Saturday 7th May 2011 is a day Stags fan all over the world will remember for a number of heart-warming, proud reasons, writes Craig Priest.
Whilst the memories will consist of an amber coloured flood seeping in and around the national stadium all enjoying the big day – the history books will always show a Darlington victory, meaning the heart-breaking pain will always return.
I’m hoping this year’s trip to Droylsden will be the start of something magical to wipe away the pain.
I’m always write about not looking back and dwelling on the past, I personally know how much of a stumbling block that can be in terms of progression, however this particular look back at bygone days is an exception to my rule.
As a supporter the day was truly magically, I remember seeing the convoy of coaches moving along the motorway and wondering how loud and buzzing each individual coach and passenger was.
I remember sensing the excitement and being a little overcome by it all at the service station just outside London, as I watched familiar face after familiar face pass by beaming from ear to ear,
I remember the sense of achievement that buzzed from all – a message seemed to be spreading to the doubters and negativity bodes that, anything is possible when you show some belief.
I look now to the present day, we have a new manager and virtually new squad donning the Stags shirt week in week out.
I accept that what we do now will be written in a totally different history book. However I see us a stronger than last year and can’t help feeling that Paul Cox’s current Stags set up could be the one to complete the jigsaw and provide the happy ending we all hoped for when we awoke on that beautiful, historic May Saturday.
Promotion back to the promised land will always be priority, please don’t think I’m writing this hoping for Trophy glory and not promotion glory – I stick by what I said at the start of the campaign, this will be our season – we are out of our ‘blip’ and are on track to be a successful league side.
What I am perhaps being is a tad greedy, hoping slightly to be the first team in a long while to do the ‘non-league double’ (promotion and Trophy) but more so, hoping that when we do go back to the league, we leave behind no unfinished business behind.
I’d love to see 15,000+ Stags fans flooding up and down Wembley Way again this year, singing loudly showing the same passion which is always the driving force of our success. I was privileged to walk up Wembley way telling our story live on radio, starting at the bottom of the slope with the Worksop game, ending the climb with the memorable semi-final battle with Luton and that infamous penalty. Around me was a fair following of Stags fans that followed me towards the nation stadium and Sir Bobby Moore’s Statue, what followed was hope, wild dreams and fiction.
I pictured myself in the press box at full time with tears flooding down my face as I said ‘Mansfield Town are FA Trophy Champions’ I describe the passionate screams of ‘Yellows’ ‘We love you Mansfield’ and ‘We are the champions’ as Murray held the trophy aloft, the truth is the final part of my dream never came true.
At full time after that devastating winner, I sat slumped in my seat with a microphone in one hand and my other hand trying to cover my face. I leant my head of the desk and couldn’t stop the tears of heartbreak flowing, around me floods of Stags fans including my family were the same, a chilling silence was the back drop as we collectively sobbed.
Unfortunately this will always be my final memory, I’m clinging onto a second dream now, that Paul Cox’s Mansfield Town can better the brave boys of 2010-11 and be crowned Champions, so the picture I painted – finally comes true!
We can do it; I hope to see you all at the Butchers Arms ground Saturday when it all starts again. COME ON YOU STAGS