Craig Priest’s Mansfield Town column: Win,lose of draw - the Stags fans should stay realistic


In 24/25 years on this planet (24 if you’re reading this Sunday, I am 25 after Monday) I have noticed that life has a strange way of making connections which you never thought existed.

However I can think of non-stranger than Derren Brown and Mansfield Town. Stick with me on this; I’ve not gone mental in my increasingly old age.

In the preceding week, Channel 4 has aired another mind-blowing of piece of TV as Derren Brown managed to subconsciously coerce three out of four unwitting members of General Joe Public to push someone off a roof.

The show itself was about social compliance, which is basically about the human brain being susceptible to following instruction and following a crowd depending on the situation it finds itself in.

This got me thinking about football, especially our Mansfield Town and how quickly the atmosphere and mood changes depending on the result.

Take the previous two Saturday’s as an example, last weekend at home to Stevenage, we win, seemingly sign a decent player and all is good in the world – the play-off hunt is back on.

This weekend, we’re one goal to the good at half-time with our “goal machine” on target, and then we completely capitulate in the second half and lose three-one – the play-off hunt is over, we’re not good enough and the cracks widen.

For as long as I remember it has been the same. Win, we are capable of world dominance, draw or lose and we are the worst side on the planet. Perhaps that’s emotion or passion coming to the forefront?

Expanding on that slightly, why is it when we win (a positive situation outcome) we focus on the strengths, good passing movements, creativity, pace and dominance where as, when we lose (a negative outcome), we always focus on “such and such did this wrong” or “it was such and suches fault” – even if we’ve lost 1-0, dominated the game but been thwarted by 27 world class saves from the opposition goalkeeper?

Human Nature, a positive which can carry some negatives but a negative is always a negative – perhaps that goes some way to explaining last week’s column surrounding social media.

Derren Brown’s show included a segment of following the crowd, three people (unbeknown to the others) were told to sit down or stand up depending on their current position every-time a bell rang.

One by one other people entered the room to fill out a form and started to mirror the behaviour of original three who eventually left – and yes, without the remaining people being told they had to stand or sit on the ringing of the bell, they all continued to follow the trend.

I’d describe myself as an introverted person, I hate being at the forefront, much preferring to stay in the shadows.

Therefore I would never, and have never, taken it upon myself to stand at a game or start singing or chanting – yet when those around me are seemingly doing the same, I’m up belting out a chorus of “Yellows” with the rest.

Thinking further back, that’s how I got into following the Stags in the first place! It began in a PE lesson on a rainy day where my teacher was off sick.

My class (the weedy-PE hating kids) were made to join the other class, containing most of the school bullies and 95% of the school football team.

Naturally rather than actually teach us anything, we just played a game of football. Whippetts Vs Bullies and being the weediest weedy kid, my place was in goal.

It was a close run encounter actually, the school’s top goal scorer had been made to run the line (mainly to prevent a cricket score and save him for a match the next day) and it was 0-0. With five minutes of the lesson left, wonder-kid (who bullied me a LOT) was given a run out and somehow, blagged a penalty in the hope of stealing the glory in front of the girl’s netball team who were now making their way in, passing us on the way.

After a few threats of being hung up in the changing room should I not let the ball in had been hurled my way, wonder kid began his run up to steal the glory. Until I had a sudden change of heart and threw myself AT the ball rather than out of the way, thus saving the penalty and becoming the hero.

I told the story when I got home, the next thing I knew every Saturday was no longer stay at home and play robot wars with an old bottle of fairy liquid celtoaped to a shoe box day, it was football day – Mansfield Town being the team of choice.

Kevin Pilkington was keeper at the time, I wanted to be him so much! Even to the extent of entering a team of mates into a five a side school competition and appointing myself captain.

Our first game happened to be against the school team of bullies – I had an awesome game, saved a penalty and managed to score from a goal kick (our sports hall was tiny, and the opposition keeper wasn’t paying attention – but hey IT COUNTS!). I won’t mention about setting the fire alarm off after slicing a clearance – well Kevin Pilkington was my inspiration.

Week by week I went back to football, sang when others sand, stood when others stood, basked in glory after a win and sulked (terribly) in sorrow after defeat. Now thanks to Derren Brown’s TV Show, I can’t help but wonder if I’m trapped through social compliance (Or maybe that’s because we lost at the weekend?).

One thing I do know for sure though is, if pushing a man of a roof is a metaphor for wanting a manager sacked after a loss, then Mr Murray rest assured, me and you are going nowhere near any rooftops in the near future.