Why Mansfield Town will always be special club for Isyeden

Isyeden Christie challenges for the ball against Chester.Isyeden Christie challenges for the ball against Chester.
Isyeden Christie challenges for the ball against Chester.
Isyeden Christie may have a list of clubs as long as your arm, but it was at Mansfield Town where he says he was always happiest.

The Coventry-born striker joined Stags on a free transfer in August 1997, following a successful loan spell, and made more than 90 league and cup appearances for the club over two seasons.

“I did not score in that loan spell but I did ok, Parky (manager Steve Parkin) wanted to sign me which was great,” he said.

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“Coming from Coventry it was a bit of a culture shock, but I ended up really enjoying my time there for the first two years.

Isyeden Christie and Lee Williamson in action for Stags.Isyeden Christie and Lee Williamson in action for Stags.
Isyeden Christie and Lee Williamson in action for Stags.

“It was really good and gave me a good grounding in the game.

“Mansfield was where I was most comfortable. The first time around was a really good place for me to be at. Parky was really good to me.

“They had a lot of older players at the time and it was a really good dynamic. We had a reasonably good team as well in my first spell.

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“We were top of the league at one point in the first season, but we tailed off for lack of squad strength. Unfortunately we couldn't get promoted.”

Christie departed to join Leyton Orient before he returned to Field Mill in August 2002 where he enjoyed a dramatic two seasons for the club.

“Mansfield had just been promoted (to the Third Division), but it was a difficult time for a lot of clubs because of the collapse of ITV digital,” he added.

“I knew Stuart (manager Stuart Watkiss) from my time during the first spell. He needed a forward, I was available and it worked out well for me on a personal level.

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“The club ended up getting relegated, but it was a good season for me personally.”

It didn’t get much easier for Mansfield the following season when they were beaten on penalties by Huddersfield Town in the play-off final.

And for Christie, who went on to play for 21 clubs during his 24 season football career, it was a difficult time emotionally following a lengthy injury lay-off.

“In the second season I got injured late on in the season and missed the run-in and play-off final,” he explained.

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“I didn’t play again for nearly a year after that so it was a really difficult time for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to be part of the squad and travel with the team.

“But it was really difficult. When you are sitting and watching and you can't do anything, it is very frustrating. It was unbearable.”

For Christie, and the Mansfield side of that era, it is always a case of what might have been had the result in Cardiff been different.

“When I went back from Orient, a lot of the lads that came through were all attacking players and it really suited my game,” he said.

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“The team was always built around that really strong midfield, so we couldn’t really do anything but attack. Even Bobby Hassell was an attack-minded full-back, so we were really good going forward.

“We were one of the best in the league, but we did not temper that with the defensive mindset that you need to do well.

“It was not the way I wanted to end my Mansfield career. Had we got promoted something may have been in the pipeline, but it didn’t happen.

“Don’t get my wrong, I still had a reasonable career and I am not going to complain about things that might have been.

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“I had a good experience there, I have been back and played against Mansfield and have always got a really good reception, so I must have done a lot of good things when I was there.”

“I like to keep an eye out on Mansfield and what is going on, when I can get up to a game I try to do so.”

Christie played once in the Premier League for Coventry during a 5-1 defeat at Blackburn on 23 September 1995.

He is also the League Cup record holder for the fastest ever hat-trick after scoring three times in four minutes against Stockport in 1997.

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