It’s funny how little things can remind you of big events, take for instance this morning and an unusually wake up call. As the majority of you know around my room I have plenty of photos from down there years along with memorabilia – currently my bed is in front of my Wembley wall and this morning a gust of wind blew my Wembley press pass from its peg. Hitting me sock in the face and waking me up, it was then I release that a year ago today – I achieved a dream commentating at Wembley Stadium as my beloved team searched for glory.
The exact anniversary date wise is Monday when we play host to York City in the play-off semi-final second leg at Field Mill, ironically battling it out for a place at the national stadium and a shot at promotion glory. Still the point stands, the first Saturday of the month of May was the one we all headed for Wembley for the FA Trophy final, I had to laugh at how quickly time had flown and how much things had changed.
I’m going to be honest now, there was a reason it took a couple of days to upload the match report from Wednesday, the whole occasion had drained me – I’d spent the night with four good friends, battled against the odds to bring coverage and bellowed over the crowd to do the job I love, bringing the action back home to those who couldn’t make it for whatever reason – all of us wanting one thing, our beloved side to stay strong.
They did and they too had curveballs to deal with, the injury to Martin Riley early on, the non dismissal of two York players for wreck-less fouls and the dismissal of our own Matt Green for suspected handball to name a few. Exodus Geohaghon had a wobble, doing so well to penetrate and punish York with long throws, but being the unfortunate one to turn the ball into his own net and level things out before the break – in the second half he recovered and helped the Stags through. Adam Murray, our passionate skipper who’s battled with injury of late showed no pain and put in a proper skippers performance – outstanding as ever in the middle of the park. Everybody pulled together as one, it wasn’t great at times and the hosts we’re certainly guilty of wasting golden chances – but as Scott said in the build up (which you can here along with full audio below), these games aren’t about the side that plays the better football, it’s about the team that plays the occasion better, the team that wants it, the team with passion – that was Mansfield Town and that IS Mansfield Town, and that folks is the mark at how far we’ve come in just one year.
Last season we began with David Holdsworth again chopping and changing, the word ‘consistency’ isn’t included in his vocabulary. Yes we made chances at the start of this season but that’s a NEW managers purgative, we HAD to change this summer because of how broken we we’re, in my opinion Holdsworth had no real reason to make as many changes as he did, to go and ring the changes 15 games later once again is ridiculous. I know I wrote about how a Wembley win could reinvent us last year that was written half heartedly, we all knew deep down it would only paint over the ever widening cracks. Defeat on the big stage hurt, I’ll never forget as the goal went in my head hitting the desk and tears pouring down my face, god knows how I finished commentating! After the game my frustration was taken out on my microphone and every Saturday afternoon when I unpack the kit for another commentary, I’m reminded of the day as the microphone lives on!
This season has been a remarkable transformation, we’ve had our problems on and off the pitch, the mid season run of draws nearly proved our downfall when we slipped away, however hard word, key additions, commitment and passion have driven us on. I can’t pick a moment of the season which I can say was the key, there a far too many – nor can I pinpoint the reason why all of a sudden its gone from supporters and players being separate groups to one core, driving our dream forward. I’m not surprised that Monday’s crunch game is a sell out, I know there will be faces that haven’t been for a while for whatever reason and that doesn’t bother me, because subconsciously they have a ticket to support Mansfield Town FC and be part of our dream, so long as the positivity is high, so long as the noise blows the roof off with Mansfield Town songs.
I’ve never been so proud to support Mansfield Town FC; I’ve watched them promoted once, lose on a big stage twice and be relegated twice and so much more in-between. What I’ve not seen before is this energy, this love, passion and belief coming not only from the terraces but from the dressing room too. I’m privileged to travel up and down the country to follow my personal dream whilst watched the team that have helped me change from a troublesome, angry teen to the person you all know – without my team I wouldn’t be who I am, have met the friends I spoke of or have found my dream job. I’m even more privileged to have watched the club that was broken and depressing low this time last year after Chris Senior’s winner for Darlington, blossom into the beautiful summer flower that we know today. Every other Saturday since the turn of the year, coming to Field Mill has been wonderful, not once have I left angry or annoyed because for the first time in a long while, the support from start to finish has been phenomenal even when we’ve been at our worst on the pitch – results at home have made us a force, someone to fear – as I’ll write more tomorrow in my match preview, this will prove one hell of an advantage.
Away from home the support has to be outstanding, only once since the turn of the year has our travelling support dipped below a hundred – we make noise we’re ever we go and probably abuse the phrase ‘make yourself at home’ – in a good way! I’d have liked a win on Wednesday without doubt, just to steady the nerves but on reflection the night gave us so much more. We we’re strong, mentally and physically on the pitch, mentally and vocally on the terraces. We believed in ourselves when we needed to the most rather than crumble back into that negative swap we’ve been stuck in for years. Things went against us but did we let them drag us down and give in, no we did not.
Now we need to do this one more time – on our own pitch, 90 more minutes (minimum) to go and follow out dream, to go and follow our destiny, to keep our hopes of a shot of promotion intact. 90 minutes on the road have passed; we have waded through York’s fortress and come out as we started – LEVEL. Now ladies and gentleman, it’s time to BELIEVE.
Thanks for reading, check out the match preview tomorrow plus details of coverage! LET’S DO THIS!
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