Stags boss Cox: Ground deal 'like Berlin Wall coming down'
Nottingham Post, Friday, March 02, 2012
IT is the announcement Mansfield Town fans have been waiting to hear for years; a moment to truly savour and one many feared may never come.
But now it is official: Field Mill is back in the hands of the club and former owner and landlord Keith Haslam's involvement is effectively no more.
After more than 17 months of wrangling, chairman John Radford has finally got his wish in securing the Stags' home since the 1919-20 season.
A 17-year lease has been negotiated to enable Mansfield to meet a Football Conference deadline of 5pm yesterday, allowing the club to compete in this season's Blue Square Premier play-offs, providing they finish in the top five.
The handover of the freehold will then go through today.
Along the way there has been blood, sweat and tears; bluff and counter-bluff.
Radford instigated court action, while Haslam evicted the club from the ground, albeit temporarily.
But now, at last, all that is a thing of the past after a substantially improved seven-figure offer from Radford to buy the stadium complex was accepted by Haslam.
Any other week, the first return of former boss David Holdsworth with another club – Lincoln City – for the first time since his departure in November 2010 would be the subject on the lips of every Stags fan.
But not this week. Not once the news that could see the Stags enter a whole new era filtered through yesterday tea-time.
The importance of this breakthrough has certainly not been lost on Mansfield manager Paul Cox, who, like everyone else, has seen the soap opera slowly unfold.
He is delighted that a more secure future is on the horizon – one which means the team's on-field efforts so far this season have not been in vain.
But he is also hopeful that Radford, the man who employed him last May, gets the kudos he feels he merits for 'putting his money where some would not put their mouths'.
"I think this could be a massive moment in the club's history, one of the biggest," said Cox.
"The chairman deserves immense credit and praise for what he has done and it sums up the kind of man he is.
"It shows just how committed he is to the club and how much he wants to make it a success. He has had to be very patient.
"When you look at the mindset that the supporters have had in the past few years, this is a watershed moment.
"It is almost like the Berlin Wall coming down for the Stags fans.
"There has been a whole anxiety around the club and its future that has now been lifted.
"They will understand now that John is the real McCoy. We can start planning ahead because this is a real landmark."
Cox said just before he was appointed to lead the Stags that he felt the club was capable of getting into League One in the long-term.
He still holds the view that the club should have no limits on its ambitions, especially now. Cox said: "I think this is a massive incentive for everyone connected to the club.
"As soon as I knew we'd got the ground I thought 'the hard work starts here' and I'm sure the chairman thinks the same way.
"But we now have the chance to put a whole infrastructure in place and build for a successful future.
"John has said all the way through to me that he would get it sorted and he has been true to his word."
Cox recalls the moment vividly when Radford pulled him aside at training to tell him a deal was to be agreed.
"When the chairman came to me I knew it was something special because he was like an excited schoolboy!" he said.
"He showed me some paperwork and said: "I'm buying it." I couldn't believe it.
"He really has pulled out all the stops to buy the ground for the club – way beyond the call of duty – when he doesn't owe them anything.
"Everyone can now get behind the club and concentrate on football. The uncertainty and stigmas have gone.
"Supporters may have had their doubts this would happen before, but know they can have no doubts now."
Cox feels the news will help the morale at the club as they go into an important last 13 games of the season.
He said: "I think this will be a huge psychological boost. Standing in front of the players and saying we have the ground was a fantastic moment.
"But the only way we can now take advantage is by getting the results between now and the end of the season.
"The chairman has done his bit and now it's up to us to do ours."
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox urges players not to get swept away in the emotion
chad.co.uk, Friday 2 March 2012
Stags boss Paul Cox says his Mansfield Town side must concentrate on the task ahead and forget any of the off-field celebrations following Thursday's purchase of Field Mill when they face Lincoln City on Saturday.
Flying Mansfield could find themsleves inside the play-off zone for the first time since 27th September if they see off former boss David Holdsworth's Lincoln City side and other results go their way.
Field Mill is likely to have one of the biggest crowds of the season as expectant fans come out to celebrate the Field Mill stadium purchase against their local rivals.
But boss Paul Cox says it is vital his players do not get swept away in the emotion.
“There is a lot of things going on off the field and I want to make sure my players are concentrating on the football,” he said. “This is a game we want to win and we have to maintain our focus.
“As a team we are improving and getting better as the season has gone on, especially with the ugly side of football.
“We have a lot of young players in the team and they are all still learning their trade at this level. One of two of them have really stepped up a level from young men to good players at this level.
“There is a real togetherness in the team and a real desire amongst everyone to win. We have 13 cup finals coming up and it is going to be a tough game against Lincoln, but we are quite capable of winning this game.
