Craig Priest reveals more of his favourite moments from the 2011-12 season on the road with the Mansfield Matters Team....
Two weeks today I’ll be back in a press box, head set on, loads of random notes on my lap and an electrical current of wires running beneath my feet – brining you all the action as football returns at last!
These final two Saturday’s however will be tough and I can’t help but get nostalgic over what has been my first full (complete) season in radio, spent with great friends watching the team we love doing the job we all enjoy – there is no greater feeling, especially as the memories and stories we’ve collected along the way will last a life time no matter what happens in the future.
With pre-season around the corner, in the coming weeks this website will go back to previews, opinions, reports etc so today is pretty much my last chance to share some of those (repeatable) stories with you, so sit back and enjoy some more fables from the Mansfield Matters Commentary Team....
Take That CD hell
Those of you who follow me on twitter etc will be aware that my musical taste is not the greatest, in fact quite a few of you would probably have me shot for what’s on my MP3 player – those of you that have heard the music on the shows during the latter end of the season pretty much have Briggsy to thank for choosing something more modern, I can’t repeat what he said the morning I told him we’d start playing music on the show!
Anyway, I hold my hands up and say that now and then I do listen to ‘Take That’ however after a trip to Forest Green Rovers back in October, I don’t think I’ll ever listen to the sounds of Barlow and the boys again!
It was already a weird, stressful day with James having gotten us lost and went on an attempted pheasant killing spree ....oooh don’t forget the boiling hot weather! What you need after that is the PA system to play some relaxing music, they did at first at 12noon way before the punters came through the turnstile, putting on ‘Take That’s’ album ‘The Circus’ which does actually have some relaxing songs for an occasional listen, however after the final track had finished the CD didn’t change to your usual standard football music, it went back to the start and the volume turned up a notch – this particular CD is half an hour long and the same pattern continued right until kick off, so by the time 3pm arrived I’d heard the same CD on a loop getting louder and louder nearly six times – in that heat, after James had nearly murder the entire life stock of the region and gotten us lost AGAIN – Take That on a loop was enough to send even the most calm person insane.
Because of that day I know the track list off by heart and have never listened to my copy of the CD again... All I can say to Forest Green is that particular day wasn’t the Greatest Day of my life, anytime I hear the name Julie said over and over by Mark Sodding Owen I turn into a killing monster that would Not be relaxing by spending time in The Garden. I was so crazy that day I most probably would have joined The Circus....
Ok that’s enough song CD gags now – oh How did it come to this...! Moving on....
The Rushden/Kettering Seat Steal and wacky races
Going to an away ground you have to be polite and respect the host clubs wishes, nine times out of ten you can pretty much sit where you want in a press box unless you’ve been allocated a set slot to comply with what you need, EG Power, ISDN, Phone. Sometimes though most clubs are flexible and, so long as you’re not breaking health and safety rules, pretty much let you get on with things.
My pet hate is “indoor” press boxes, which is a booth at the back of the stand with Perspex plastic windows, designed to keep the press warm and safe from flying footballs which is fair enough. It’s very rare nowadays to see these as, like at the One Call Stadium clubs have transformed a row of seats into a press area – in fact last season only three clubs had a “indoor” press area, Barrow, Bath and Kettering, who played at Rushden & Diamonds Nene Park.
When I arrive at grounds with an “indoor” press box the first thing I do is look for a seat and power point out in the open stand because, in my opinion, if you’re in a enclosed area commentators and journalists have to talk over each other and with no crowd noise, which makes for an awful show. The trip to Kettering, well Rushden! In April was Briggys’ first away game and he naturally wanted to be enclosed away from the home supporters who he was convinced would ‘stare him out if he said anything bad’ – after explaining about the difference in audio qualities and plying him with Jaffa Cakes, we set up outside and we’re having a generally nice time until a member of the Kettering press came and informed me I was sat in someone’s seat who wouldn’t be very happy! Me being the kind person I am apologized in a Simon like way off the inbetweeners, and said I’d move after my next link. Ten minutes later the Kettering guy had clearly chosen to wind me up with Briggsy by pretending the guy whose seat I’d taken was a beast and one of the most feared ex-players around the local area, I even went to the extent of goggling him to do my research – fact! When the guy in question arrived and saw us set up in his seated area, he marched over and threw his bag on the floor and went on a Boris Becker style rant before taking the piece offering Jaffa Cake Briggsy offered and bursting out laughing with the other guy who’d set out this ‘he’ll kill you’ type story – it turns out it was his seat but he didn’t care as the pair pull the same routine on visiting journalists at every opportunity they get! ... I thought the stupid pranks would stop when Jeremy Beadle died!
