Mansfield Town youth team product Liam Marsden left the club this week on good terms and predicts glory is just round the corner for Adam Murray’s men.
Defender Marsden, 21, was one of three players not offered new contracts this week alongside Craig Westcarr and Anthony Dwyer.
“I was disappointed but I kind of knew it was coming,” said right back Marsden, who also possesses a superb long throw.
“As I was not getting my chance, it would have been a bit pointless keeping me if I wasn’t going to get the game time.
“Obviously I still gave everything I could in training, but as the season went on I thought my time was coming to an end with Mansfield.
“The gaffer and Coops (coach Richard Cooper) have done a lot for me. I have been at the club five years.
“I won youth team player of the year when I was coming through so I knew they thought a lot of me. But they have now decided the time has come where it is better for me to depart.
“I have had a good five years at the club but, now it’s come to an end, I am on the chase for another club.
“I want to get back to pre-season flying and have a good season next season.”
The writing was the wall for the Creswell-born youngster when, after right back and skipper Nicky Hunt left for Leyton Orient in January, boss Murray brought in Swansea City loanee Dan Alfei instead of turning to local lad Marsden, who had patiently awaited another chance after loan spells at AFC Guiseley and Brackley.
“Hunty was always a good right back,” said Marsden.
“ When he left I thought I might get my chance, but the gaffer wanted a bit more experience in there and Dan had already played League Two at Northampton.
“I don’t really blame him as such as they were going for the play-offs.
He added: “I have had a great time here, coming through the youth team and going up from the Conference to the League where we deserve to be. It’s been a good five years with a lot of positives.
“I think the club has developed massively as a whole since the new gaffer’s took over. I think it will just keep progressing and it will be a good season next season for Mansfield.” The lack of a reserve side has not been helpful to young players like Marsden, though that will change this year with the introduction of an U21s side in the reserve league in which to help young players make a transition to men’s football and fringe players stay match sharp.
“It would have been good,” admitted Marsden. “I would have benefited from the game time and game fitness as well as a lot of other people, but it’s not really an excuse.
“The chairman and the gaffer like a small squad so, with a reserve team, we couldn’t really risk getting the injuries.
“That was the club’s decision and with the U21s next year I think that will help them massively.”
The then Stags manager Paul Cox gave Marsden his debut in a 3-1 home defeat by Torquay United in April 2014 and he marked the occasion by winning man of the match.
“I remember getting the call on Friday, saying I was making my debut,” he said.
“There were a lot of nerves and I was rushing around. I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night.
“We played a 3-5-2 system and I was played as a wing back which was the first time I had ever played wing back.
“So I was very nervous making my debut in a position I wasn’t aware of.
“The gaffer at the time spoke a lot about Rheady (giant striker Matt Rhead), working off Rheady and getting onto second balls. Then after about 25 minutes in Rheady got sent off!
“It was always going to be a tough one but it was one I’ll never forget.”
Marsden went on to start 13 games, 11 in the League, plus two FA Cup starts.
But his rising star at the club took quite a jolt in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy derby tie at Notts County in September 2014 when he found himself being booed early in the game by his own fans on a night when the whole side took a lot of stick.
“It was a bad night and one to forget, but a lot of the lads had a bad night and you can understand the fans’ frustration,” he said.
“They paid their money to travel there so they had the right to moan and boo. It’s always worse in a local derby too.
“But I wouldn’t say it knocked my confidence really. It’s part and parcel of football and I am sure I am going to get it again in the future as well.
“You can’t really think about it too much. You have to move on and put it to the back of your head.”
Now Marsden must play the dreaded summer waiting game along with hundreds of other released footballers.
“There have been a few little sniffs and bits of interest, but nothing too serious at the minute,” he said.
“I am not going to rush into anything. I will bide my time and hope the right club comes along.
“I do have a Plan B and I have been applying for a few coaching jobs in and around the local area.
“I am not putting all my eggs in one basket, hoping to get a club then wishing I’d applied for jobs earlier.
“I have done my level one coaching badge and I am working towards my level two. I have got my personal training badge as well.
“I have a few qualifications I picked up with the youth team, so there are things I can fall back on.
“I’m not rushing into anything. If the right club comes along I’d be happy to join. But it’s got to be right for me as well.
“I have looked into other job areas so I am not too worried at the minute.”
Although sad he won’t be a part if it, Marsden does feel Stags are on the verge of some seasons to remember and he intends to be down there when he can to cheer his former team mates on.
“I think the club is moving in the right direction and I think the fans should get behind the boys and the club,” he said.
“I think the next few years will be ones to cherish as a fan as I think Stags will do really well and, hopefully, progress into League One.
“I still know a lot of the boys down there and I get along with the manager – I have not fallen out with the manager or anything.
“I will always get down when I can. It is my local club and I will still support them.”