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Archived News from November 2002

8th November 2002 13:01

Evening Post, 08 November 2002

Billy Dearden was today racing to add TWO players to his squad before tomorrow's local derby with Mansfield Town.

The Notts County manager hopes to secure highly-rated central defender John Ashton on loan from Leicester City today.

The move follows the loan-signing of Duncan Jupp from Wimbledon.

Twenty-year-old Ashton played seven Premiership games for the Foxes last season and was in the squad for this week's Worthington Cup defeat at Old Trafford.

Dearden sees Ashton as the ideal solution to the Magpies' crisis in central defence, as seven central defenders could be missing at Meadow Lane tomorrow.

Former Fulham man Jupp, 27, is a right-back who can also operate in the centre.

Both players' signatures were expected to be secured this afternoon, once the club had gained permission from the PFA to bring in new faces.

With the club still owing bonuses to players from last season, it must ask the players' union to lift a transfer embargo.

Dearden said: "I knew I had to act quickly at the start of the week when we picked up the extra injuries on top of the suspensions.

"We still have to get the green light from the PFA and the Football League, but we will not be adding much to our wage bill, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that it won't be a problem."

Ashton is almost certain to be drafted straight into the side tomorrow.

"He can play a bit as well as perform defensively and is highly-rated at Leicester, so hopefully he can do a job for us too."

Meanwhile, both Simon Ramsden and Danny Stone have returned to training and will be in the squad.

There are likely to be three changes to the back four in the game abandoned at Bristol City last Saturday. Dearden's other decision will be whether to stick with Marcel Cas on the right of midfield, or revert to a 4-3-3 and restore last season's top scorer, Danny Allsopp.

Mansfield boss Stuart Watkiss is likely to give a league debut to new defender Matthew Gadsby, whose transfer from Walsall was due to be completed this afternoon.

On-loan Nottingham Forest defender Tony Vaughan could figure after he managed to get through training yesterday despite injuring his back last Friday against Colchester.

Scott Sellars is out with twisted ankle ligaments but striker Colin Larkin (hamstring) is likely to return after three games out to lead the Stags up front.

Captain Neil Moore is suspended.

NOTTS (from): Garden, Stone, Nicholson, Ramsden, Ashton, Cas, Bolland, Brough, Whitley, Stallard, Heffernan, Mildenhall, Allsopp, Jupp, Riley, Caskey, Liburd.

MANSFIELD TOWN (probable): Pilkington, Gadsby, Lever, Vaughan, MacKenzie, Williamson, Disley, Lawrence, Corden, Little, Christie. Subs: White, Larkin, Clarke, Holyoak, Bacon.

Evening Post, 08 November 2002

Tomorrow sees Billy Dearden lock horns with his former assistant manager Stuart Watkiss for the first time since he left Mansfield to join Notts County. Ian Wilkerson and Paul Taylor took them out to lunch and listened as they chatted over a pie and a pint at the Seven Mile Inn, a pub midway between Nottingham and Mansfield, about the friendship off the park and their rivalry on it...

Ian Wilkerson: How are things going for you both in preparing for the big game?

Billy Dearden: Things have gone all right for us apart from not having enough players available. We have got suspensions and injuries but the lads who are in have just got to do it. Stuart would probably say the same thing.

Stuart Watkiss: If you put the two clubs together, you would probably get one decent squad. Billy's got injuries and suspensions and he has got his hands tied. We've got the injury list with which, although we keep saying it, there does appear to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Some have played a game back and are coming back to fitness.

BD: There will be a lot of passion from the players and the supporters but I don't think there will be any trouble.

IW: In many respects last January seems like about three weeks ago and then sometimes it seems like years. Do you two look back on the changes and think it is a long time?

BD: January was a long time ago in football. A week is a long time ago in football. I didn't realise the position the club was in financially because I wasn't told that. I was told there was money available and after two weeks I was told that there wasn't. And then we had an embargo on and I thought 'there's something wrong here.' Having said that, since everything has come out, the players have knuckled down and I cannot fault the lads, apart from one game three or four weeks ago at Huddersfield. It's difficult because you cannot bring fresh faces in to liven things up a bit. I think a manager's job is to bring players in, let players out and that gives you a bit of a buzz.

Paul Taylor: It just keeps people fresh, like when Jeff Whitley came in.

BD: That's right. Everyone respected Jeff because I had him for two months at the end of last season and I have always gone on record to say that if Jeff hadn't have come here, Notts County probably wouldn't have been in the league they are now.

IW: It's been a bit of a change the last ten months for you too, Stuart?

