Funk full of praise as AFC Mansfield close in on ‘dream’ promotion

Manager Rudy Funk, who has guided AFC Mansfield to the brink of the league title.
Manager Rudy Funk, who has guided AFC Mansfield to the brink of the league title.

Manager Rudy Funk has lavished praise on his players and the club’s board as AFC Mansfield stand on the brink of a ‘dream’ promotion.

The Bulls, formed only six years ago, sit ten points clear at the top of the Northern Counties East League’s Premier Division after a superb season in which they have suffered only two defeats.

The experienced Funk himself has taken much of the credit, but he is keen to deflect praise on to his team and chairman Andy Saunders.

“The season has been terrific so far, and everybody involved with the club has worked hard,” he said. “For a club that has been in existence for such a short time to be competing with long-established clubs is a massive achievement and long may it continue.

“Most pleasing for me has been the application of the players. Everything they have been asked to do, they have delivered. But the chairman and his board are probably the main reason we are in the position we are. They are top professionals and have done everything right.

“When I first came, the chairman had a picture of where he wanted the club to be -- as part of the National League System. Now, we are on the brink of that with promotion to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.

“It shows how much hard work and effort has been put in -- not just by the players, but also by the coaching staff, the board members and the volunteers. Everyone has done a fantastic job.”

AFC have suffered only one blip so far, courtesy of an inexplicable 5-1 defeat at home to mid-table Liversedge two games ago. But they bounced back to win 2-0 at Maltby Main seven days later and now have nine games left in which to clinch the league title.

“All the games will be nervy,” admitted Funk. “But if we are level-headed and professional, we came make everyone’s dream come true.”