Bobby Hassell is looking forward to playing at his former club this weekend in a town he still looks upon as home.
The former Mansfield Town full back will be back this Sunday for the Kevin Bird Charity game (3pm) and he said: “I’m really looking forward to it.
“It will be good to see some old faces. It will be good to go out and have a game of football as well – and it’s all for a good cause.
“I came back for Rhys Day’s testimonial a few years back, but I’ve not played there apart from that.
“I have been back a few times to watch a few games and it’s good to see them doing well at the minute from where they were at the beginning of the season.”
Sadly, Hassell’s years at Stags, coming from the juniors to first team stalwart, ended on a low note that left a sour taste.
“My last game for the football club was obviously a defeat at the Millennium Stadium in the play-off final,” he said.
“It took me a good six months to get over that. It probably had a big effect on me when I started at Barnsley.
“I knew I was leaving going into that game. I think Keith Curle (the manager) really wanted a lot of that team out of the building, myself included.
“He wanted to create his own little legacy which obviously backfired on him.
“Myself, Liam Lawrence and Lee Williamson all wanted to leave on a high.
“We should have won that game comfortably on the day. It was just devastating to lose on penalties.
“But I actually got revenge there two years later in the same end as we won on penalties against Swansea to get promoted to the Championship.
“So I have good and some really bad memories of that stadium.”
Hassell added: “I would have loved to have left with victory. The football club is still very close to my heart.
“To come through the youth team there, I played 200 games for the club, I met my wife there at Mansfield and my first two kids were born in Mansfield before I left for Barnsley. It’s still home really. We go there regularly to see Sarah’s family, so it’s still home
“We’ve lived in Barnsley for seven years now but I lived in Mansfield for over 10 years.”
A rarity in the modern day, Hassell was a player who gave long service to two clubs and, awarded a testimonial at Barnsley, Mansfield Town provided the opposition at Oakwell.
“That was a good day,” he said. “Quite a few Mansfield fans came which I really appreciated. It was good also having Adam Murray as manager as an old team mate. Scoring a penalty against them was good as well.”
With ex-Stags legend Kevin Bird now suffering from dementia, a special charity game at the One Call Stadium this Sunday (3pm) will see Kevin Bird’s Mansfield Town Legends & Guests take on the Once Upon a Smile team of soap stars and other celebrity names in aid of Once Upon a Smile and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Tickets for the Phil Walker-organised game are priced adults £5, children and concessions £3 and a family ticket (two adults, two children) £12.