650 TICKETS FOR CUP TIE/ RAILWAY CHAIRMAN
Chairman on track to be Railway's secret FA Cup weapon
CHAD.co.uk, By Tim Morriss
FA Cup minnows Harrogate Railway - Mansfield Town's unlikely opponents in the Second Round - are going loco in the famous competition this season.
The Unibond Division I North side have punched above their weight in four of the six rounds of the competition they have played in this season so far - and they have a secret weapon.
For the man leading them on the right track - and into the Second Round proper for the second time in five years - seems to be millionaire chairman Rob Northfield.
Before each round of the competition - five of Railway's six wins have come at their small, sloped Station View ground in Starbeck - he has gone into the dressing room to inspire the players.
And it has worked . . . so the Stags had better beware on 2nd December when they travel to Station View for the Second Round tie to be screened live on BBC's Match Of The Day.
Northfield, who moved to Wetherby from London and set up a training company 2inspire, was first invited to give a pre-match message by manager Vince Brockie ahead of their first FA Cup match this season, against Esh Winning.
Since then he has also given a 'Churchillian' speech to the players before their wins over Chester le Street, Leigh RMI, Matlock Town, neighbours Harrogate Town and, on Saturday, Droylsden
Multi-millionaire Northfield, who took over at Station View last April and is a well known and successful inspirational speaker, said: "Before our first cup game, I asked if he (the manager) minded if I went in the dressing room to wish the lads luck. He had no problem with that, so I went in and wished everyone luck before giving them a motivational message.
"Motivational speaking is exactly what Bill Shankly did. We won that day and on the morning of or day before all our cup games since then, Vince (Brockie) has phoned and asked me to go in the dressing room.
"The feedback from the players has been great and, after Saturday's win, Ryan Haigh came off the pitch, lifted me up and said 'you are right, boss, you have to believe'. I am already working on what to say before we play Mansfield."
Northfield told Chad on Wednesday: "My talks seem to be enjoyed and have made a difference.
"If I am invited again, I will, of course, have something to say. The manager and I have a very good relationship and I am sure he would probably invite me into the dressing room again.
"Do I know what I am going to say? Absolutely! Will I tell you what it is? No!" he joked.
"We have got a very young team that run for fun and it surprises a lot of teams," added Northfield.
"It's the way I operate as a man, I like everything to be fun, and it's the way this team plays. We have fun in every game, whether it be the FA Cup or in the League.
"Having fun doesn't mean we don't take it seriously. Every round so far we have worked harder and harder. You have to work hard because a team at our level doesn't get into the second round of the FA Cup through luck.
"I have two values in life. One is to try to see the other person's point of view and the other is to have fun - I also don't believe in turning good news into bad news.
"For instance, after we beat Harrogate (in the Fourth Qualifying Round) the team came off elated. Then we were drawn against Droylesden and everyone was disappointed. It was madness. It was still every bit as much good news. We were in the First Round of the FA Cup!
"My job is to tell everyone this is good news."
The chairman added that he thought Mansfield would not relish the trip to Harrogate and that his minnows had a 50-50 chance of progressing.
Five years ago Railway also reached the FA Cup Second Round, another game chosen for live transmission by the BBC, and were only beaten narrowly 3-1 by Bristol City.
The profits from that cup run kept the club going for a couple of years, but the chairman insists there is a difference this time.
He added: "It is bigger this time. Last time the club was in debt, but this time we do not need the money to pay debts.
"The experience at the club from last time and my own business experience means we will use the money (£75,000 from the FA and BBC for the TV appearance plus gate receipts) wisely.
"We own 10 acres of our own land and we have put in a planning application to upgrade to Conference level facilities - so that's our aim."
On the club again being thrown into the national TV spotlight, he added: "It is a dream for everyone at the club.
"There is a lot of hard work to do, but knowing the game will be on television gives everyone a huge lift.
"We are not going to go into the tie saying 'we will win'. But we will be thinking that we can win."
Just 650 FA Cup tickets for Stags
CHAD.co.uk, By Tim Morriss
MANSFIELD Town fans will have to scramble to get tickets for the eagerly awaited FA Cup tie at non league Harrogate Railway.
For the Stags have been allocated just 650 tickets for the Second Round tie at the Unibond Division One North's tiny Station View ground.
And there is no prospect of any more being made available when final ticketing details for the all-ticket tie are finalised on Friday.
The match, to be screened live on BBC TV's Match Of The Day on Sunday 2nd December, kick-off 1.10pm, has caught the imagination of Mansfield's fans as they face the lowest ranked club left in the famous competition.
Safety officials will agree a capacity figure for the match on Friday after several meetings since the draw was made last Sunday. Station View has a 3,500 capacity, but it is likely that the figure will be lowered for the cup tie - perhaps to around 2,000.
Railway are looking into putting up temporary stands for the match - as they did five years ago when their Second Round tie with Bristol City was also screened live on TV - but have already decided that the Stags will be given just 650 tickets for the tie.
Chairman Rob Northfield told Chad on Wednesday: "We have segregated part of the ground for the 650 Mansfield fans. It would be difficult to do anything else so, no, I can not see there being anymore tickets for Mansfield."
Railway's First Round win over Droylesden attracted just 854 fans, but the chairman added: "We would have hoped for 1,000 for that match, but it was never going to be a big crowd.
"But people have been lifted by that result. People who experienced it want more. There is a lot of interest in the Mansfield game.
"Myself and officials at the club have had requests for tickets from all over.
"It will definitely be a sell-out. We could sell the tickets five times over."
He has also said: "We plan to investigate what we can do to potentially increase capacity. Erecting temporary stands is a possibility and we will spend the time between now and Friday looking into that. It could make the difference between 1,800 being able to attend and 2,800."
The 650 Mansfield tickets - a price has yet to be agreed - will be available to season ticket holders initially. If any remain unsold, these will be available to Stags Supporters Association members.
In the unlikely event that tickets are still left unsold, these will then go on general sale.
Details of when the tickets will go on sale at Field Mill have yet to be announced.
The tickets, will as usual, be sold from the football club and not be distributed through any supporters club as has been suggested by Harrogate Railway.
Latest | November 2007