MANSFIELD Town chairman John Radford vowed to see his club promoted as champions next season in an emotional speech at Friday night’s end-of-season presentation dinner.
Stags’ hopes of promotion this year were ended by last week’s semi-final play-off defeat by York City, but Mr Radford told a packed marquee outside the One Call Stadium: “Our hopes of a return to the Football League may have been dashed for this year, but make no doubt about it, we will come stronger than ever next term.
“By this time next season, I plan to stand at this podium and say ‘together, we did it. We have returned to the promised land as champions of the Blue Square Bet Premier’.
“All of my efforts will go towards Paul (manager Cox) and the players in helping achieve this goal, a goal which is so important to every one of us here tonight.
“At long last the building blocks have been put in place on the field, and we have all seen for ourselves that the work which has been put in by Paul, his staff and players, is now starting to bear fruit.”
He added: “Despite not reaching our ultimate target, records have still been broken and this is a season of which we can still be proud.
“Matt Green has become the first player since Ray Clarke in 1974-75 to reach the 30 goal feat.
“We have recorded the highest points total ever reached by a Stags side, 50 home goals for the first time since 1976-77 and 11 away wins for the first time since the same season.
“Our youth team remained unbeaten in the league right the way through until March - a fantastic achievement for our new youth team’s debut year.
“Steve Hymas and his team of Mark Hemingray and Mark Lynk, along with Mark Hawkins, are to be congratulated for their efforts in developing our young players this season.
“Off the pitch and midway through the campaign, another moment was written in our history books as we claimed our home back and put it into the club’s hands for the first time in 15 years.
“To regain the One Call Stadium was monumental for our club. Development can now be started to improve the club in a visible fashion so that step by step, day by day, we can continue to improve the stadium for you, our supporters.
“Many of you have asked me what I intend to do with the Bishop Street Stand, but I have said that, at the moment, I want to put all my resources into helping Paul and the players get back into the league - so I guess work will start on the stand next summer!
“I know Paul has said that this season is one in which we have not been successful, but let me say this - on the pitch, you, your coaching staff and players, have made great strides forward, and we are all fully behind you next season to go even further to bring title home!
“Let me be clear - this club is going places. Enjoy the journey with us.”
Luke O’Neill landed the Chad Readers’ Stags player of the year trophy, which was presented by Chad reader Alistair Eggleshaw and Chad sports editor John Lomas.
Mr Eggleshaw won the Chad draw for readers who had voted for O’Neill and attended the dinner with son Anthony and daughter Rachel.
O’Neill ended the night with three trophies, but top scorer Matt Green took the lion’s share with five while Ross Dyer won two as did Scott Rofers in the junior awards section.
Vice presidents’ goal of the season: Alan Marriott (v Wrexham, presented by Barry Coleman). Top goalscorer, sponsored by The Mint: Matt Green – (30 goals in all competitions, presented by Faz Chowdrey., 12th Stag player of the season: Ross Dyer (presented by Stacey Webb). Westfield & New Inn Stags player of the season: Luke O’Neill (presented by David Ball & Michael Scully). Pleasley Stags player of the season: Ross Dyer (presented by Chris Revill). Goal of the Season sponsored by Greene King: Louis Briscoe (for his sensational strike against Barrow, presented by Nick Aldridge). The Emma Stamp Memorial Trophy for the most man of the match awards: Luke O’Neill (presented by: Leanne Gravil). Ollerton Stags player of the season: Matt Green (presented by Ian Noble). Stags Supporters’ Association player of the season: Matt Green (presented by Helena Lord). Players’ player of the season sponsored by T4 Design: Matt Green (presented by Adam Murray). Player of the season sponsored by One Call: Matt Green (presented by chairman John Radford and chief executive officer Carolyn Still)
Young player of the season: Liam Marsden (resented by: Steve Hymas), Jack Retter Trophy SSA young player of the season: Scott Rogers (presented by Anne Matthews), Coleman’s MOT Young player of the season Scott Rogers (presented by Barry Coleman), Coleman’s MOT Academy Golden Boot award: Adam Somes (presented by Barry Coleman).
Championship club Burnley are reputed to be interested in Stags’ full back Luke O’Neill, who landed three of the player of the year awards on Friday.
O’Neill was signed from Leicester City last summer and Mansfield still have a year’s option on his contract.