Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write...
With just over 24 hours to go before the game, it’s still difficult to believe that premier league giants Liverpool are our opponents tomorrow – who’d have thought when we made the long trip to Workington in the fourth qualifying round that we’d go on to become David rather than Goliath.
For the first time in a very long while we head into a game with no expectation on us what so ever, however with the eyes of the world watching on, we can’t help but wonder if there is expectation on us after all - are we now expected to pull off an upset?
There’s no doubt what so ever that Liverpool are giants, a club with one of the richest and proudest footballing histories are held in high regard by every football fan up and down the land, tomorrow the magic of the cup has given us the opportunity to mix with such giants – is it enough to just rub shoulders with such a side or dare we even dream to make the most of our moment in the spotlight.
Like Liverpool we to have a story to tell, in recent years it’s been nothing more than a dull and dark tale which props up a coffee table, tomorrow has the potential to take our tale from underneath the coffee table and put it on every newspaper stand and every book shelf all around the world. Being honest neither of us have paid too much attention to the build-up, all the talk of the gaffer’s wedding (Congratulations by the way) mixed in with all the talk about money has perhaps taken the sting and the magic out of the fixture and the reward the beautiful game can bring.
Let’s approach it in another manner then, the fact is regardless of stature it’s a game of football where there can be just one winner – for Liverpool it could be the start of another run to Wembley after finishing runners up last season, whilst for us well, who knows? Just another story from our handbook of tales down the years or another piece of the jigsaw to our picture of potential success.
Liverpool have all the tales of Europe, the premier league, the league cup and naturally the FA Cup. They have all the Euphoria of Anfield plus all of those now famous faces to don the infamous strip down the years. That said, Mansfield Town have had their days to – that little club on Quarry Lane maybe small in stature, but boy do they harbour big dreams and ambitions. To some this may seem like a collection of words on a screen to others that have followed the story in recent years this will be a collection of words that have a true understanding and meaning. The point encase you are wondering is tomorrow can be more than just the day Mansfield play host to Liverpool.
Usually when writing these previews it’s easy to judge what we will be facing, tomorrow is a different kettle of fish – who knows what side Brendan Rodgers will bring. Something somebody said to us at Alferton on New Year’s Day is quite poignant here no matter who takes to the field for Liverpool they are all representatives of one of the biggest football clubs in the world embrace the fact that your mixing with history, don’t harbour silly dreams of players doing a trick or two, focus on what you are good at: winning matches. It’s not until now that we understood what this meant but now it makes clear sense, we might not be the best team in the world but on our day we get results – tomorrow the ground will be packed and the world will be watching on mainly because of the Euphoria of Liverpool we ask now if you’re in the Mansfield end focus on Mansfield Town and support them in their efforts. This is a club and a team that thrives on love, encouragement and belief – if you demonstrate those three elements in the stands tomorrow then knowing Paul Cox and the players; they’ll give you a day to remember.
Not for a second do we want this to sound negative or even demining to the magical day itself but Stags harbour more than a pipe dream, they have ambitions of promotion and league success as well – what we are trying to say above is enjoy and remember “the day we played Liverpool” but also if you can help this little club keep more than one dream alive.
For now it’s a question of waiting and then enjoying as events unfold around us – just remember to ask yourself as those turnstiles click behind you and the smell of Bovril whiffs up your nose, is today just a day or is it just a stitch in the Stags tapestry.
The FA Trophy semi final against Luton and the play-offs against York last term don’t even compare to tomorrow it’s not do or die it’s not kill or be killed it’s just another game. As you sleep tonight and dream of what could be, remember the feeling remember the magic and take it with you wherever you go watching Stags – it’s true we deserve a day in the spotlight whatever you do sing loud and be proud, of Mansfield Town FC.
LAST TIME WE MET
Stags and Liverpool have brushed shoulders in a cup competition before, in September 1970 Liverpool arrived at Field Mill for a league cup second round tie, the Stags coming extremely close to causing a huge upset, Dudley Roberts netted what he thought would be the winner late on only to see the referee rule out the goal. Still it was a pleasing result for The Stags who held the division one side to a goalless draw to earn a trip to Anfield.
Those who can remember the game will remember it well as Stags where leading 2-1 with 9 minutes remaining that was until Clive Walker was judged to handle inside the box. Tommy Smith tucked away the resulting penalty to set up a tense finish, the game headed into extra time with Alun Evans netting what proved to be the winner for Liverpool at the end of the first half of extra time.
The sides haven’t met since and if tomorrow is anything like those meetings in the early seventies, then we will all be witness to an FA Cup classic.
Following New Year’s Days 3-0 win over Alfreton defender Ritchie Sutton returns from suspension and could be in line for a recall, newly married Paul Cox has everybody bar Ross Dyer at his disposal and in our opinion has some bid decisions to make following the success of that 4-2-3-1 system.
If your unable to get to tomorrow’s sold out fixture then be sure to log on to our MM-LIVE page for regular updates, build-up for the 4pm kick off starts at 3pm with Craig, who should be joined by the Chad’s Stephen Thirkill.
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