SW: At times it does seem like ten minutes ago but sometimes it feels a long time ago. I remember the day that Billy first came to the club when I was youth-team manager. I remember him walking into the dressing room the first time and when he spoke it echoed because there were no players in there. There wasn't a fight to get a peg because there were a lot more pegs than players.

BD: I think we were probably the only club in the Football League with more staff than players in the football club.

SW: We played one of the pre-season games at Lilleshall against Walsall. We lost two or three nil but, to be fair, we got absolutely murdered. I was standing on the touchline, looking at Billy and thinking 'all the best, mate.' To bring the team on from that to when he left when they were second or third in the division, is testament to Billy and the players he got in. Everyone was very sad to see him go. Equally it did open the door for me to take on my first managerial post and when you are offered a job like that, you have got to grasp it with both hands and do your best.

PT: You two are obviously still close and speak to each other on a regular basis but what has it been like this week? Have you been quite coy with each other?

BD: This is the first time we have spoken this week and probably wouldn't have if you two hadn't brought us together. It's always difficult building up to a game against a club you have left that Stuart is in charge of. We speak twice a week on a regular basis and that's the way it has been since I left. He will ask me about different people in the game, not just because it's me but because I have been about a few more years than he has.

SW: Just a couple.

BD: You bounce off each other. I'll ask his advice and he will ask mine on different things and different aspects of the game. But, all in all, it is about who prepares themselves right for the game.

SW: It is like any team you play against in this division and tomorrow will be no exception and the same applies to Billy at Notts County, if you are not quite right in your preparation or you start the game not quite right, then you will be beaten. Everyone is capable of beating everyone. Even if you are down the bottom playing one of the top teams and they are not quite right, they will come unstuck.

IW: Billy, are you anxious not to be the centre of attention tomorrow?

BD: I'm not really one for being the centre of attention. I just keep a low profile. I have calmed down quite a lot and I think it comes down to age. I think I will get a bit of stick because I left Mansfield but I think a percentage of Mansfield Town supporters understand the reasons why I left.

SW: He should get a good reception.

BD: It doesn't bother me whether I get a good reception or not because I will treat it from a professional point of view and I will do all I can, like Stuart will do all he can, to prepare the team to get three points.

SW: I might get more stick from the Mansfield fans than him.

Evening Post, 08 November 2002

The local derby against Notts County is looked on by many a Stags supporter as the lesser of the two evils.

Games against Chesterfield usually prompt more of a passionate response.

This doesn't mean that it doesn't matter whether the Stags win or lose.

Of course it does, for no matter what the good people of the fair city of Nottingham think, Mansfield always has and always will be a part of your county of Nottinghamshire.

Ask many a Stags supporter about being one of only three professional sides from Nottinghamshire and you will no doubt hear a constant moan about how his club is looked on as very much third choice by the Notts public.

The mentality of hearing for years, Forest, County and the Stags has had a deep-rooted effect on all of us from North Notts.

We know that readership, listener-ship and such dictates that kind of route, but it still hurts.

We are very much the poor boys of the county.

I suppose the best response would be for our team to come out on top every now and then. You know, sort of show folks that the Stags are a side to be reckoned with.

Well, the trouble is, as the Notts County fans can remind us all, it seems years and years since the Stags actually achieved anything against the black and white colours of the city of Nottingham.

And yes it does hurt.

The Stags have beaten Forest more times in recent years than Notts. How strange is that?

So are the Stags due a victory in the battle of Nottinghamshire's two other sides?

I think they are, but as with any woman, the good lady, which is football, can often surprise you, make you smile and make you cry.

Yes the Stags are due something and looking at both clubs' form, it could very well be the year of the Stag in what is definitely a relegation battle.

Both clubs have been hit by injuries and a lack of the green stuff needed to survive so well in this current day of football.

I am talking of course of money.

While having that deep-rooted dislike of the Magpies, I am a football supporter and to see such a club suffer is painful and I do wish that as a club, they manage to turn things around and once more begin to enjoy a touch of success.

After tomorrow of course.

Evening Post, 08 November 2002

It was September 27 1958, when Mansfield Town claimed their last victory at Meadow Lane.

On that day, Notts County were managed by club stalwart Jack Wheeler.

On Saturday, more than 44-years later, Wheeler, now 82, pictured left, will take his usual seat in the Derek Pavis Stand.

And, although he admits the memories of that day are now vague, he believes - or at least hopes - that Mansfield are unlikely to force a repeat performance.

Though his memory may have suffered the addles of time, Wheeler is still as sharp as a tack.

And he is bristling at the prospect of the local derby, which he hopes will bring a decent crowd to Meadow Lane.

For the record, when Stags claimed a 4-3 success 44 years ago, 16,510 fans packed into Meadow Lane.

