STAGS FAN ON BBC NON LEAGUE SHOW
Fan of the week: Richard Harris
25 AUG 2008
audio from BBC Non League Show here
It's been a bit of an odd summer for our fan of the week, his club get relegated, but there's a step-forward off the field, read about Richard Harris, a true Stag
By Stuart Croll (NonLeagueToday)
When a team drops down into NonLeague after 77 years in the Football League you would think the fans would be distraught.
However after a summer where Mansfield Town's ownership changed hands most Stags fans feel they have something to celebrate and are relishing the new season. That is certainly the feelings of lifelong fan Richard Harris.
Richard admits he was depressed when Mansfield lost their league status in April but as one of the members of Stags Fans For Change (SSFC) he was celebrating this summer when they achieved their long term goal.
The SFFC was an independent protest group of Mansfield Town supporters who had been actively seeking the removal of Keith Haslam as the club's owner. They achieved their goal when a group of Nottinghamshire businessmen bought control of the club.
Richard now feels his beloved club are on the up.
He said: "All the work, protests, fund raising and campaigns over the months have proven worthwhile. It is difficult to explain our elation that Haslam is no longer owner."
For the past 18 months Richard and his fellow fans have lobbied politicians, organised petitions and boycotted games to achieve their aim of removing Mr Haslam.
The Stags Fans For Change joined forces with other Mansfield Supporters Organisations to form Stags United to raise funds for the club.
Richard tells of an entertaining race night recently where they had betting forms for horse racing but when they put the DVD in the system they had dog races to watch.
Stags United continue to raise money for the club and have a Sportsman's dinner on September 24th with footballing legend and former Mansfield player Duncan McKenzie as guest speaker.
Mansfield Town logo
But with Keith Haslam no longer the owner Richard explains that Stags Fans For Change had to consider its position. It will continue to exist, albeit with a different remit.
He said: "We do not intend to remain as a protest group, but will fullfil the role of "the critical friend", supportive but prepared to voice our opinions and concerns when necessary.
"I don't think the new board care for the title but I hope they realise we only care for the club." Richard can trace his family's love of Mansfield Town back decades and it was his father who took him to first game in 1976 when he was five.
And the late 70s and early 80s coincided with a very successful period on the pitch for the Stags. As Richard explains: "When you are young and the team is doing well you expect that to continue forever, that's why it is so hard to believe we are now out of the football league."
But Richard is now looking forward to his first season of support the Stags in NonLeague football. The pharmacist said: "I'm looking forward to going to new grounds and places although the fixture list hasn't been great to us in that all tempting weekend breaks away to places such as Weymouth are during the winter months."
As Mansfield have a completely new squad it is difficult for Richard to name a favourite current player although Jason Lee has impressed him so far. It is easy however for Richard to name his favourite ever Stags player and that is Keith Cassells.
Latest | August 2008