It turns out he was a really nice guy and was really easy to chat to despite the full time score seeing his team relegated.
So far on that day, I’d be robbed of Jaffa Cakes by James and Briggsy, fooled in to believing I had a contract out on my life, accused of drawing a deformed Stag on my note book by James and had seen my boy’s romp to a 3-0 victory – what else could complete my day? Oh yeah, driving back with Briggsy we passed James on the motorway and decided to give him a “friendly” pip and wave – James somehow took our acknowledging hello as a sign for a race, one Briggsy wouldn’t back down too! For about half a mile on a clear motorway you had James in one lane and us in the other trying to get ahead of the other, Naturally James won toying with us after it took Briggsy some three miles to actually get level with James, before the latter just put his foot down and flew off into the night – I’m seriously not safe in a car no matter whose driving! It was like a scene from Wacky Races, thing is I can’t work out whose Dick Dastardly, whose Mutely and whose Penelope Pit stop!
Wrexham shopping spree
Well that’s nearly it for this mini-series of stories, however there is one more to tell and it stems from a question I was asked the other day ‘What are you looking forward to the most about football returning?’ – Obviously I can’t wait to get the headset on and ramble on for 90minutes and do all the work that comes with it, however I think I’m most looking forward to the half time refreshments which has become a regular feature on our travels ever since one night in Wales.
Ahead of the trip to Wrexham in September I decided to take a flask of hot chocolate due to being short on money and therefore unable to buy a half time drink. After picking everyone up, myself and Scott decided to pop into Pound land on the retail park for some supply’s for the trip, we walked round literally like kids in a sweetshop, filling the basket with everything we could – we must have spent about £15 between us! We had cake, muffins, jaffa cakes, rocky bars, vimto sweets, fizzy laces – you name it we had it! Arriving at the ground we entered with two bags of radio kit and two full of snacks (Which we had to pretend was radio kit)! Obviously our spend was excessive and we toned down for other trips but it’s safe to say now that a double packet of Jaffa Cakes, a packet of Rocky’s or KitKats and a huge flask of boiling hot water follows us around in a bag full of hot chocolate mix and plastic cups which other members of the Stags press have decided to use as their own refreshment bar! Infact Mark Stevenson the clubs press officer no longer asks how we are upon arrival at various grounds, he just asks if we’ve brought the hot chocolate and Rockys – I wouldn’t mind if I got any for myself but by the time James, Briggsy, Scott and Mark have raided the stash, all that’s left is the wrappers!
Next season I’ll have to introduce a payment system eh! .... and yes guys if you are reading this wondering if the half time refreshment bar will return, I think you can take it is a given – it wouldn’t be Mansfield Matters without that would it!?!
And so that’s it I’m afraid, thanks for reading our little stories, I hope that next season provides many more and that my final memory will be dancing in celebration with my friends and colleagues rather than cowering under a table in tears! That’s another story for another day as we begin to preview pre-season over the coming weeks!
I hope you’ve again picked up some vital information from today’s fables, if ever you hear a CD you like at a football ground spare a thought for those broadcasters etc that have hard it at least four times already.... If you are going to set up at an away ground, always check you’re not stealing someone’s seat, never get involved in a drag race between James & Briggs and finally, if you do want something from Craig’s bag of half time goodies – please form an orderly cue!
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