For Wheeler, a crowd half that size would be a result.

"There has always been a fierce rivalry between the sides, always," he said.

"It is not as big as some of the local derbies, but Notts and Mansfield have often been fighting it out to see who is the top side locally in the lower divisions.

"There have always been big crowds and, above all else, they are always entertaining games.

"I don't remember specific details about the game, but it was typical of the time.

"Hopefully we will be in for a similar game this time, but hopefully with a different result.

"I haven't missed a Notts home game yet this season and the one thing they do not lack is quality.

"Obviously something is missing, but hopefully that will come together in the near future.

"A win against Mansfield would go a long way, certainly it could help Notts pull away from the relegation zone a little."

Wheeler believes the current team are underachieving, in terms of the talent they have at Meadow Lane.

But, in Billy Dearden, he believes they have just the man to instigate a change of fortunes.

"Billy Dearden is certainly the right man for the job," he said.

"He is such an honest, down to earth, straight forward man.

"He is very open with his opinions and he sees football as a simple game."

"Football is a simple game after all, I have been involved with it since 1938 and it hasn't changed, only the people have.

"These people who talk about complex strategies and tactics annoy me.

"They have set plays from throw ins and all sorts, that is not for me.

Evening Post, 08 November 2002

Defender Kevin Nicholson revealed that Notts have had another gentle week on the training pitch - as they try to avoid picking up any fresh injuries.

The Magpies have five defenders fighting to be fit for tomorrow's crunch local derby with Mansfield Town, as well as having Ian Richardson and Nicky Fenton suspended.

But, while Nicholson says manager Billy Dearden has not been taking any risks, he also hinted that the move may pay off.

"I am sure a couple of the injured lads will be fit," he said.

"There were only 12 of us in training on Wednesday and we were taking things easy, doing a lot of running and fitness work.

"Obviously when there are only that many of you, it is hard to do much in terms of practice matches anyway.

"But we have been fairly careful not to do too much that could see us pick up further injuries.

"And I know a couple of the lads are hopeful of being fit.

"We could end up with a very young back four, but I don't think it will be too makeshift.

"I don't think we will end up with anyone playing out of position."

At the moment, the one certainty is that Nicholson will be at left-back.

Who plays alongside him depends on the fitness of Danny Stone, Simon Ramsden, Craig Ireland, Richard Holmes and Ian Baraclough.

Earlier in the week, it appeared that Stone, Ramsden and Ireland were making most progress.

Evening Post, 08 November 2002

Someone asked me the other day if I was looking forward to the crunch local derby tomorrow.

When I realised he was talking about Mansfield I quickly put him straight.

As a Notts fan there is only one local derby as far as I am concerned.

I hope that does not sound too patronising, but a game against Mansfield is just like any other.

Well almost. The reason for doubt stems from recent events sparked by Billy Dearden making the short trip down the A60 to take over the reigns at Meadow Lane.

As we all know things did not go too well in the first few months. And boy how the Stags fans loved it.

I recall only too vividly numerous callers to local radio phone-ins. They only had one thing on their minds. They wanted to gloat.

I suppose you can forgive them for such a response. After all we have tended to cherry pick their better players over the years.

But you just let them get on with it. Every dog has their day.

But, having seen Mansfield play on a few occassions (including our 4-3 victory in the Worthington Cup) I was convinced back then that the Stags were in a false position.

They were a poor side then, and they certainly are not much better this year.

For this reason I fully expect Notts to win tomorrow.

While Stuart Watkiss" side has started to pick up the odd result, I believe we have enough nouse to see them off.

My only fear is how the team will respond to the loss of both centre halves.

This could leave a big hole at the back and I worry that one of the likely replacements, Craig Ireland, will struggle given his lack of pace and match fitness.

Hopefully the fixture will see the return of Darren Caskey to the team as the forwards have been starved of real quality ball in the last few games.

Whatever happens I am sure the game will be very open and we can look forward to lots of goals.

And I am sure the Stags fans will be able to enjoy a good view from behind the goal.

Which is more than can be said for my visit to Field Mill in 1998.

I was one of several hundreds fans locked out of the game that day.

Still it was my own fault. I only arrived 20 minutes before kick off.

Fortunately I managed to scale one of the perimeter walls and watch the game perched perilously close to some barbed wire!

The sight of half empty terraces did nothing to quash my anger.

Still we won easily that day and more of the same will do tomorrow.

Come to think of it, the game is not like any other. While they might be down on their luck, so are we, and they took great pleasure in our troubles.

It's time to return the favour! Notts County 3 Mansfield 1.


Latest | November 2002