Craig Priest writes….
I swear down that during close season, every second which ticks by seems like an hour – that hunger for football grumbles in my stomach ever so painfully, I know it’s the same for you too.
Some are ok, they enjoy the break and that one glorious day when the weather is nice, they have other sports to enjoy and find another passion to kill the hunger for football, not me I can’t wait for pre-season to start again.
Writing with my supporter’s hat on today, there’s one thing that really kills me during close reason – Rumours. It’s a part of football I’d love to ban from the game as they really get my goat, there’s nothing worse than logging onto forums etc and reading about your clubs players signing for such and such.
This close season it’s Matt Green who takes the most of the rumour headlines, currently on holiday with his partner (fact) the 26 year old hit man has been linked with every club going with his Stags future hanging in the balance. It’s a fact that he has been on trial with Birmingham City but no deal has seemingly been put on the table for the conference top scorer, so why do people keep saying he’s gone!
I was on the bus coming home from town the other day and had the displeasure of overhearing two blokes talking about our treasured marksman, apparently one of them had heard from his next door neighbours brothers sister-in-law’s workmate, that he’d signed for Forest – the other guy then chirped in that he’d gone to Leeds, something he’d heard through his aunty who was best friends with a Leeds stewards husband – IT’S RIDICULOUS HOW DO THESE RUMOURS EVEN START AAAAHHHHH!!!
On a serious, less rant-like note, the future of Green may hang in the balance but going on things said by the player and the club, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in the number 10 shirt at Stags next term, the conference player of the season has clearly fallen in love with the club and formed a strong bond with manager Paul Cox.
Football can sometimes be a greedy game, players searching for money and that extra £1 for their agent rather than loyalty – I don’t think Green’s that type of player, if he was then he’d have gone when his initial loan from Oxford was up right, after all he was in form, scoring goals for fun and linked with every club around then too!
Green signed following his loan, in my opinion at least, because of the belief and affect Paul Cox had on him, transferring him from a right winger and striker that couldn’t hit a barn door with a machine gun into a through the middle goal machine. Looking at Green’s career stats before his arrival, numerous moves into and out of Oxford do not suggest a settled career and in those moves out of Oxford he wasn’t much of a threat, unlike now where he’s scoring for fun and with a clear mind – 57 goals in two seasons has perhaps put him right up there with the greatest strikers in the clubs history.
Knowing my luck, whilst writing this Green will have made the move (don’t worry he hasn’t I’ve just checked at 11.52am on Tuesday 21st May) – One man who has made a move however is Luke Jones, the popular defender has joined league one Stevenage, a move with is extremely saddening.
When Jones first arrived at Field Mill back in 2009 under the management of David Holdsworth, little was known of the former Blackburn youth teamer however by the time he was outrageously released by Holdsworth at the end of the campaign, everyone knew the name and cursed the then Stags boss for letting such a gem depart.
The former Kidderminster man had played 23 times for Holdsworth’s Stags who finished mid-table, chipping in with four goals Jones was a popular regular face who was always the pick of the back four with his courageous displays both in the air and on the floor.
Stags fans watched through gritted teeth as Holdsworth’s misjudgement saw Jones sign for Forest Green Rovers, his displays impressed those at the New Lawn and saw him captain the side during his 45 appearances for the Nailsworth based side. A move in the summer back to Kidderminster ended a season’s stay with Forest Green and as expected, Jones performed constantly as one of the best defenders in the conference during his second stint of 39 games for Steve Burr’s men.
Every close season Jones’ name was one Stags fans wanted to see along with the words “has signed” on the clubs website and in the close season, Paul Cox managed to secure the services of Jones on a one year deal – a move that delighted the faithful. His displays this term have been excellent and despite a spell in the ill-fated Quarry Club, he returned to the side at Stockport for the injured Exodus Geohaghon and never looked back – his solid displays alongside John Dempster were as, if not more important, than Matt Green’s final burst of goals in winning us the title.
Not for a second do I fault Jones for moving on, this time round it’s his choice rather than the managers – Paul Cox will have done all in his power to tempt Jones into another year, however the lure of League One football for the first time in his career at the peak age of 26 is too good to turn down, Stevenage are a good stable club with a good coaching staff, give it a couple of seasons and Jones, if he continues to progress in the way he has, will be playing in a top 10 Championship side.
Whilst I, along with every Stags fan out there, wish Jones all the best his departure does leave a gap to fill. George Pilkington is in contract but his absence last term suggests to me that he’ll be used as back up rather than a regular, as I mentioned at the top of the piece speculation and rumours get my goat so I won’t even begin talking about Luke Jones replacement. There seems to be some confusion about John Dempster, the former Crawley man was key to our success and like Jones, it was a joy to see him return last summer – the last I read was that Dempster had been offered a new contract along with numerous other key faces, I’m yet to read that any of them have signed. Hopefully the option of a new contract to said players will have been taken and speculation can stop – come on Coxy, some confirmation would be great.
One released from the club is Exodus Geohaghon, am I surprised? Not really. If I’m honest I wasn’t too thrilled when he returned from Kidderminster after failed negotiations last summer, yes he’s a crowd pleaser with that long throw but I believe if you look at videos and read old reports, he’ll come across as a player that has good days and bad days. The tip of the iceberg for me was watching him in the reserves when Jones had pushed him out of the side, he looked disinterested and showed little effort to fight for his shirt – the long throw and his ability to frighten opponents was great to watch but if you look at his strengths, I’m in the opinion that there are other players better than him that are more adaptable. As ever I’ll wish him well for the future and say thanks for the memories.
It’s been quiet in the arrivals front so far with only the one addition, midfielder Jamie McGuire from Fleetwood will provide all the qualities on Messer’s Hand, Tolley and Roberts taking the one wage rather than three, a good piece of business that could, given time, be a replacement for Murray – but as the Stags legend pointed out on his Facebook the other day, he’s 31 not 40 – there’s life in those legs yet!
Another thing that’s getting too me at the moment is the Malta friendly, seeing people booking their flights is hurting as I can’t go! Simply other things have to take priority, such as sorting out next season so to those who are going, enjoy the experience and get in touch; I’d love to get a Malta Diary posted on here!
In terms of next season’s coverage, I have no fresh news as yet – it’s been a fabulous journey with Mansfield Matters but the promotion to League Two for Stags means there are certain factors which could prove difficult to overcome – fear not I’ll try my hardest to bring coverage to Mansfield Matters and Takeover next term but any donations, would be most welcome! I’ll bring more news when I have it.
That’s it for now; I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings, not that they’ve really quenched my thirst for footballing action! I also hope you like the new site design, myself and Em are working hard to take this website up another level as we’re exceeding expectations on hits etc – when I say we are working hard, I mean she’s doing most of it whilst I make the tea!
See you soon!
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