It’s not uncommon for people to sit and remise about bygone days. Watching old videos, listening to Audio, reading articles, looking at photos – or whatever, memories last a lifetime and tomorrow as the football cycle ploughs on – two old faces return in a showdown that will be bittersweet.
Paul Cox and Adam Murray are two icons in my opinion, what you have there is two names, two men, two heroes – who we have to thank wholeheartedly for getting us to where we are now.
I’ll say this now, and will argue to death over it – anyone who boo’s either Cox or Murray tomorrow is NOT a true supporter.
You see the problem with football is, it’s fickle – people remember the negatives and nit-pick, it’s almost like they’re immune to the positives. When both Cox and Murray left the club, it was after a particularly hard and frustrating and tense spell – but it was so sudden, there was never a chance to say goodbye and more importantly ‘thank-you’ either it was just ‘the end’.
Now call me over passionate or whatever but when you achieve what Cox and Murray achieved, both deserved the respect of us saying thank-you. The arguments I know will be more about Murray and that he achieved nothing by way of trophies or success as a manager – sadly I saw little of Murray’s final few months in charge, but his job as a manager and achievement too in fairness, was stabilisation.
Murray, or to give him his proper title, Mr Mansfield Town took a brave step into management with a club tattooed on his heart – and like so many club legends before him at clubs across the land, risked losing the on pitch respect he gained by stepping into the dugout. We must not forget what he did for us as a player, as a captain – and that my friends, is keep a promise and deliver.
Week upon week, Murray would run through reinforced concrete walls for MTFC, often having been injected prior to kick-off. His passion would lead us, would motivate us and carry us through in times of need. Those tears post York on the pitch we’re real tears of pain, the promise he made me afterwards of promotion the following season – was not words to console a broken Craig, they were words of hope from a broken man, fed up of feeling pain.
Those tears he cried when lifting the conference trophy above his head were real tears of pride and jubilation, it was never about silverware or chasing success for Adam Murray – it was so much more.
He put that into his managerial career and you could always see how much it hurt not being able to influence a game on the pitch itself, I swear down he’d two foot a fourth official to get on the pitch!
There was the ‘falling out’ with Cox, but we all have tiffs and disagreements – there pairing worked and I’m so glad for Muz now that he’s linked up with Paul once again after a spell at Boston as manager which, I’m sure he’ll admit, was a learning curve.
Every captain needs a good manager, that man was Paul Cox who said the first time I met him “success is built on strong foundations”. Having arrived from Eastwood after many successful years, it was still a shock appointment which many questions – but arguably to date, the best appointment made by the Radford’s – and yes, I include Steve Evans in that.
Cox took a broken Mansfield Town and re-built it, picking it’s supporters up from the floor after a turbulent couple of seasons and after three seasons of us all wondering if we were destined for the conference, delivered the most emotional and thrilling seasons I’ve witnessed as Stags fan.
People complained about the football and in the early months, questioned the appointment – but the fact is, we showed patience and in the end IT BLOODY WORKED! We weren’t ready for the Football League in 2011-12 and as I’ve said before, the heartbreak of the play-offs made us stronger and more determined for the following season. Yes, we got lucky in a way, yes we dragged ourselves across the line – but we did, and because of that are in a much better shape now.
Cox was asked in a recent interview if he made a mistake in leaving, I always think he did – but sometimes, you need to let go.
We are ready to take the next step which Steve Evans is at the helm to do, and naturally I want to see us progress tomorrow in the FA Cup against the non-league side, but don’t for a second write them-off, and don’t for a second think it’ll be an easy ride.
Cox and Murray in the game will no doubt frustrate supporters, it’s the games passion of course but just remember this - Paul Cox delivered promotion, FA Cup joy, Football League status and Football League stabilisation, as did Adam Murray.
We would not be where we are today and have this huge opportunity to develop in the future had it not been for Cox and Murray, so please – be upstanding and applaud, no matter the result, no matter the game really – be upstanding and applaud two heroes, two icons, two legends and two men who refused to let Mansfield Town Football Club die.
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