STAGS boss Paul Cox today drove into the One Call Stadium car park in the Aston Martin handed to him by chairman John Radford on Saturday still as shocked as when he was given the keys during Saturday’s 8-1 thrashing of Barrow.
It seemed the chairman had mentioned a new car for his manager during a relaxed chat last Wednesday.
But in no way was Cox prepared for the chairman to hand over the keys to his own Aston Martin, costing £125,000 new, at half-time after Cox’s side had already achieved the scoreline Radford had wanted.
The car was parked behind the stand bearing a new registration plate of MT51 COX and Radford phoned club press officer Mark Stevenson once the score reached 4-1 to say he would give Cox the keys at half-time if they could match the 5-1 of the registration plate.
Seconds later Adam Murray lashed in the fifth and the car was Cox’s.
“It is still all a bit surreal,” said Cox today. “We were having a laugh and a joke last Wednesday and he said something about the car which I thought was tongue in cheek after a couple of beers.
“The first I knew about it was at half-time when I had come out of the dressing room. He threw me the keys and said your car is in the car park.
“I was dumbstruck. I kept thinking it was a prank and Jeremy Beadle was going to pop out. This is just testament to the guy. He has always been honest with me, including a few rollockings, but he has never let me down and I enjoy working for him.
“I would have been just as happy to get an Escort as an Aston Martin as it’s someone giving you something you are not entitled to.”
Beneath all the publicity the gesture has generated, it is clear the chairman values his manager highly and wants to make him feel wanted by the club as he tries to steer them to promotion.
Radford told Mansfield 103.2: “I was thrilled by the score. Now I’d like to see if my scoreboard can actually produce a 10 so that’s my next target for Paul.
“I promised Paul a new car and the registration said 51 so I was quote pleased he delivered a 5-1 score by half-time.
“Paul needed a better car than the one he was driving and he liked it. It stops him going to any other club, hopefully.
“Paul was over the moon, but he failed me a bit with the 8-1 when I said I wanted a 5-1.”
He added: “I am delighted with the way things are coming together and the team spirit. It’s all about keeping the continuity.
“At the beginning of the season there were a few niggles. But you have to keep with it and stick with it, which we have done, and now, hopefully, we will start to eke out the results and move up the table.”