Mansfield Town retro: Stags promoted on goal average draw with Stockport County, 20th May 1963


WE can all remember the nail-bitting end to a season where our team needs to claim a point or victory to gain promotion or stave off a gutting relegation.

And every fan can remember sitting in the stands listening to the radio or checking their mobile phones to calculate the ever-changing ‘as it stands’ situation and the progress of their rivals.

Few fans, however, will be able to remember needing the help of goal average to seal promotion - a scenario which Mansfield Town faced way back in May 1963.

Mansfield went into their final game of a memorable season away to Stockport needing at least a draw to seal promotion from Division Four. A defeat, coupled with a Gillingham victory over Oxford United, would mean Stags missing out on promotion.

Stags, who had won their first six games and occupied a promotion place for virtually all the season, were in faltering form having lost four of their previous eight matches.

But despite falling behind in the second half, Mansfield rose to their challenge well with the Chapmans proving to be the visiting heroes.

As the heavy rain continued to lash down Ricketts put County ahead after 54 minutes with a sloppy goal, meaning unless Mansfield found the back of the net within the next 36 minutes their promotion dream would be left in tatters.

The forward headed the ball over a number of Mansfield defenders and into the empty net as Treharne attempted to reposition himself after he appeared to have been fouled in the build up.

But a clever pass by Ken Wagstaff cut open the way for Sam Chapman, who made no mistake with his finish to level the contest.

Stockport, who needed a win to be certain of avoiding relegation, fought with a determinatiion as keen as Mansfield’s resulting in the game become largely a midfield stalemate on the increasingly boggy pitch.

From that point on Mansfield were not going to let their point slip. Cummings was a master pivot in a sound defence, while Albert Scanlon was a menance to the Stockport defence. Ivan Hollett, David Coates and Roy Chapman, who played for 80 minutes with a broken nose, all played their part.

The crucial point meant Mansfield went up by the narrowest of margins - just .118 of a goal on goal average, which was calculated by dividing goals conceded by goals scored. Mansfield were left with a goal average of 1.56, while Gillingham missed out with an average of 1.45.

The game still lives long in the heart of Ivan Hollett, who scored 40 goals during 98 games for Mansfield between 1958 and 1964.

The Pinxton-born striker said: “It was a massive game for us and the pressure was on. We had been at the top of the league that season but then the snow came down and we didn’t have a game for many weeks. All we could do was train on the pitch behind the car park at Field Mill

“During that time our manager left for Middlesborough and Tommy Cummings took over.

“He changed our style of play and from that point we slumped. He wanted us to play short neat passing games, but you couldn’t do it at that level.

“Eventually we found our feet and got back into the promotion places. When we fell 1-0 down we had to really dig deep, we knew all we needed was the point and we fought really hard and got that equaliser.”

Player-manager Tommy Cummings was full of praise for his entire team who finally saw the job through at Stockport.

“I think we deserved everything we got and probably a little bit more,”he said.

“They played really well. Everyone fought hard. We went out there to win. We knew we could not expect anything to be given to us. We knew at half-time that Gillingham had beaten Oxford, but that did not bother us.”

The six game winning streak at the start of the campaign remains Stags’s best start to a season.

Another landmark was set when Ken Wagstaff went on to hit 34 goals that season, while Roy Chapman helped himself to 30. The 1962/3 season was the last time any Football League club had two players each score 30 league goals in one season.

Goal average came back to haunt Mansfield two seasons later when they missed out on promotion from Division Three after losing out to Bristol City by .11 of a goal.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Treharne, Jones, Toon, Sam Chapman, Cummings, Morris, Hollett, Coates, Wagstaff, Roy Chapman, Scanlon.

MATCH: Stockport County 1 Mansfield Town 1

VENUE: Edgeley Park, Stockport 20th May 1963.