Despite the sunshine beaming down on Mansfield over the past few days, you can still see the changing seasons taking affect all around the area, writes Craig Priest.
You walk down a road for example and see a tree still in the summer green on one side, whilst on the other you seen the brown autumn leaves beginning to form & fall to the ground below.
I was walking back from the shop on Wednesday morning after purchasing my copy of the Chad, when I saw the scene I’ve just described. I smiled, remembering the previous night’s game at Wrexham as I saw a football pitch which was covered in the autumn leaves from surrounding tree’s,
I noticed a few folks having a kick around and one appeared to lose before walking off in a huff, it’s then I realised that the tree’s & surroundings aren’t the only things changing – our beloved Mansfield Town are too, from a fragile broken team into real, true, deserved champions.
Looking back at our September run we’ve been outstanding in very contrasting games, First Darlington and mending broken hearts. Despite a rebuild in the summer, our squad still has players who were part of that Wembley heartbreak, having to walk past the FA Trophy in reception was like another dagger to the heart.
However on the pitch the old boys had clearly told the Wembley woe tale to the new lads as they all dug deep to get victory, the roar emotion on show from Murray, Naylor, Futcher, Green, Dyer and co showed that the togetherness is there, the new lads didn’t have the ‘well that was your heartbreak’ attitude towards our Wembley heroes, instead they took of the ‘Together we can put it right’ attitude which was a delight to see and is the true mark of a successful club worth of the title ‘Champions’.
In football you have to be ruthless too, sometimes being nice doesn’t get you anywhere. The stags showed there ruthless streak in front of the TV cameras, smashing Newport 5-0. But do you know the best thing about that game? No not Briscoe’s volley (which I could watch a million more times), but the fact despite our big win, we showed no arrogance afterwards, it’s so easy for players to let ego’s inflate to four times there bank balance after such a victory, however Mansfield didn’t which is another true mark of a ‘Champion’.
Next it was the ugly side of the game, with grit and determination shining through at Holker Street as we saw off a tough Barrow 3-2. Prior to the game Mansfield had kept four consecutive clean sheets and saw their mentality tested with 25 minutes gone, Louis Almonds strike saw Mansfield finally concede a goal after 397 minutes of football.
A draw against a strong AFC Telford followed before we crumbled last Saturday against Kidderminster Harriers. There’s no point harping on about who was at fault etc, it will spoil the mood again, the fact is we weren’t good enough as Paul Cox admitted. Another sign of a ‘Champion’ is admitting when your beaten, the next step is to go and put things right and remember in the process that Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time we fall, something we did in Wales on Tuesday evening, proving again on the way were true champions.
The spirit, courage, desire, ability, work rate and fight we showed was tremendous and we proved that you can achieve anything if you’re willing to work for it, no matter what hurdles & challenges you face.
As the final whistle blew in Wrexham, I knew that this was going to be Mansfield’s season to return to the promise land,
October will be another difficult challenge, especially at Forest Green Rovers on Saturday with Briscoe, Naylor and the outstanding Futcher all suspended. However we have strength in depth and an inner quality waiting to shine, so bring on the trip to Nailsworth & all that follows as Mansfield Town FC, continue their change in seasons.