiar face returning to the One Call Stadium is our former skipper Jake Buxton who will be looking to use this pre-season as the final phase of his recovery following an injury which kept the 27 year old sidelined for some 18 months – The Stags front line will match up against a very strong defence.
I’m hoping for an enjoyable evening in which the Stags give a good account of themselves, if we can use the two pre-season home matches to build up the phenomenal supporting vibe we had towards the back end of last season then even better, this is a really important season for us as we all know and I’ve no doubt that our progression will continue!
A slight change to the coverage tomorrow night as we head over to StagsPlayer for one night only – I’ll be bringing you full match commentary of the evening but please be aware that to get commentary, you must be subscribed to StagsPlayer you can do so by clicking here
I’ll be joined by a number of guests throughout the night – same show, same banter, same theme – different place, be sure to join me from around 7.15pm.
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