“We came back well against Tamworth last week and we need to go into the game with the same desire as we showed last Saturday. The players are chomping at the bit to get in the team.”
Stags, who have won five of their last seven matches, could be without influential skipper Adam Murray, who is rated 50/50 to make the game after picking up an ankle injury late on in the weekend win against Tamworth.
Said Cox: “We will make the decision as late as we can, but we will not rush Adam back. We have to be clever with how we manage the players at this stage of the season and make sure they are mentally and physically prepared.
“It is better that Adam misses Saturday for us rather than be rushed back and miss the rest of the season.
“Adam has done some running yesterday which is positive news. He has played with niggles before and put his body on the line for Mansfield Town this season. He is an honest player and he will know in his heart of hearts if he is fit to play.
“If Adam misses the game it will be a blow for us because he is an important player, but we have other players who cannot wait to have their chance in the team.
If Paul Cox's men claim maximum points it will be first time they have won five home games in a row since the start of the 2008/08 season under Bill McEwan
Howell: Stags ground news will boost the players
Nottingham Post, Friday, March 02, 2012
ANTHONY Howell believes John Radford's success in acquiring Field Mill will give Mansfield a' huge boost' – both this season and beyond.
The Stags players, as well as fans, had been waiting on tenterhooks to hear if the club's chairman would complete a deal for the ground before yesterday's 5pm Football Conference cut-off point – 24 hours later than the Stags originally believed it to be.
Now that deadline has been met, Mansfield are free to compete in the end-of-season play-offs, should they finish in the top five.
Howell – in contention to start against Lincoln City tomorrow – feels the news gives the squad fresh motivation at just the right time.
"This is a huge boost for us because we know for certain now that we can go up, which was in doubt before," he said.
"It has not been talked about to a big extent, we've tried not to make a big thing of it, but all the lads have certainly been aware of the situation.
"This has come as a relief and now we will be doing our best to go on and clinch a place in the play-offs.
"If it had not happened we would have all been devastated and the lads who were at Eastwood have been there before last season, not being able to compete in the play-offs.
"It was the same for the manager too, so I'm sure it's an even bigger thing for them."
Of course, Mansfield are by no means certain to go up.
But Howell feels the Stags would now be in a good position to challenge in 2012-13 if they do miss out.
He said: "If we had the same kind of team next year with what we've been through, then I think we could win the title.
"It is amazing how the atmosphere has changed so quickly and now everything is looking very positive."
Stags defender Luke O'Neill looking to put on a show against Lincoln City
chad.co.uk, Friday 2 March 2012
STAGS defender Luke O'Neill is confident Mansfield can finish off a memorable week for the club in style by claiming all three points against Lincoln City tomorrow.
Field Mill is likely to packed full of thousands of partying Stags fans celebrating John Radford's purchase of Field Mill stadium from Keith Haslam.
Paul Cox's men go into the fixture in good form having won their last four outings at Field Mill and know victory could push Stags back into the coveted play-off places.
And the raiding right-back knows Stags must now on a show for the fans and continue to build on their growing momentum.
Said O'Neill: “Saturday is a massive game. When we went there, there was a fantastic atmosphere and it will be like that at Field Mill.
“There will lots of fans there and we have to put a show on for them. We are there or there abouts at the moment and we have got to just push on.
“We are more than capable of doing just that and getting into the play-offs.
“The games are coming thick and fast which will keep our fitness levels up, but I like playing Saturdays and Tuesdays. We have a lot of games in March, but it is an exciting time of the season for us all.
“We have got a great togetherness as a team, on and off the pitch and everyone is buzzing about the play-offs.
“The defeat against Newport was just one of those days, we are not going to win every game we play. We have just got to keep doing what we are doing.
“We have to keep our concentration and focus and if we do that we have got a good chance of getting into the play-offs.”
And O'neill, who has become a regular fixture on the Stags rearguard since joining the club last June, says he hopes to extend his one-year contract with Mansfield into next season.
“My agent is currently having talks with Paul Cox to try and sort something out,I would love to stay at the club,”he said.
“I am happy playing week in week out. We have got the ground sorted and we are going for promotion, and that is a good thing to know.”
Mansfield Town striker Matt Green aims to hit 30 goal target
chad.co.uk, Thursday 1 March 2012
Stags striker Matt Green hopes to reach 30 goals this season and fire Mansfield Town back into the Football League in the proccess.
Sharpshooter Green has already hit 22 goals in all competitions this season, the best tally of his career, and needs eight more goals in the remaining 13 games to reach his landmark target.
Green, who hit the winner against Tamworth on Saturday, said: “I am hitting the back of the net on a consistent basis now which is very pleasing. Every goal I score means a lot to me, whether it's the league or a cup competition.
