OPINION: Mansfield Town fans restore faith in sporting spirit as Stags still into something good

Mansfield Town v Newport County in the Sky Bet League 2. Mansfield player Shaquile Coulthirst scores Mansfield's 2nd goal. Picture: Chris Etchells
Mansfield Town v Newport County in the Sky Bet League 2. Mansfield player Shaquile Coulthirst scores Mansfield's 2nd goal. Picture: Chris Etchells

In a week when football was not seen at its best – be it through pie-gate in the FA Cup or the shock sacking of Claudio Ranieri in the Premier League – it was Mansfield Town’s generous fans who showed the true community spirit of sport.

An anonymous supporter, who wanted only to be known as Wilfred - his user name on fans website Stagsnet – paid for a season ticket for a young fan whose mum is fighting cancer.

Brendan Whitehead is described by his dad, Paul, as a godsend and has been strong in difficult times for the family.

What a gesture by Wilfred, who also paid for a season ticket for dad Paul and will do again next season – as well as providing a Stags season ticket for a father and son for the rest of his life.

Wilfred was moved partly by stories of Brendan, who was visited by Stags boss Steve Evans at Christmas, and also by watching a video of Mansfield Town’s expanding family section.

It was all an example of the growing link between the Stags, its supporters and the community as a whole.

Generous Mansfield Town supporter pays for season ticket for brave fan

Stags fans present Mansfield Town with £10,000

A club sponsor, Acorn Signs, paid tribute to Wilfred’s generosity by changing its advertising hoarding – damaged by Storm Doris - on Saturday to publicly thank him.

And last week one of the fans’ groups, the Stags Supporters Association (SSA), carried on its fundraising for the club by donating £10,000 towards that family section and for use elsewhere at One Call Stadium.

It all put a smile on the face of this football fan... as did the rousing minute’s applause before kick-off in tribute to lifelong fan Stan Barnes, who died recently.

The fans – there were almost 3,700 home supporters as another two-for-one ticket offer went down well - then launched into vocal renditions of new club anthem I’m Into Something Good.

To their credit the noise levels didn’t drop too much, despite the shock of going behind to an early goal – the eighth conceded in less than 180 minutes.

That goal meant it was the first real test of manager Evans’ stewardship of the club after a flying start to the new year.

The 4-4 thriller against Accrington, the 3-0 heavy defeat at Grimsby and conceding the early goal to Newport meant problems for Evans and the Stags.

But they came through in difficult conditions against dogged opponents, despite not being at their best defensively for the third successive match and despite losing keeper Jake Kean to injury.

Chances were created going forward, but the Stags often looked vulnerable to counter-attacks

Mansfield Town 2-1 Newport County

Evans delighted as Stags return to winning ways

Stags warrior Maguire relishes Newport battle

It was possibly the biggest test for manager Evans and his new-look squad since it took shape during January.

And somehow they found a way to pass the test and win 2-1 – helped, admittedly, by a remarkable red card for Jaanai Gordon, who was booked twice in as many minutes after almost being substituted, and then a disputed penalty.

The win, a first in three matches, was badly needed to keep the Stags outside the play-off places only on goal difference.

After a terrific week off the field, it was the perfect way for Evans’ team to repay the fans.

Mansfield Town are still into something good!