VIDEO: STAGS' GOLDEN GOALS '” George Foster's Freight Rover Trophy stunner for Mansfield Town against Wigan Athletic

It is something that football fans of all clubs argue about. What is the the best, most memorable or favourite goal scored by your heroes?

Friday, 20th January 2017, 9:44 am
Updated Friday, 20th January 2017, 9:47 am

Each week we are taking a look at some of the best to hit the net for Mansfield Town over the past decades. If you have a goal you would like us to feature, email [email protected] with brief details and your memories of the strike and we will try to include in a future article.

Among those suggested for future weeks are Matt Green’s winner at Hereford that set up promotion back to the Football League and an Iyseden Christie equaliser at Notts County.

The third golden goal in our series though was a rocket from captain and future manager George Foster

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George Foster celebrates in 1987 after the Stags' Freight Rover Trophy final triumph.

Several fans suggested this goal on supporters’ website Stagsnet. Rob wrote: “George’s goal is right up there for loads of reasons, the atmosphere and roar when he scored, the quality of the goal and the fact it was Big George — a proper legend.”

Tmwilson said: “I can still see it like it happened yesterday.”

Marky Mark wrote: “Foster’s goal against Wigan is easily the winner of this, definitely my favourite all-time goal. I was in the Quarry Lane end of the Lower West Stand at the time as a 12-year-old. I think I got carted a good 40 yards by the celebrating crowd, (it) took my dad 10 minutes to find me.”

Mapp Stag added: “The George Foster screamer vs Wigan gets my vote. I got strangled by Mike Galloway’s scarf in the West Stand lower and stood next to a very young Steve Foster.”

Tinman, yaxhamstag, Sidney Ottewell and Beano were among others on Stagsnet who also nominated the Foster strike as one of their most memorable.

Foster did not score many goals in his career, just three in 448 games for Mansfield Town and all in cup competitions.

But the one he hammered into the net at the right end in the Freight Rover Trophy Northern Area Final in 1985 will never be forgotten by the 9,214 people crammed into Field Mill that night.

However, how often does a player score a terrific goal in a vital match only for circumstances to quickly spoil everything?

George Foster celebrates in 1987 after the Stags' Freight Rover Trophy final triumph.

When, like Foster, you rarely scored, and then when you did it was at a crucial time in a crucial match, it must have been heartbreaking to see it ultimately count for nothing.

Time might dull the memory of the goal, no matter how good it was. But I, for one, will never forget Foster’s amazing strike on the evening of 20th May. The majority of fans crammed inside the ground were hoping to see little Mansfield Town finally hit the big time and get to Wembley for the first time in their history.

The area final of the competition was later to be a two-legged affair, but on this occasion the Stags team being shaped by Ian Greaves thought they had the advantage when they hosted the one-off final.

Long queues at the turnstiles delayed the kick-off, but then after just 15 minutes disaster struck for the home side and Foster when the big defender deflected a soft shot into his own net.

The Stags rallied, but Wigan keeper Roy Tunks stood firm. Then, just when it looked as though Mansfield’s Wembley dream was over, came the moment I, thousands of Stags fans and Foster himself will always remember.

Neil Whatmore, on the left, skipped past a challenge and laid the ball back towards the centre of the pitch, about 25 to 30 yards out from goal.

There were just 40 seconds of injury time left when Foster thundered forward and crashed an unstoppable drive into the back of the net to wipe out his unfortunate own goal.

Field Mill erupted. Foster led an emotionally-charged celebration towards the dugouts and manager Greaves,

Cue pandemonium on and off the pitch. For sheer drama, tension and wow factor, the goal was one of the most exciting I have seen watching the Stags. Not only was it an important strike, it was one that would have been fit to grace any match.

Sadly the celebrations — though understandable and merited — were premature.

Extra-time failed to produce a winner, but the Stags lost a penalty shoot-out 3-1 as Steve Whitworth, Mick Vinter and Whatmore all failed to convert from the spot.

The Wembley dream was over and Foster’s wonderful hit quickly counted for nothing. But anyone at Field Mill that night will never forget it, despite the heartache that followed.

However, there was a happy ending. Captain Foster led the Stags to promotion from Division Four the following season and then, two years after their area final sorrow, Mansfield Town made it to the final of the Freight Rover Trophy and proud Foster lifted the trophy.

The Stags beat Bristol City on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Kevin Kent striking their, so far, only goal in open play at the home of English football. But more of that in a future feature.

Foster, who made more than 650 league appearances in a career that also saw him play at Plymouth Argyle, Torquay United, Exeter City, Derby County, also went on to manage the Stags from 1989-1993.