CURLE FEELS THE PAIN OF RELEGATION
CURLE FEELS THE PAIN OF RELEGATION
STAGS boss Keith Curle was clearly hurting as his side crashed out of Division Two due to other results, despite the half-time abandonment of Saturday's game at Tranmere.
But Tuesday's return to Prenton Park will now be an empty one with wins for Chesterfield and Cheltenham condemning Stags to Third Division football next season.
"To say I am disappointed is a big understatement," said Curle.
"This is my first manager's job and all my CV now says is failure.
"With all that ability in that changing room I believed we had enough to keep us up.
"You can look back at certain things in certain matches. But the truth is a lot of things were wrong when I came to this football club. I have been making changes and now believe we have laid the foundations to put this club in good stead for the future.
"I came here to stat my managerial career and I want to carry on. I have a good relationship with the chairman and both of us have been identifying areas we thing are wrong and need changing.
"Some people may not like those changes but they are all for the long term good of Mansfield Town.
"I will now sit down with the chairman and find out what guidelines I have to adhere to for next season.
"I will tell him which players I want out and which players I want in though I know he runs a tight and professional ship.
"The fans have been absolutely magnificent. The club was going nowhere when we arrived. But we quickly won three matches and gave them a bit of hope. Credit to them, they have stuck with us.
"I feel very wounded and I wish certain circumstances could have been different. I think we had 95 per cent of things right. But the other five per cent kicked us up the backside."
Chairman Keith Haslam added: "I am obviously bitterly disappointed to see us relegated as are everyone at the club.
"It makes it worse that I believe overall we were good enough to survive at this level.
"I want to thank our supporters who have been magnificent all season in their conduct, behaviour and support for the team.
"I am confident we are a better side now than the one which was promoted this time last year.
"Just three weeks ago we believed we could take nine points from our last four home matches and be safe which we were very capable of. But we've fallen at the final hurdle which is very frustrating.
"Survival in Division Two was our motive this year. Other clubs have been saying, after seeing our performances, they can't believe we are in this position.
"Early in the season when we had a disappointing run of results we were shambolic. We have tightened up since then and man for man we are as good as most clubs in the division which is a good base to build on. We were not outclassed for long periods of the season at all.
"Yes it is a step backwards we are taking. But we are taking it from a very strong base and I want to see this club now move forward again. I am very proud of he club and very proud of the supporters. The two go hand in hand as the club is the supporters.
"We have got to be very confident next season. I am confident in my manager and the staff and players.
"We now have to move forward and not linger on what might have been or could have been.
"We have to be positive. No one wanted this to happen. We have to get over it. It is my first experience of relegation and I don't like it.
"It is going to be a very interesting year next year and I believe we are more than capable of challenging for promotion again.
"The Third Division is never an easy one to bounce back from. But I think and hope when the betting for next season comes out for next season that we will be one of the favourites for promotion.
"Last season when we did go up we were only expected to finish in the bottom half of the table according to the betting. So if we are among the favourites this time it will shows the perception of this club round the country has gone up.
"The club has certainly moved on. We have pushed our gates up from 2,500 to the best part of 5,000 and I hope we will retain them next season.
"It's all about belief and, in all fairness, if we start the first three months of the season well I don't think gates will drop.
"I believe in what I have here or I wouldn't be here and I hope supporters do too. If they have any questions I would be happy to answer them and I hope to see you all back next season.
"Before then we have Saturday's game with Northampton to look forward to and let's have a good end to the season. Let's go out on a high.
"I don't want Saturday to be doom and gloom. Let's show our spirit and use it as a bonding experience and move on.
"All right, we have gone down. But we are going to come back and we are good enough to do it."
CURLE 'HURT' IN WORST DAY OF HIS CAREER
Evening Post, 28 April 2003
Stags boss Keith Curle today described Stags' relegation to Division Three as the worst moment of his career.
"This is the biggest disappointment I have suffered in the game," Curle said. "I have been lucky to have had a great career as a professional player but being relegated really hurts.
"I look around our changing room and see the players I have got in there and I think we had enough to keep us up in the Second Division, but things happened in certain matches and they have cost us.
"I have come in and changed a few things at the club and I am sure that will leave us in good stead.
"I came here to start my managerial career and I want to stay. There is no question about that.
"A lot of people don't like change but some things had to be done. The chairman suggested things he wants changed that we know are going to be good in the long term."
Curle's next job will be to begin preparing for an assault on next year's Division Three title.
"Every manager has a shopping list and I have to sit down with the chairman to discuss who I would like to bring to the club and who I would like to leave," he added.
"The fans have been absolutely magnificent. It has been a real rollercoaster ride. When I came to the club, we had 15 points from 20 games and were going absolutely nowhere.
"We had three quick wins that gave them a bit of hope. They have stuck with us and I thank them for that.
"To go to Blackpool with 1,100 fans was brilliant and I think they know, like I do, we had enough in the changing room to stay up.
"At the end of it, I feel wounded.
"The headlines will read that Mansfield were relegated and that is what matters to me.
"The first thing on my managerial CV is that I have been relegated and that hurts."
Stags travel to Prenton Park again tomorrow before completing their season against fellow relegation victims Northampton Town at Field Mill on Saturday.
HASLAM: WE'LL BOUNCE BACK
Evening Post, 28 April 2003
Disappointed Stags chairman Keith Haslam said he was confident the club would fight back stronger following relegation to Division Three.
Haslam, who is looking forward to celebrating ten years at the helm at Field Mill, conceded that elementary mistakes had put paid to Mansfield's hopes of avoiding the drop. "Obviously, relegation is a massive disappointment and it isn't something I have experienced in football before," Haslam said.
"I don't like it and I know Keith and all his staff don't like it either.
