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We won’t end up another Shaw Lane vow ambitious AFC Mansfield

AFC Mansfield manager Rudy Funk
AFC Mansfield manager Rudy Funk

AFC Mansfield won’t break the bank for success and implode at their new higher level this coming season.

That was the confident message coming from the Bulls camp this week as non-League football digested the demise of Yorkshire club Shaw Lane, who had come so far so soon since their inception in 2012.

Ducks’ chairman Craig Wood pulled the plug on the club this week, frustrated at decisions barring him from changing their name to Barnsley Town, and having thrown over a million pounds at it only to see crowds stagnate at Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division level.

AFC Mansfield were promoted to the same league, a division below, this summer and consolidation and respect are top of the agenda, though the Bulls believe they are putting together a very competitive squad.

STAGS FANS LAMENT LOSS OF SHAW LANE

AFC chairman Andy Saunders said: “What happened with Shaw Lane came as a total surprise. We didn’t see it coming at all.

“It is a warning to all clubs. We all know that football clubs find their level of football. If you move up a level the costs increase.

“What has happened at Shaw Lane is a shot across the bows for lots of people.

“This coming season is all about consolidation and anything else would be a bonus.”

Manager Rudy Funk said the Shaw Lane scenario would never happen at AFC Mansfield as there were too many level-headed people there.

“I don’t worry about things like that here,” he said.

“If you get your act together, work everything out from day one and stay level-headed – which we do here – you should never suffer those scenarios.

“You look up and down the country. It’s not just Shaw Lane and it’s not just non-League. It’s rife throughout League football.

“Everyone wants success overnight and they are paying out a lot of money.

“Some of the budgets are very heavy – and they pay the price - though it’s not always football-related.

“If you don’t plan ahead you come unstuck. As long as I am around and I work with someone like Andy Saunders there is no danger of that for the simple reason there are so many level-headed people here. That’s what it’s all about.”

Funk said they would respect their new level and aim for consolidation, though he felt the strength of their squad may surprise a club or two.

“You have to be hugely respectful, first and foremost to the league,” he said.

“There are so many established teams that have been in this league for so many years. They know how to work it.

“Having said that, I think we have made some fantastic signings over the last three or four weeks. So we will go into this league with great confidence.

“We had so many great players here last year and the majority of them have stayed. With the new ones coming in I feel we are a very strong outfit.

“We’ll see where the first season takes us and take stock from that.”

AFC Mansfield have retained 12 players from the side that got them up from the Northern Counties East League last season and have added four new names so far – two with Evo-Stik League experience.

Vastly experienced striker Brad Wells has signed from Stamford to join fellow new boy and striker brother Kieran Wells, who has played for both Basford and Stamford at Evo-Stik level.

They join Hemsworth Miners Welfare’s 6ft 5ins centre half Jack Steers and Sheffield FC midfielder Pat Lindley, who had already put pen to paper.

Pre-season training begins on 7th July when trialists are expected to fight for the remaining squad places.

“This is the best time of the season for me, said Funk. “You are speaking to players and engaging with different characters.

“It can be a bit of a waiting game, but it’s enjoyable.”

AFC Mansfield are looking for a new club secretary following Paul Hunter’s decision to step down.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time as this is the busiest time of the year for a secretary when you’re signing players,” said Andy Saunders.

“It is much easier during the season itself. I’m doing the job myself for the moment but would love to hear from anyone who would like to come in and take it over.”

He can be contacted via andrewasaunders@aol.com or 07973 491739.