Reflecting on Tuesday night’s local derby at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank, I can’t seem to get the picture and sound of 981 Stags fans out of my head, writes Craig Priest.
Watching on from the other side from my commentary position, the view of so many fans smiling, cheering and having a good time was a joy to behold, add too that the sound of constant singing from start to finish – I’m again reminded that our support is the best in the BSBP.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget what a good strong support we have, especially when we’re travelling to places such as Histon on a Tuesday evening knowing full well we’ll probably get beat. However I do feel those days are behind us and, despite a recent blip in form which has seen us slip out of the play-offs, I’m confident fortunes will change and every game that’s played out will be backed by loud noise from the Mansfield faithful in the away end.
We never seem to be able to match home form to away form though, and with things going so well on the road with just one defeat, our home form has fallen out of kilter – something Paul Cox and the boys need to address. I’m fairly confident tomorrow will see the loose cog fall back into place as second from bottom Alfreton visit field mill, it’s been so long since we had a league ‘derby’ at field mill I’ve visions of a bumper crowd and rocking atmosphere. As we found out last season, Alfreton will provide a tough test so we should not head into the game arrogant and over confident, we must believe in the player’s ability and must help to drive them on to unlock what they have in their lockers but repeat our away vocals – from start to finish.
Our home support is already fantastic, I’m not for one minute saying it’s not – all I’m saying is away from home there is something about us together on the terraces that clicks and spills onto the pitch, you look at performances away from home such as Stockport, Darlington, Wrexham and Lincoln at look at the one constant – Nonstop singing from the amber and blue army. Adam Murray & Ritchie Sutton we’re very appreciative of the fantastic support at yesterday’s press meeting, as was boss Paul Cox who joked about taking the players on a short coach trip around town before arriving at Field Mill together on the coach to recreate that away day feeling. Without going into the whole physiological element and explanations, what was a light hearted joke could actually be a good idea, after all they say 50% maybe more of football, is played in the mind.
Perhaps if they players did create the pre-match away day routine and walked out to an away day type atmosphere, something, no matter how small, may click into place and get the momentum going to propel us back up the table towards the promise land.
With tomorrow being ‘derby day’ against Derbyshire neighbours Alfreton, it’s a great opportunity to test the water; we know that more than three points are on offer, it’s a pride thing too. Whilst it may not be Mansfield Vs Chesterfield, it’s still a derby and you can pretty much guarantee fans of the B2Net stadium club will be backing Alfreton tomorrow, hoping to see Mansfield beaten – remember this and sing loud to win the battle. I guarantee the players will give the correct response, fair enough sales of lemsip and other leading sore throat medicine may go up drastically on Monday morning – but so be it!
On the pitch, newly promoted Alfreton have struggled to settle into life in the BSBP, unable to cope with some silent crowds and a higher standard of football, the players already feel pressured, I know it’s hurtful and nasty but tomorrow we must pile the pressure on even more with an abundance of constant noise. Why? Because in the silence people have time to think and respond, if we’re loud and nonstop something will snap in our visitors mindset, the floodgates will open and the potential the Stags have will shine.
Come 5PM tomorrow, hopefully another three points will be in the bag and the noise from Field Mill will still be ringing around town for all to hear – If so, we can use this as a spring board to set our season alight once more, Field Mill can get a reputation for noise and atmosphere, players of opposing sides will dread their visit because they won’t have time to think, they’ll have no breathing space, our players will thrive on the buzz and before you know it, we’ll be kissing goodbye to the BSBP and saying hello to the football league after a four year absence. Everything, in life and indeed football, has a chain reaction – maybe tomorrow will be the thing to set it off?