Matty Blair is looking forward to winning over the Mansfield Town faithful after being the town’s public enemy number one when his extra-time goal for York wrecked Stags’ play-off final dreams in 2012.
Wing ace Blair (25), who joined Stags this week from Fleetwood Town, was man of the match that bleak night and, as well as scoring the only goal, was hacked down by Ritchie Sutton for a second yellow card offence for the Stags defender.
Now the Warwick-born youngster is delighted to be back in the Midlands and wants to become hero with the home fans after serving his time as villain.
“It’s nice to be local again,” he smiled. “I always loved coming here though I know I’ve earned a bit of a reputation.
“I have had a couple tweets and messages, a couple of the players are still here from that game.
“But it’s one of them isn’t it? I was in the right place at the right time to score that goal. I hope now I can be in the right place at the right time and score some goals for Mansfield.
“Both clubs deserved their League status. Both are special clubs and bigger than their Conference status was with their travelling support and stadiums.”
Blair was already on manager Murray’s radar, but the move was made even more urgent this week when Stags winger Rob Taylor suddenly left to join Tranmere.
“It’s been a wild one,” said Blair. “I woke up on Monday a Fleetwood player. Then I got a phone call saying they were offering me a settlement and Mansfield were putting in an offer as well.
“Tuesday evening I ended up signing here and away you go.
“I wasn’t playing at Fleetwood so it was heading towards us parting company. I was just desperate to start going again.
“The Mansfield offer came in pretty quickly so it all tied in very well.
“I’d been living up in Fleetwood, but my family and friends are in Coventry and my girlfriend is in Worcester. So it’s great to be back at home.
“A few of the lads here are from the Birmingham and Leicester areas so I need to get to know them a bit better and it may all fit in.”
He added: “York were so good to me. Not just the players and staff, but the whole club. I love the place to bits. I think they were brilliant.
“Fleetwood were excellent as well and made me feel very welcome. But this week I felt it best for all parties to go. It was driving me mad by the end.
“I was in the team at the end of the season and I felt I had done well. We got promotion and the confidence was there. I was confident and playing well at the start of this year. I was exactly the same.
“But they made changes and if you are out of favour, you are out of favour.
“Now I am looking forward to getting going again. I know what I can do and it shouldn’t take me too long to get my match fitness back up to where it should be as I am quite a fit lad anyway.
“I have not had it for a while, the preparation for a Saturday, thinking I am going to get some game time. I hope that will be the case this weekend and I am looking forward to it.
“There is no better feeling than winning a game of football if you are playing and involved. I want to be part of it.
“The lads here have welcomed me so much I feel like I have been here six months with the way they have spoken to me and treated me.
“I know I have to get something right and I have got to earn the respect of the manager, players, fans and media. There is only one way to do that and that’s on the pitch. I know what I’ve go to do.”
Blair feels former York boss Gary Mills brought out the best in him – and he feels he is going to be given the same freedom by his new club.
“A lot of it is down to Gary Mills,” he said. “He’d tell me to go out and express myself and give me the licence to end up right wing or left hand side. We had a great unit there who would always cover you.
“The exciting part of coming here is that Adam Murray knows I can play different roles other than right wing, something that maybe didn’t help me at Fleetwood where maybe they just saw me as a right winger.
“I felt at Fleetwood that if I tried things, if I went for a pass that didn’t come off, I would be dragged off.
“Here is training when things don’t come off, you are just told to go again. You just want someone to put their trust in you.”