"But we have got to be positive and bounce back straight away and I am confident that we are more than capable of doing that.
"Lessons have got to be learned from this season. Before we started this season, I think there were people around who thought we would not be good enough for this level but I believed we were.
"We put in a lot of good performances and if games had been 87 minutes long then we would have had 13 more points.
"But then it is all 'if's and 'but's.
"It has been down to elementary mistakes and you can never say that you were too good to go down.
"All the clubs who have visited Field Mill this season have said that they thought we were good enough to stay up.
"We can now build for next season in the knowledge that we are good enough to hold our own in the Second Division.
"If we have a good season next year, I am confident that we can move on from this because the club is certainly in a better position than it was even a year ago."
MAN CHARGED AS STAGS GAME IS ABANDONED
Evening Post, 28 April 2003
A Man was due before Wirral magistrates today charged in connection with an incident that forced the abandonment of Mansfield Town's game at Tranmere.
On an afternoon when Stags were relegated to Division Three because of results elsewhere, their match was halted at half-time. Around 7,500 fans watching the game at Prenton Park were asked to leave after a man allegedly climbed up a pylon and onto the roof of the Cow Shed stand.
Stephen James Anglesey, 42, of Pennine Road, Tranmere, was charged with threatening behaviour, being drunk at a designated sporting event and aggravated trespass.
Police decided to clear the stands for safety reasons.
Referee Michael Ryan abandoned the match as it was unclear how long the players would have to wait.
Stags were losing 2-0 at the time of the incident.
But events at Prenton Park proved immaterial for Keith Curle's side as victories for Cheltenham and Chesterfield saw them relegated after just one season back in the Second Division.
The game is due to be replayed tomorrow and admission for both sets of supporters is free.
Stags chairman Keith Haslam said: "I believe the right decision was made because safety concerns have to come first."
Manager Keith Curle was more concerned that his team will be playing in the basement division again next season.
He said: "Whatever the reason for the abandonment, the headlines will read that Mansfield were relegated and that really hurts.
"I look around the changing room and I think we had players of sufficient quality to have stayed up."
IT'S SILLY SEASON FOR THE STAGS
Evening Post, 28 April 2003
Tranmere Rovers v Mansfield Town (Match abandoned)
The half-time whistle was greeted by delight from the Tranmere faithful and the rest of us were left to shrug our shoulders.
Reaffirming our relationship with Division Three had been on the cards for weeks and, with Cheltenham already a couple of goals ahead, we knew the game was up and the second 45 minutes would be something to endure rather than enjoy.
Watch the game, get the quotes from the manager, jump in the car and get home as quick as possible without disturbing a speed camera.
It was all over and I made a mental note that I had to dig out my cricket whites that evening.
There was one last opportunity to sample a Division Two away cuppa, gratefully taken, but, while everyone else did the usual of discussing the first 45 minutes, trying to catch scores elsewhere, or just generally attempting to have their voices heard over the Atomic Kitten track blasting from the PA, attention turned to one corner of the ground.
I managed to see the bottom half of a pair of jeans going up the floodlights.
Surely it was just a loose bulb or a dodgy connection that needed fixing but, as always during the interval when you can do little but stare into the space in front of you, 8,000 fans were charting his progress, engrossed by such a mundane spectacle as a bloke climbing a ladder.
There was the odd cheer but after he'd climbed to the top I lost sight of him. However, I was reliably informed that he was still up there for five, then ten, then 15 minutes.
Come on, son. They'll be back out in a minute. Get it sorted and we can get on with it.
But it soon became apparent this was a leisure pursuit and vertigo and the dripping rain did not seem to be an issue. He was quite content in his own little world, holding up the whole show.
He started stepping back down again and came back into view to all of us under the stand, but then decided on being a daredevil rather than greeting his impending arrest with the same grace and resignation that we had accepted relegation.
He jumped onto the roof of the adjacent Cowshed Stand, under which the Stags supporters were trying to rally each other to make sure the side went out with a bang.
By now, with other games already ten minutes into the second half, he was beginning to get on everybody's wick.
Supporters, players, managers and officials watched from the dugout, baffled.
The Stags fans were the first to be ushered out of the Cowshed, soon to be followed by the occupants of the other sides of the ground.
At this point the fire brigade arrived and apparently the police negotiator started climbing the ladder, followed by Fireman Sam.
They grabbed hold of him and plonked him in their lifting thing. He was moved back past disgruntled punters baying for blood and escorted off down the side of the pitch, past an empty stand and into a waiting van.
It was perhaps a fitting end to the Stags season.
It's been bizarre to say the least.
A total of 63 goals in the "For" column is respectable by any standards but, unfortunately, 93 against isn't.
Most Mondays I have walked into the office to be greeted by comments of the "it-must-have-been-a-cracker" variety after the latest seven-goal, last-gasp defeat.
And there have been some great games in Stags' solitary season on this trip out of the basement.
On reflection, "great" is not the right word.
They have been memorable and the Tranmere game is the one I will recall above all others, though I never thought I would say that after watching the Stags concede three goals after the 87th minute to somehow lose to Bristol City after being 4-2 up.
Although it is hard sometimes in this job, you have to try to be neutral and, in that respect, it has been a fantastic season, with more goals than you could shake a stick at.
You can have too much of a good thing and, while others may pray for a belting action-packed 4-3, there have been times when I have craved a 0-0 draw.
I went to Prenton Park on Saturday expecting something extraordinary.
Either the Stags were going to pull it off or they were going to get stuffed. There was no half-way house.
We now face a midweek trek to Tranmere for a game that has little meaning for either side, as the home team's play-off hopes are over.
But while others cursed about the abandonment of the game, I could only smile.
The end of Stags' season has been given a bizarre twist befitting a bizarre season.
Latest | April 2003