“This is the best part of my career and I am enjoying every minute at Mansfield Town, I couldn't have wished for things to have gone as good since I made the move here, this is a great place to come and play football.
“I just want to keep things going now and keep getting the goals, I have got the target of 30 goals in my head and there is the time to do it, I just need to keep doing the right thing.”
The former Oxford goal-getter also praised his fellow team-mates for the progress Mansfield have made since the start of the season.
Said Green: “We are building momentum at the right time. We did not play our best on Saturday, but we showed good character from behind to get the win and that is a good sign.
“We have progressed well as a side since the start of the season and maybe we would not have fought back like that earlier in the season.
“I think we have got good mental strength at the moment, we have a good togetherness as a team and everything is going to plan at the moment.
“We are just treating Saturday's game like any other match where we aim to get all three points, it should be a great game,”
Green, who has hit four goals in his last two appearances, also praised boss Paul Cox for showing the faith in his abilities.
“At Oxford the manager did not seem to have faith in me, but here things are different,”he said.“Paul Cox has put the faith in me and that is really nice to see. It means a lot to me and the results are there for all to see.”
Marriott expects Holdsworth's Stags return to 'raise the stakes'
Nottingham Post, Friday, March 02, 2012
FORMER manager David Holdsworth's return to Mansfield Town with derby rivals Lincoln tomorrow will 'raise the stakes', says former Imps keeper Alan Marriott.
In terms of league position, the Stags, in seventh, will go in strong favourites as they host their 17th-placed opponents.
Mansfield have also won their last four home games since the turn of the year.
But Marriott knows the form book goes out the window for games such as this.
He believes not only will the derby atmosphere act as a leveller but so too will the fact Holdsworth wants to prove a point against his former employers.
"Knowing David's persona, he will want to come back and win the game – he wants to win every game," said Marriott, who was one of the former Sheffield United player's first signings for the Stags.
"He will be determined to do well. It's always a tough game against Lincoln and it's important we are ready for the challenge.
"It is probably a whole new team from what we faced when we played at their place and I'm sure he'll have them fired up.
"Living there I have read about them in the local paper and my dad goes to their games, so I have an idea what to expect.
"They have struggled off the back of relegation (from the Football League) but David gets people hungry, determined and competing.
"He is capable of getting good quality players in for next to nothing.
Marriott reckons this is the biggest derby Mansfield have on their current fixture list, even though not the closest.
He said: "Alfreton brought quite a few in the FA Trophy last year, but not so many this season.
"But a lot of Lincoln fans will probably make the trip and I think that will hep us because it will make for a decent atmosphere."
"Probably playing back there was the biggest thing for me, living in the city and going back for the first time.
"I'm not going to make as much of this one. It's just vital that we win it to keep our momentum going."
Spotlight on Mansfield Town v Lincoln City
Nottingham Post, Friday, March 02, 2012
Squad: Marriott, Redmond, O'Neill, Sutton, Geohaghon, Riley, Briscoe, Murray, Roberts, Hutchinson, Howell, Stevenson, Worthington, Meikle, Smith, Dyer, Green, Rhead.
Team news: Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox is still in negotiations to secure a left-back.
The deal with Paul Edwards, who has played the last two matches on loan from Fleetwood, has now expired.
The Stags boss says he may possibly extend that but could also bring in another left-back from elsewhere if it does not come off.
Skipper Adam Murray (ankle) is recovering quicker than expected from a knock he took in the 2-1 win over Tamworth but is still rated 50-50.
Matt Bell (ankle) and Sam Craven Craven (groin) have resumed training but are not likely to be considered as they lack match fitness.
Gary Roberts (calf) missed training on Tuesday with a slight calf problem, but is expected to be fit.
Squad: Anyon, Robson, Gowling, Nutter, Williams, Bore, Christophe, Power, Thompson, Pacquette, Taylor, Louis, Almond, Rodney, Draper, Nicolau.
Team news: Lincoln have a host of ex-Mansfield players in their squad, including Tyrone Thompson, Richard Pacquette, Jefferson Louis and Nialle Rodney.
Peter Bore (ankle) hopes to shake off a knock sustained in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Telford.
However, Francis Laurent (ankle) and Andy Hutchinson (groin) are sidelined.
One to watch: Jefferson Louis. At Field Mill during Billy Dearden's tenure as boss, the striker has made an immediate impact since joining Lincoln in mid-February, scoring twice in his first three matches.
