Has there ever been a better time to be a Mansfield Town fan, particularly in the modern era?
I doubt it, having watched a lot of football at Field Mill — sorry, One Call Stadium — for many years.
Yes, winning promotion back to the Football League under Paul Cox was exciting — and necessary — and some of the football in the Liam Lawrence-inspired era at the start of the century led to great days for the fans and a trip to the play-off final.
But right now the excitement generated by manager Steve Evans and his team — so many of them new signings — on the pitch reminds me of the 1986 season when Ian Greaves put together a side that first won promotion and then the Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley.
That was a team that could score goals for fun and played with a smile on its face, and Evans new-look Stags who are chasing promotion remind me of that.
What is different from recent years, and so even more exciting, is that the performances on the pitch are being matched by developments off it that are turning Mansfield Town Football Club into a community again — something the whole town seems to proud of.
The club’s march up the League Two table since Christmas has been led by Evans, a vastly experienced manager — in fact, the most experienced since those heady days under Greaves.
Evans has brought in eight new signings — many of them League Two promotion winners — who have transformed the team, which is now playing positive football that excites the fans.
That surely came about because owner John Radford was able to sell Evans his dream of taking the Stags up the divisions – and prepared to back his manager with the funds necessary to bring in those eight players?
Evans won’t get carried away
Radford, of course, is also developing a planned new training ground at Pleasley among other moves to take the club forward off the pitch.
And the owner is spearheading the generous two-for-one ticket offers that are drawing more fans into the ground on matchdays. Along with that, Radford and others at the club responded positively when approached by supporters James Perrin, Daniel Maddison and Mitch Bailey, who wanted to create a singing section in the Ian Greaves Stand.
The singing fans have adopted a new song to back the side — I’m Into Something Good by Herman’s Hermits — and, of course, adapted the lyrics.
It goes something like this:
Woke up this morning feelin’ fine.
I’ve got Mansfield on my mind,
Stevie’s got ‘em playing the way he should, whoa yeah,
Something tells me I’m into something good.
And to help create an even more fervent atmosphere before kick-off another club song is played — a Stags’ version of Elvis Presley’s The Wonder Of You to cheer on the amber and blue.
The atmosphere inside One Call Stadium has been transformed by both players and fans alike. The place is buzzing and the fans being drawn into the club will surely return.
All so often in the past the Stags players would fail to perform on the pitch in front of big crowd. Not anymore.
And that crowd is containing more and more youngsters as the Stags expands its family section and matchday experience for the fans of the future.
The football club is a place that is used away from football seven days a week, from meals in the Sandy Pate Bar, to functions and entertainment in the 1861 and Kevin Bird suites, not to mention as an office or classroom by businesses and schoolchildren during the week.
Now coupled with a successful team on the pitch and a feelgood factor around the club, Mansfield Town is suddenly the place to be and has every right to feel it is into something good! Long may it continue.