CRAIG PRIEST STAGS BLOG: Farewell to Marriott

NMAC12-1280-1''STags Fan Craig Priest
NMAC12-1280-1''STags Fan Craig Priest

This week saw the sorry news that longest serving player Alan Marriott has failed to agree a new deal with Mansfield Town and will subsequently not be seen in the Amber and Blue, or in his case Red, Grey, Green and classic Pink, again.

The much loved gloves-man follows favourites such as Louis Briscoe and Lee Stevenson to name but a few out of the One Call Stadium exit leaving supporters pondering and questioning the nature of Paul Cox’s management once more.

Marriott has been a fantastic servant to the club and I am sad to see him move on, however this morning I can’t help but wonder if Paul Cox is attempting to edge away from some of his predictable choices of the past in order to start a new chapter in the soap opera that is Mansfield Town.

We all have our predictable routines, whether they be subconscious or on purpose. Every day I catch the same two buses at the same time of day to get to work, I get off at the same point and walk the same route to sit at the same desk and do the same job - it’s a way of life.

There are times I notice these similarities and attempt to make a change, so I’ll catch a different bus which takes a different route - sometimes I’ll even get off at a different stop and walk a different route, thrilling I know! I do this to make each day different and, whilst ultimately I end up in the same place, the way I got there has changed.

Thinking about that for a moment, I wonder if Paul Cox after three years at the helm has decided it’s time to get off at a different bus stop.

His three pre-seasons so far have been the same, crammed with so many games he becomes confused and unable to pick a settled squad to start the campaign.

I’ll look at this in more detail in another article but the common denominator is this - too many games has equalled a split squad which as a result has equalled two many players and has taken time to evolve into something special - namely January and the play-off push, title race and last term, survival.

This term the budget is restricted which means changes have to happen, players such as Marriott no longer become a piece of the furniture, they become an old sofa that must be replaced for half the price. It’s harsh, but soberingly true.

Whilst it’s not nice to see an old favourite go, it does add an era of mystery and excitement to the equation. “Who will arrive and how will the new team fare?

Our ultimate destination is football at a higher level. We will reach it one day but for now, the same sights, sounds and characteristics have been put aside for something untested and untried.

Hopefully being unpredictable will be a risk worth taking - the only shame is we’ll never get to say a proper thank you or farewell.

All the best to those departing and thanks for the memories.