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Archived News from September 2003

18th September 2003 19:58

Well worth a read
From Bury official site:
Simon's Diary – Mansfield
Simon Egan continues his travels around the third division with a Tuesday night game at Mansfield. The latest entry in his match by match diary

Tuesday night so it must be football somewhere. I have always scoffed at the whines of players who feel aggrieved at playing so many matches in a season. Get a proper job I thought but, I have to tell you that having attended all the Shaker's matches so far this season, I am amazed at just how fast they come around.

Anyway Tuesday night and it is off to Mansfield, meet up at 4.30pm and away we go courtesy of Pete Walsh and Tower FM.

For a change the journey was relatively straightforward and we arrived at Field Mill in good time to be met at the car park by the stewards and it was all down hill from there on in!

“Park in bay 35. I'll show you where it is.” And show us he did. He walked in front of the car to guide us to our space and as we moved sedately across the car park I was reminded of the olden days when cars were escorted by men waving red flags to warn everyone that the horseless carriage was coming through. Needless to say bay 35 was full so we were then told to park in bay 18.

Not a problem. We swung around, parked up, and got out of the car just as a suited gentleman came rushing over. “You can't park there. Those are directors spaces.” Mr. Walsh rose admirably to the task “we have just been told to park here.” “Who by?” “The car park steward!” “Oh ok. Well the directors will have nowhere to park.” However, after a further exchange of pleasantries the gentleman wheeled around and went back into the building.

And so we discuss Pete's pre-match superstition rituals and amble across to the ticket office to get the appropriate passes which were marked turnstile 7/8.

Just at that moment a hoard of 6 or 7 Bury fans could be seen walking in an intimidating group around the side of the ground. Undeterred and in the interests of journalism we decided to approach them, admittedly with caution, and introduce ourselves. I have always wondered just what it is that motivates this type of person to drive all the way to Mansfield on a Tuesday night.

“Good evening Mr.Chairman. Are you off to the pub?” says the sailor!!

It turns out that the press box turnstile was right next to where we had parked the car and having returned we went through the entrance to be met by a receptionist. Nothing strange in that except that behind the desk her executive chair had no wheels on it and was supported by bricks!!! Ok, I know I should have asked the obvious and I promise that I will do so in the future but I just smiled and walked up the stairs to be met by another steward. “Can you tell us where the press box is please?” “The press box?” “Yes, the press box” “Erm well it's….it's. Come here I'll show you.”

We were guided through a doorway and got our first look at the superb Field Mill pitch. “You see that stand over the other side?” “Yes.” “Well that where the press box is.” “But then why do the tickets say to come through this turnstile? And isn't that just yards from the ticket office?” More polite smiles all around, this time coupled with slow head shakes, and we walked around the edge of the pitch, through the stewards who were having their pre-match briefing, and into the press box in the small stand behind the dugouts.

All that had transpired so far did not inspire me greatly but that just shows how wrong you can be. The press box at Mansfield is a rickety affair, as most of them are, but the big difference here was that it was superbly organised and I am looking forward to reciprocating the hospitality shown to us when the Stags come to Gigg later in the season.

That doesn't mean that everything went well. I still managed to find another way to not get an internet connection as I had plugged the lead into the network socket as opposed to the phone socket of the laptop!! Surely that must be a full set of mistakes now. Are there any more? No doubt you will get to know as the season progresses.

Another cause for concern was that the tip up chairs had no backs on them and I knew that at some stage of the evening I would forget and end up in a heap in the back of the stand. It was that kind of night.

What a dazzling first half performance by Mansfield that was. Fast accurate passing, great movement off the ball, good team play, well organised and all aware of their roles within the formation. And amazingly they were a goal behind!! How on earth did that happen? The Gods of football are a cruel lot sometimes but on this occasion justice was seen to be done and the half time whistle saw the Stags leave the pitch to a richly deserved standing ovation as the 3-1 score line flattered the Shakers.

What a mauling we endured in that first 45 minutes. The midfield was cut through with ease, the full backs tortured throughout, Preece totally isolated up front, and as for poor Glyn Garner. He started the game with a wonder save, which must be right up there near the top of the league of amazing saves he has already made this season, and he then conceded three without putting a foot wrong.

Even the coffee and hob nobs couldn't heal the wounds or lighten the feelings of doom, gloom, and pessimism about the coming 45 minutes of football.

Yet again, how wrong can you be? Super Gaz Seddon is unleashed on The Stags and suddenly there is a vigour about the Shakers that was desperately missing before. The Town players were harried and hassled and given no time to settle on the ball. The pretty patterns they was painting before turned from Gainsborough to Picasso as Bury tore into them. O'Shaughnessy and Connell closed the spaces down and Singh, Thornley and Seddon ran straight at the heart of the Mansfield defence at every opportunity. I did wonder whether it was something that had been put in the biscuits but no, a wonderful transformation had occurred before our very eyes.

The hesitant, forlorn Shakers were now decisive and incisive and it was “game on”.

Seddon's wonder strike raised hopes all around. If you haven't yet subscribed to Shakers World then get yer money out because the fee will be worth it just to keep watching this 30 yard pile driver nestle into the bottom corner of Pilkington's net.

As if that wasn't enough then The Colonel followed suit, same distance, same corner, and same result. Two fabulous strikes. Unfortunately we had allowed Mansfield to score in between but at least the pride and passion was back in the team.

What a time to make your debut as a defender. The full backs had been twisted, turned, and tortured all night and on some instances had to contend with three Mansfield players running at them just waiting for the defender to commit to the challenge before rolling the ball past him to one of their fast breaking colleagues. Step forward Tom Kennedy your destiny waits. He did ok and will have many less frantic games in which to play in before his long career is over.

After the game and with most of the stadium in darkness I waited as the manager's interviews were done. Have you any idea how quiet a football stadium can be once the hustle and bustle of the match is over. The echoing shouts and tyre screeches were all that could be heard! Apparently there is a retail park at the back of the ground and the youngsters in the area race their cars across it at night. It is funny how that noise faded just after the wail of a police siren interrupted the silence.

The website stuff went ok but I still have difficulty with watching the game instead of recording the details. For Mansfield's 5th I was so desperate for Bury to clear the ball, and break away to score the equaliser, that I just gazed transfixed, and probably with my jaw hanging open, as the shots rained in on the Bury goal until ultimately Glyn was beaten and the game was lost.

I am also having trouble with my tenses. Maybe I am just too tense(groan) but it seems to stem from writing an intro before the game and then typing the report as the game is in progress. It is something that I need to improve and will no doubt come with practice. Or maybe I am just confused about how the past got me to my present present.

I don't know if it was the Field Mill floodlights or where we were positioned but I found it difficult to see over to the other side of the pitch. What a relief when I found out later that our photographer was also having difficulties with the light (or lack of it) and he was worried about the standard of his match pictures. No need to worry Martin, they'll do for me, and I now know that I do not need to make an appointment at Specsavers just yet.

And so we depart these shores for Boston at the weekend. I have no idea what time we will be setting off, as it is at least a five-hour flight. Isn't it? (Look I know that is a corny finish but I have not been to Boston before. Ok?)

Odds on a mention of a tea party in the match preview?


Latest | September 2003