Grey skies, chilly rain showers and a floor filled with brown Autumn leaves is the scene that greats me looking out of the window this morning. It reminds me of roughly the same time last year when we travelled to Slough Town in the FA Cup first round replay and stumbled through via a tense penalty shootout.
I’m then reminded of a week or so later when we headed to Matlock for an FA Trophy first round replay and were well beaten by a part-time side. Both nights after the game I sat freezing amidst a sea of wires after commentating on the match, freezing cold and annoyed.
I looked at the body language of the players and the demeanour of Paul Cox and thought we’d be stuck as a mediocre conference side forever.
Somehow the season changed its course and accumulated in promotion which we’ll never forget, it was undoubtedly a team effort to get over the finish line.
However every time I’m greeted with scenes like this morning, I do wonder who or what sparked the change.
As I say, it was a team effort in the end however, during times like the ones I mentioned there was one man who watched on and thought something had to change – Adam Murray. Sadly now it looks very unlikely that he’ll ever don a Stags top again following a rift with boss Paul Cox.
Murray clearly has a heart for the club and, according to the statements made, asked to go out and get some game time after he was dropped from the starting line-up following the season’s first two games.
That in itself is fair enough and you can’t really argue against the sterling job Jamie McGuire has done since his introduction yet, reading between the lines (and I might be wrong), the situation goes deeper.
The former Derby County man would turn up at stupid o’clock during the bad weather last season with his shovel to help clear the pitch and get a game on, then he’d put on his boots and crunch into a challenge on the freezing rock pitch to help us fight for every point – why? Because that’s who he is, would any of the players at the club now do the same?
The charismatic midfielder also played a key part behind the scenes in restructuring the youth set up following its re-launch.
Murray spent hours outlaying plans to bring through quality young footballers and provide them with a first class education on and off the field, alas now his duties of spearheading the next generation seem to have gone to John Ramshaw, who also, is becoming more of a presence is the dugout on a senior match day.
I’ll never take sides or comment further upon speculation. However I find it bitterly sad that the relationship between Cox and Murray has broken down to a point of no repair. Murray won Cox over on his arrival to keep the captain’s armband and became an integral part of the management team that finished in the play-offs.
His hard-work and application to every task made him the perfect candidate to take over from Micky Moore when he left the assistants role which, as we know, led to promotion as champions.
Yet now, as we settle into league two life, his assistant manager and captain title is nothing more than words on a page – for a club that has the ambition and intention of moving forward into a higher division this can’t be described as a good thing.
Whether you like his playing style or not, I believe you’d find it hard to argue against having his passion and love for Mansfield Town around during these tough months, honestly without it in the previous seasons, would we have finished we’re we did?
The longer the rift goes on, the wider the cut becomes – I hope that somehow a situation can be resolved and we can welcome back Murray rather than have to say farewell.
Mansfield Town wouldn’t be the same without seeing Murray literally dig us out of trouble before limping into the club shop and popping up to make you laugh whilst having your photo taken for your season ticket (yeah, don’t ask!).
The weather still has to brighten out there, two weeks ago we we’re in good form and looking good to climb.
We face two tough trips is quick succession this week as we head for Torquay and currently manager-less Bury, fingers crossed we can get six points on the board and prevent a stumble from becoming a fall.
The weather can be as drab, dull and uninspiring as it likes, that doesn’t mean we have to be does it? We’ll see.