Playing comeback for former Stags ace, aged 48?

1991 Stags v Huddersfield Ian Stringfellow
1991 Stags v Huddersfield Ian Stringfellow

Even at the age of 48, former Stags midfielder Ian Stringfellow is contemplating another playing comeback in his home town of Tauranga, New Zealand.

Currently back over in Mansfield for a visit, Stringfellow, who graced the Amber and Blue from 1985 to 1994, scoring 28 goals in 163 games, said: “Obviously the standard is nowhere near what it is in England, but it’s a bit of fun.

1989 Stags v Walsall Ian Stringfellow

1989 Stags v Walsall Ian Stringfellow

“I was playing until two years ago and I am thinking of making a comeback next year.

“I think I have another season or two in me yet.

“My wife rolls her eyes as she has seen enough comebacks over the years.

“But it’s just for fun and if you can still get around the pitch you should play. I am still in decent shape and whenever things start hurting you can stop.”

1989 Stags v Northampton Ian Stringfellow

1989 Stags v Northampton Ian Stringfellow

He recalled: “We left the UK in 2004. I wasn’t playing football at that point.

“Every footballer has got an injury that niggles them and mine was Achille’s tendonitis.

“So I stopped playing and we moved over the New Zealand for a lifestyle change, as a lot of British people do.

“After I was there for about a year I started playing football again as the inflammation had gone down and I’ve had a few good years since.

“This is our third trip back to Mansfield. I have been to see games every time we’ve been back in 2013, 2015 and now.”

Stringfellow knows how lucky he was to taste success with his hometown club and play in a winning side at Wembley.

“I was lucky that I was involved at a time when the club was successful,” he said.

“I played in the team that won the Freight Rover Trophy in 1987.

“But in 1986 we got promoted from Division Four so there was a lot of buzz and excitement here, though I wasn’t involved in that season apart from a cameo appearance I think in the last game.

“From that Ian Greaves era came the promotion and the Freight Rover.

“We did have a couple of lean years then before George Foster took us up again in 1992.”

He continued: “I was reading Tottenham’s Danny Rose saying hadn’t won anything yet and was desperate to win something.

“I was then thinking I wasn’t around that long so with a promotion and Wembley, I have to be pretty thankful for that.

“I don’t think you can beat that Wembley experience. Maybe it’s different now.

“I always thought I don’t want to be one of those guys who is harking on to the old days. But Wembley in 87 was quite a special event.

“There were very few chances for a club to get there - the FA Cup final, the League Cup final and the Freight Rover Trophy, which was probably in its infancy, maybe two or three years old then. So it was a really special occasion.

“Nowadays you have play-off finals and FA Cup semi-finals which are great. But you can’t beat the feeling when I went there.

“The promotion in 92 would come a close second – the way we did it in the end on the last day and wondering what was going on with rivals Blackpool was great.

“The day we beat Rochdale here was like a mini Wembley – the same sort of atmosphere.”

He said his worst moments as a Stag were injuries and relegation.

“My worst moment was always the injuries. I had a few setbacks. I had a hernia operation in the early days of when that injury was diagnosed – Gilmore’s Groin and Mr Gilmore was doing six a day or whatever.

“Then I had glandular fever which really knocked me back. It was those periods.

“We did get relegated while I was here and as a footballer that is always one of your lowest experiences.”

Unfortunately, Stringfellow missed out on the 30th anniversary Freight Rover reunion earlier this year.

“I was really disappointed,” he said. “Kevin Kent got in touch in in January/February time to say it was on, but we’d already got this trip planned otherwise we’d have probably been able to work it differently.

“It was great to see the pictures. I think there were only a couple of us missing which was fantastic. I don’t know who tracked everyone down but they did a great job.”