Dempster looking beyond his Stags career

Stags v Wrexham.'Cox and Green.
Stags v Wrexham.'Cox and Green.

For most of Mansfield Town’s Championship-winning side it will be nothing but sun and relaxation until the gruelling return to pre-season, writes Callum Croson.

But for John Dempster, he will be putting the finishing touches to his journalism degree and will line-up with his fellow class mates this summer when he graduates from Staffordshire University.

The PFA course is one of a range of qualifications current and ex-professionals can partake in during their playing days, and Dempster has fully enjoyed his two years.

“Yeah, big time, it’s been an enjoyable two years,” he said. “Quite testing because of getting back into the swing of things and doing the academic stuff, which took a bit of getting use to, but it’s been enjoyable.

“Now the course is finally coming to an end it will be quite an achievement and hopefully I’ll get a good mark.

“It’s rewarding when you get different modules back and you’ve got a decent mark for them, a lot of the stuff we’ve done at the university in the radio studios, using different software, obviously I’ve never done anything like that before. The new stuff I’ve experienced has been really enjoyable.”

One of the requirements of the course is to do work placements, so where better for the Stags defender to do his, than in the Mansfield media department?

He added: “One of the good things is, after training, I can go straight upstairs to the office and work alongside the media guys there, and help put the programme together, set-up for the press conference and just generally shadow him for the day and find out what it’s like to be head of media at a football club.”

The former Kettering player admitted he did find it a bit strange being on the other side of the camera.

“As a player you get used to being interviewed and stuff like that,” he explained. “But it was unusual being on the other side of the camera and seeing how journalists ask different questions to get information off players, so I’ve enjoyed that experience as well.

“It’s vitally important to do work placements because, although doing the broadcast work in the studios is good experience, you can’t really allow for working live or when you have to think on the spot or even on the writing side of things.

“You practice writing articles, but when you’re actually writing for a paper that is looking to publish what you’ve been writing, you know you’re under a bit more pressure, for instance working to deadlines and things like that.”

The work with the media team was made extra sweet with the success of the team winning the league and getting Mansfield back into the Football League.

After a short break to Tenerife, courtesy of chairman John Radford, Dempster knew it was a great reward for all of the hard work himself and the players had put in this season.

“I was delighted,” he said. “It was a massive achievement for the club, and individually I was over the moon.

“Over the season we’ve had lots of ups and downs, but we went on a really good run after Christmas and it put us in a good position and we managed to get over the line in the end and lift the trophy, which was a special moment.”

It was the run from the end of February to April that Stags fans will remember most, including a 12-game winning streak that pushed the title race to the final game of the season.

Asked if he would rather have won it with a few games to spare, the 30-year-old agrees it would have been easier on the nerves, but will live longer in the memory this way.

He said: “I think, once you’ve won it on the last day of the season, at home as well, it made it extra special really because of the added pressure.

“But if you’d have asked us with three or four games to go whether we wanted it over and done with, I think that every single player at the football club would have said that they’d prefer to have it done by then because, the longer the wait goes on, the more the pressure mounts, but that’s what made it extra special in the end.”

So with a big season ahead of them, it will be the Stags’ first appearance in the Football League since their relegation in 2008 and Dempster believes they have all the attributes to be successful again back in League Two.

He concluded: “I can’t wait to get going really, obviously I’m going to have a short break, and then we’ll be back for pre-season.

“I think we’ve got a good mix in the side. We’ve got players that have already played in the Football lLague which is always important to have that experience and, with a few additions, we’ll be alright.

“We can definitely be pushing top half, you don’t want to get too carried away in your first season because you only have to look at some of the big clubs that have been relegated this season.

“If we can finish in the top half or maybe finish a little bit closer to the play-offs that would be a successful season.”