Up and down the country, with Christmas just around the corner, there are many people rehearsing for this year’s Panto, hoping to give everybody a dam good laugh. Tomorrow, in front of the watching nation – the Stags have a part to play, but it will be attitude which defines the part.
Within our squad we have plenty of players who have played at high levels, at clubs with nice, tidy facilities where things are generally done for them – they are used to a certain level of comfort and certain standards – tomorrow that will change as the magic of the FA Cup puts Mansfield on a tightrope – battling with non-league Shaw Lane.
Shaw Lane are no easy opponent, within their ranks they have players who have played much higher and will want to continue their own dreams. They have the advantage too with the match being at their home, a pitch they are used to playing on and with the greatest will in the world meant here – one many of the Stags players will not be used too.
Adrenaline will take over for Shaw Lane’s players and my concern is that we won’t be able to match that spirit and fight – unless leaders can emerge and step up to the challenge.
Tomorrow we need to be firm at the back and tight as a unit, they’ll be physical and direct and if we for a second under estimate them or the challenge, our role in this particular production, will be of the laughing stock the ‘Giant’ who gets killed.
The Ducks have a rich and recent history, they’ve worked hard to get where they are and are a community hungry for success – where as we are a team who, let’s be fair here, are not performing to their full potential nor ability. It’s a script writers dream really – your classic David beats goliath.
Steve Evans has been in the position of the Shaw Lane management, I’m sure no Crawley fan will ever forget their FA Cup Run which accumulated in a 5th round trip to Old Trafford. We too as supporters have had plenty of cup dreams; the most recent of course sparked our most successful run in the last decade when we welcomed Liverpool in the third round back in 2013.
I remember the buzz around the town and club – it was wonderful to soak in. I was fortunate enough to commentate on that game and as such was there before the crowds came in, I’d never really felt noise like that before kick-off as the teams walked out – I couldn’t hear myself! It really gave a taste of being successful and even though it ended with THAT handball, it sparked a wave for the remainder of the season.
Newcastle away in 2006 when Alan Shearer equalled the record was another cup memory I’ll forever cherish, and like me – you’ll have your own. Shaw Lane will be thinking of those possibilities and that in itself will motivate the players – it’s all about chasing the dream.
I would love for more cup memories to be created, but with everything in football and in life – achievements are made sweet and rewarding by digging your heels in and doing the ugly work first, that’s exactly what we have to do tomorrow.
Remember when Luton came to the One Call Stadium for the FA Trophy Semi-Final back in 2011? There arrogance stunk and we took the wind from their sales with the right attitude and application from start to finish. The boot will be on the other foot tomorrow if we travel thinking the game is already won – if we want to create memories, then there is no place for that mentality.
Over confidence and under estimation will be out greatest downfall.
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