Mansfield Town midfielder Neal Bishop wants to see NottS County thrive - but not before derby day is out of the way

Mansfield Town's Neal Bishop crosses the ball : Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Skybet League 2  match Morecambe -V- Mansfield Town at Globe Arena, Morecambe, Lancashire, England on copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229
Mansfield Town's Neal Bishop crosses the ball : Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Skybet League 2 match Morecambe -V- Mansfield Town at Globe Arena, Morecambe, Lancashire, England on copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229

Former Notts County star Neal Bishop wants to see the Magpies survive and thrive once more – but those thoughts will go out the window until after Saturday’s big derby game at Mansfield Town.

Midfield ace Bishop is solely focused on helping his Stags side to three points that will pile on the agony for a Notts side under their third manager of a disastrous season.

But Bishop had great success in four years with the Magpies, playing through some bizarre times with the farce of the Munto Finance takeover, and remains fond of the club.

“It was the first game I looked out for on the fixtures,” he smiled.

“Obviously with my past there it was always going to be a special game and it’s one I’m really looking forward to.

“Their season hasn’t gone how they’d have wanted while ours is getting to where we want to be, so it’s an intriguing game.

“I am probably in the minority round here that I hope Notts do really well after Saturday.

“I am disappointed to see where they are and I really hope they can go on to get the 50-odd points they need to stay in the league and crack on again next season.

“But that is secondary to our ambitions. I am fully focused on what we are trying to do this season and three points on Saturday helps to get us closer to where we want to be.”

He continued: “I don’t want to offend anyone and as soon as that game was over on Tuesday night I was fully focused on beating this lot on Saturday. That’s just the way it is.

“But after the final whistle I wish them nothing but the best until we play them again.”

Bishop has fond recollections of his time at Notts.

He said: “I was there four years but it seemed like 40 with some of the stuff that went on. It seemed like seasons in a season!

“But I can only look back fondly. I played about every game there for four years and I have no bad memories. The supporters were brilliant with me.

“For four years before just about every home game they sang my name. I am thankful for the support they gave me.

“I live in the city and my son was born there so I only have good memories.

“We won promotion and then narrowly missed out on the League One play-offs. Goal difference did us one year which is a regret.”

Season 2009/10 sticks out as one to remember as Munto Finance took over in the summer, appointed ex-England boss Sven Goran-Eriksson as director of football and gave England star Sol Campbell a five-year deal.

There were then rumours of big name stars like David Beckham coming in until it was apparent Munto did not have the stated money and were fraudulent and they were gone by December. But Notts battled on to win the league.

“Every day you came in and there were more rumours – one day it was Roberto Carlos,” smiled Bishop.

“We were League Two and all these names were coming in and then you go downstairs and the milkman is kicking off because he’s not been paid. You were thinking something is not right here.

“I think Sol Campbell saw the iceberg coming – that’s why he only lasted one game. I think someone gave him a tip-off.

“After Christmas I think we had 16 players. It was a massive falsehood that we bought the league that season as we only had 16 players and we had about the same 11 for the last 18 games when Steve Cotterill came in and we were playing Saturday/Tuesday for about three months as we’d had a bad winter.

“So it was a massive effort and one that I will always remember.

“We had some right lunatics in that squad, but it was a great atmosphere.

“To go on and win the league was a massive achievement and one that should not be understated.”

But even that wasn’t his favourite season.

“My best season personally was probably our first one in League One,” said Bishop.

“I had a rip in my stomach – a hernia – for about three months. But Martin Allen being the manager, he would not let me have the operation as we were battling relegation.

“But I wanted to play. To be honest the pain in my stomach would have been nothing compared to getting relegated.

“The club was on its backside at one point with the black holes and money everywhere. Ray Trew came in and saved the club. He and wife are really good people.”

The Meadow Lane circus continues with a £3 million playing budget and already a third manager of the season in Neil Ardley.

“It’s really none of my business any more,” said Bishop.

“But I do have an interest in the club and it’s a difficult one. “It’s a massive budget at this level. But I am sure they will sort their problems out and I am sure they’ve got the right man in now.

“He did fantastic things at Wimbledon.”