John-Joe O’Toole loving Mansfield Town’s fans seven years after almost coming to blows with a few

John-Joe O'Toole is convinced Mansfield Town can achieve success this season – and admitted his relationship with the Stags fan had come a long way since being sent off for Northampton at the One Call Stadium back in 2015.

Thursday, 27th January 2022, 10:16 am
John-Joe O'Toole of Northampton is shown a red card after his scuffle with Ritchie Suton back in 2015.
John-Joe O'Toole of Northampton is shown a red card after his scuffle with Ritchie Suton back in 2015.

The 33-year-old has signed a two and a half year deal with Stags and, having tasted promotion at Northampton, believes something is definitely in the air in Mansfield – and he said the fans were helping that drive that success.

“There is definitely a real buzz about the place and the fans are right behind the team. They make you almost give a little bit more,” he said.

“I know it shouldn't work like that, but when they are right behind you it just helps you – especially when you go to places like Barrow and they cheer every kick.

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“They've been brilliant since I've been here.

“I can remember 'John-Joe O'Toole Day' when I nearly got into a fight with a few of them in the car park.

“I was having a bad day in the office to say the least and I wanted to rip a couple of their heads off!

“We've come a long way since then and now I am high-fiving them and fist-bumping them.

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“You just want this to last forever – you don't get these seasons very often. I have had very few of them.

“So when you get them you want to enjoy it and you're all in it together as a club. You have to make sure you enjoy the good times.”

O'Toole has belief in the ability of his new dressing room as they aim for a club record eighth straight EFL win against visiting Leyton Orient on Saturday.

“I was desperate to get in anywhere when I first signed. But coming here and getting the opportunity to play, it's really clicked,” he said.

“We've gone up the league and we now have a real chance of making something of this season.

“But we've just got to keep the performances going because, as good as it is winning seven on the bounce, it won't count for much if we go backwards.

“You mustn't start getting carried away and thinking you're bigger than you are.

“We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and need to keep our feet firmly on the ground, but it's been clear from the second I walked in they've got everything here.

“It's a great changing room – we have a bit of everything in there. You can see the potential. We also have a great manager and coaching staff so I don't see why we can't go the full way.

“No one we've played this season has really blown me away, which is probably down to us more than them.

“We need to stay focused and keep churning out the performances.”

O'Toole said it gets harder to stay up there as the season progresses.

“It takes a lot of hard work and I think there's a level of expectation now,” he said.

“ Standards are set pretty high which makes it even harder.

“The more the season goes on it will get harder and harder – especially when you're up there. Sometimes it's easy getting there and the hardest thing is staying there.

“But I think we've hit form at the right time and no one is going to be wanting to play us.

“I have had seasons at clubs where we've had a lot of good players but it doesn't work out. Confidence is a massive thing.

“Players were a bit low on confidence when I came here but once you get a couple of wins under your belt, things look up and it picks the place up.”

Known more for his quality as a midfielder, O'Toole has impressed as a centre half since joining Mansfield.

“I have more experience at centre midfield but this is now my third season playing centre half. So I feel like I have learned a lot – a lot of good and a lot of bad,” he said.

“I have probably learned a bit more from the worst of times.

“Last year at Burton I wasn't good enough which was a hard time for me personally and didn't play after January.

“Midfield is my bread and butter where I've played the majority of my games and I do like playing in there. If there is ever an opportunity to play there I might prefer it.

“But I will play wherever the team needs me and at the minute centre half is going down pretty well. So I'm happy to play there.”

O'Toole was also delighted to see ex-Burton team mate Lucas Akins sign for Stags too and believes he will be a key figure in how the season ends.

“He is brilliant. He is just a handful and will get you goals,” said O'Toole.

“Lucas can work tirelessly for the team and can get hold of it and bring people into play.

“He can play anywhere and he is strong, fit and fast. He will be brilliant for us and he is a great lad to have in the dressing room.

“Lucas is a really good addition. He has so many games under his belt including a lot in League One and the Championship.

“So he has a lot of experience. He has promotions under his belt. It was a really good bit of business for Mansfield.”