REPORT FROM SSA AGM & EVENING WITH BILLY McEWAN
30 Nov 2008
Report and photos from SSA website here
Stags boss McEwan again urges fans to back, not boo, players
By Tim Morriss, CHAD.co.uk
MANSFIELD Town manager Billy McEwan came out fighting on Thursday (30 Oct 2008) night when he met some of his recent critics.
full story here
The Stags boss had rounded on supporters who booed his side off the pitch after the recent home BSP defeat to Wrexham - and then again on Tuesday at half-time of their FA Cup replay with York City.
And he repeated his strong message to members of fans group the Stags Supporters Association (SSA) at its annual meeting and question and answer session with the boss, his assistant Neil Richardson and striker Nathan Arnold.
McEwan, when asked about his comments criticising fans for booing at the last two home matches, denied it had been a PR disaster and told fans in the X Bar: "I've got to stand up for the players, we owe them for coming here. They have been here for less than four months and where would we be without them.
"You had no team and nearly no club four months ago. You have got to understand that; let's get real here.
"You can't expect players to gel in such a short time. They are all new and it will take time. You need to be patient.
"We need our fans behind us all the time. If you boo, do you think that will make them (the players) any better?
"All I am doing is relaying the feeling from the dressing room. We have got to stick by the players all the time. If you come (to matches) support the team.
"We are not forcing anyone to come to watch us, but you are supporters and that means supporting through thick and thin.
"I am going to stand up for my players and protect them. All I do is tell the truth and sometimes it upsets people.
"It hurts when people shout as I want the players to be the best. I am not saying don't moan; but I don't like it and that is not the answer.
"We need to be a team on the pitch and off the pitch - TEAM . . . Together Everyone Achieves More."
McEwan, who won loud applause from most fans during the evening, added on the controversial booing topic: "I appreciate it is frustration from the fans, but you get more out of players by encouraging them.
"I am full of emotion after a game (when he was interviewed and made his comments criticising the negative reaction from fans recently) and sometimes you say something you regret.
"But I am as frustrated as the fans. If I upset some people then I apologise, but I am trying to protect the new players.
"Some players are fragile and could go under at the boos and negativity, some take it on the chin and bounce back such as Gary Silk for example.
"You are entitled to your opinions, but rather than destroy them (the players) why not encourage them?
"I can see the fans' point of view, travelling a long way and not seeing many shots. But do you think I like it? And don't forget we are not playing against mugs. The Conference is not easy, it is just as good as Division II if not better.
"We are as frustrated on the touchline as much as you, but we try to encourage players - that's why we need your support.
"The players have done well in general in a short space of time. Boo me, but don't boo them. They need respect and you have got to be patient. They have all come into this club to try to help it and we will not be able to grow this club if you are going to boo.
"The bottom line is you have got to bite the bullet, stick together and muck in. We are a family club."
Fans at Field Mill, frustrated by four successive League defeats and a lack of goalmouth action, had voiced their displeasure at the end of the 2-1 home defeat to Wrexham earlier this month.
They repeated their boos halfway through Tuesday's cup replay after another 45 minutes of little excitement - following a start to the season which saw the goals fly in at the Mill and the Stags briefly flirt with the top of the BSP table.
I thought Stags might have gone under, reveals boss McEwan
By Tim Morriss
STAGS boss Billy McEwan, a star in a promotion winning Mansfield Town team of the 1970s, has spoken of his fears for the club before the summer takeover - and his fondness for Field Mill.
McEwan was speaking on Thursday at a question and answer session with fans, organised by the Stags Supporters Association (SSA) .
full story here
He said: "I am just grateful that there is still a football club here. I was one of those who thought the club was struggling and may go under.
"The club was a s**t hole when I came back, the toilets I went into to get changed were a disgrace. When I left the club as a player it was a great little club, but until the summer it was going nowhere, there had been no care. Now the new guys have come in and with the help of the fans have smartened the place.
"I know we have a special club here. You fans will always be here and I appreciate that . . . you have come out tonight and shown your true colours and I am grateful for that."
McEwan took over on the day that local businessmen Andy Perry, Andy Saunders and Steve Middleton bought the club from controversial owner Keith Haslam - a deal expected to be completed in the next few days.
He said: "I appreciate I am very, very fortunate to manage the club where I played at. The best time of my playing career was here, the Mansfield team I played in was the best of my career, and I want to make this the best time of my managerial career.
"I didn't need to come back - I had offers elsewhere and abroad - but this was the job I wanted.
"Now I want my team to be the best. My team should portray me . . . I was not the best player in the world, but I was a battler, a fighter and a grafter. Have you seen me on the touchline? My wife says I will have a heart attack there and she is probably right, but what a way to go!
"If you are not back in the League in five years' time, then I will not be here But there is no divine right to go up, everyone has to roll up their sleeves and work hard. It is not going to be easy, but we will do it as quickly as we can.
"The SSA do a fantastic job raising money to put into the football club. I appreciate that . . . that's what you call proper fans and i want to build a proper club for them."
Joint owner Steve Middleton, a long-time Stags fan, added: "At leats we have got a team. This year is all about consolidation. We have got a three- and five-year plan to drive this club forward. Yes we had a bit of a hiccup recently, but with the backing of you all who knows? Just remember we have got a football team."
Assistant manager Neil Richardson - back in a coaching role at Field Mill for a second time - said: "It is fantastic coming back; I thought I was hard done by with what happened in the past. We are working our socks off to try to get back to where we should be, where everyone wants to be. Stick with us. It is not going to be straight forward, but we know where we want to go."
Striker Nathan Arnold, when asked which position he likes to play best in, said: "Where I am now (as a striker in a 4-3-3), it gives me licence to get forward and I don't mind doing the defensive role too." He added: "I have started every game this season so I am pleased with that; last season it was just dribs and drabs. I am enjoying it and all the lads will roll their sleeves up and show character."
McEwan, talking about new loan signing midfielder Adnan Ahmed, said: "He will give us a little bit more variety . . . he is creative, yeah."
And on keeper Paddy Gamble, on loan from Nottingham Forest he added: "He trains with Forest two days a week - Mondays and Wednesdays - that is part of the agreement." McEwan also said that the Stags would try to extend his loan until the end of the season.
McEwan - who said there was still some money left to spend in the January transfer window - said there had been no contact with former striker Richie Barker, despite rumours on fans' websites, adding: "He is at Rotherham at the moment. And anyway we are trying to bring players in on a realistic budget."
Talking about injured keeper Jason White, the manager said: "He was unlucky with the injury, it was a bad one . . . but he's had the operation, he's mending and hopefully it will not be too long until he is back in the training ground."
And on the big FA Cup tie with Chesterfield next week, McEwan said: "The players will be aware of how important this game is to the fans."
When asked about the chances of him blooding some of the young players in the first team, the manager said: "The Conference is a tough league, a man's league. We have some good young players here but they are not ready to handle this yet."
McEwan, quizzed about where he thought the team would finish this season, went on: "I don't know. I can't tell as we have not had these players for a full season. But when I took the job on I thought I would be happy with fifth bottom and that is not being negative, because I want to get back into the Football League.
"But it was all about survival. Now in my mind I am trying to get into the play-offs. We will just try to finish as high as we can."
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