Grateful Mansfield Town supporters are backing Stags' own drumming hero Nathan Barnes for the new season

Mansfield Town's energetic drummer Nathan Barnes is surprised and grateful after fellow fans chipped in to give him full financial backing to keep the beat going for the forthcoming season.

Thursday, 16th June 2022, 2:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2022, 2:58 pm

The noise created by Barnes has been a growing factor in the atmosphere at games which players and manager Nigel Clough have all praised.

A GoFundMe initiative he knew little about has now bought the 21-year-old terrace dynamo a home season ticket, away tickets and travel, a customised Mansfield Town exterior and skin for the drum and should extend to home and away shirts and a customised flag for those with him.

“It is something I never expected,” said Barnes.

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Nathan Barnes leads the noise at a home game.

“I had been doing everything off my own back and it's nice now that the fans want to support me through the season.

“It feels like a massive responsibility on my behalf. It's not just me that gets the atmosphere going.

“The crowd need to be behind me as well. If they can't provide me with the atmosphere then I can't really give them the atmosphere I need to get going. It works on a mutual basis.

“We all work together. Last season the atmosphere was so different to the years before and the players noticed that. It is a big responsibility for me.”

Nathan in drumming action.

It was a random moment at a game that saw him pick up the drum for the first time.

“We have had a drummer before and I have been doing it for about four seasons now,” he said.

“The guy who was doing it had got a bit fed up and just left the drum to the side of me at one game – I think we'd just lost to Cheltenham – and it went from there really. He told me I could take it on – it was a bit of a random one really.

“I have had quite a lot of people coming up to me and asked me if I'd had drumming lessons but I couldn't play a drum properly if you put a kit in front of me. This is a bit different. It's just the football that has got me doing what I am doing.

Nathan provides the beat to the match action.

“I don't know where I get my energy from. I guess you get used to it. It is tiring and I have had a few games where I have dropped a few sticks. The adrenalin of the match helps.”

The idea to financially back Nathan came from another fan, namesake Nathan Marples, 34, of Langwith.

“It started at Scunthorpe away,” explained Marples.

“We had never met Nathan before, but my wife Paige and I said wouldn't it be nice if someone could do something for the drummer as he is the heartbeat of every game home and away?

Stags are on the attack and the sticks are raised.

“The day after we went to watch the ice hockey – Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers – and at the beginning of the first period I decided to put it out there on Facebook and see if anyone was interested. If not all well and good.

“But within about 20 minutes we'd had a good reaction and by the middle of the second period I am sat there launching a GoFundMe and getting some funny looks from people sat around me.

“We were expecting perhaps two or three hundred pounds to pay for a season ticket. We didn't expect the generosity we got. By the time we got home two hours later we were up to about £300 and knew it was taking off more than we thought.

“Then we started getting more ideas – away travel, which isn't cheap, away tickets.

“We met up with Nathan next home game and had a chat. He said he'd always thought about having the drum customised but never had.”

The idea then simply grew and grew.

Marples said: “On the final weekend of the appeal someone, they have asked to stay anonymous, asked us how much we needed to top it up to cover everything which I was taken aback by.

“We had set the target for a grand and I think we needed about £450 to meet our target which he offered to sort.

“We never thought it would get to where it got to – it ended up just over £1,500. It was a wild ride getting to that.

“Before the GoFundMe, no supporters' associations or anything wanted anything to do with him. Two weeks after he had SSA, Lashes Foundation, everyone on offering him sponsorship.

“I had a chat with a local company - Graphics Evolution Ltd - near me in Langwith that do wrapping of cars. I just asked could they wrap a drum and they said yes, though they had never done one before. It turned out perfect and looks brilliant and they even did a badge on the skin on top for free that wasn't planned.

“At the start of this week we got Nathan's season ticket sorted. We need to speak to someone at the club about trying to guarantee him an away ticket.

“It was my way of how us fans can give back to him and say thank you for what he has done.

“He is only 21 and so he is not well off. But he takes the drum to as many games as he can or is allowed to - some clubs don't allow it.”

The funding has now grown into a friendship too.

“Over the last three months we have got to know him quite well,” said Marples.

“He decided to stop in London to see the Forest match at Wembley but his hotel would not let him take the drum in so we offered to drive it back with us after the Stags game.

“We joke he has now gone from just a lad that drums to a local celebrity. Now everyone wants their photo with him and the drum. He has taken it on the chin and taken it in his stride.

“I think he is enjoying it a bit more as he is getting some appreciation for it and people recognise what he does.

“We were so impressed by the amount of work he did at Scunthorpe – he didn't just do it 15 minutes before and through the match, he did it 20 minutes afterwards as well. I have always wondered where he gets his energy from. He just doesn't stop. He is a really nice lad and does deserve everything that comes to him.

“Next, we'd like to get a home and away shirt with maybe 'Drummer 1' on the back and a custom flag that his mates can carry behind him when he is getting off the bus.

Barnes had long been a Stags regular before he suddenly became the club drummer.

“I started going when I was about six years old with my dad and sit in the Quarry Lane end,” he said.

“When I got a bit older, about 15, I started going with my mates into the singing block and I have been in Q Block ever since.”

While very welcome at the One Call Stadium, drumming at away grounds is rarely straightforward for him.

“It can be quite tough getting into the away games. Some of the away grounds are a nightmare,” he said.

“We have to go through procedures with phone calls and emails, and meetings with secretaries at the ground. About 50-60 per cent of the ground accepted it last season but it can be a tussle.

“Thankfully I have never had problems at home.”

Inevitably, despite the defeat by Port Vale, his highlight has been banging the drum at Wembley where he tried to keep spirits high after the game had all but gone for Mansfield before half-time.

“I am happy to take the drum to grounds that only have about 2,000 fans in there, so to go to the national stadium where we had over 30,000 fans it was a massive achievement of where I have taken it,” he said.

“I was just happy to drum at Wembley. It was a shame about the result, but it is what it is.

“I had to try to get behind the boys, they don't want the atmosphere to be flat. From about the 60th minute we had to get the atmosphere going.

“Now next season we just have to try to get it over the line.”