Manager: David Holdsworth. The former Sheffield United player needs no introduction to the home fans having bossed the Stags for almost two years. Lincoln have won just one of their last 11, including FA Trophy games, under his management, but have drawn five of those
I was not shown any loyalty at Mansfield Town, says Lincoln City's David Holdsworth
Lincolnshire Echo, Friday, March 02, 2012
As Imps boss David Holdsworth gets set to return to Mansfield Town for the first time, he talks to the Echo's Leigh Curtis about his time at the Nottinghamshire club and how changes behind the scenes cut short his tenure
Mansfield were a club in crisis when David Holdsworth walked through the doors at Field Mill in 2008.
The club had been crushed by their drop from the Football League and the former Sheffield United captain faced a tough rebuilding process.
Things were going well and the side were pushing for the play-offs by the time Holdsworth departed the club.
But as the now Imps boss prepares to head back to Field Mill for the first time since he left, he reveals in this interview how changes behind the scenes forced him to call it a day with the Stags.
When I took over at Mansfield it was in very difficult circumstances.
Andy Perry, who was the chairman at the time, approached Ilkeston where I was managing. He took me to Mansfield and he was a tremendous gentleman. We had a very good relationship and I enjoyed working with him.
We developed a very good working rapport which was needed because Mansfield was a very unhappy place.
There was a nucleus of negativity around the area and around its football club.
We tried to change that mindset straight away which we did by signing some good players.
There are still a few boys there who I signed, but some left, like Tom Naylor who went on to join Derby.
He was a young player and was somebody I identified and knew we could improve.
You have to remember the youth team and reserve team had collapsed. There was no money to invest in it either because relegation had hit the club hard.
But I gave Tom a long contract because I saw something in him, although I helped make him stronger and taught him some ethics regarding the position he played in, which was centre-back.
When I learned he was sold on to Derby, I was very pleased that Nigel Clough had seen something in him like I did.
But outside of Tom, I don't think anybody can doubt the quality that I brought in on very, very, minimal money at the time.
The captain Adam Murray has done well for the club after I pulled him out of Oxford, where he was having a tough time.
He was a good signing and I don't think anybody had heard of Louis Briscoe, but I signed him from the lower echelons of the league.
I brought him to Ilkeston then took him to Mansfield which was immediately questioned.
Nobody knew who he was and questioned whether that was the right type of player to bring in.
Last season he scored 20 goals and he would probably fit into anybody's team in this league and higher divisions.
Adam Smith, in my opinion, is one of the best wingers outside the league. He is a proper professional and a really good boy.
And the other one that stands out is Alan Marriott.
He is obviously well known at Lincoln, but he came to Mansfield from Rushden and has been ever present.
He is a tremendous boy, excellent goalkeeper and alongside Joe Anyon is up there with the best outside League One.
They are both athletic and both have excellent distribution.
Those four players make up over a third of the side and nobody could argue with those facts.
By the time I had left we were in a great position. We were four points off the play-offs having been in the top three for the opening six weeks.
That was in stark contrast when I first arrived because there was no doubt they needed snookers.
They were in a terrible state, there was no structure in place and it was a shambles.
It needed organising which myself and Andy Perry did. We made it a lot more professional.
But things changed. When Andy left, the club became a different place.
I would rather keep my professional dignity than divulge what went on because things need to be said at the appropriate times.
But when Andy left the atmosphere changed and when I left it rankled me because we were in a good position, but I was also glad to get out.
Some of the things that were going on behind closed doors were unbelievable and you could write a book on them.
Any manager would have found it difficult to put up with some of the equations.
They may come out one day, but I was very happy to depart although since I have left I have always remained dignified and professional.
I am very happy and proud to be the manager of Lincoln.
Like Mansfield, cuts have been made and it is in a similar position to when I arrived there.
I don't think anybody expects us to win there this weekend.
When I went back to Sheffield United 38,000 people gave me a round of applause.
I know I will be booed, but like one of my former players Gary Mills said to me they don't boo bad players or managers do they?
Robert Duffy also said the same.
When I was at Mansfield I had two very good offers to go into the Football League, but I remained loyal.
There was large compensation on my head and the clubs concerned were prepared to pay it.
But I stayed loyal. I spoke to Andy Perry who asked me what I wanted to do.
I said I had shaken hands with him and that's the kind of man I am – a man of principle.
I was very loyal to Mansfield, but it does not always get reciprocated does it?
The Lincoln City fans have been fantastic and I think most can see how far we have come in a short space of time. I know our fans will get behind our players which is what I want them to do
Lincoln City boss David Holdsworth: The Stags' boo-boys will not beat us
Lincolnshire Echo, Thursday, March 01, 2012
David Holdsworth expects to be targeted by Mansfield's boo-boys this weekend and insists they will spur him on to dent the Stags' play-off push.
The Lincoln boss is set to return to Field Mill on Saturday for the first time since he left the club in 18 months ago.
Holdsworth departed with the Stags four points off the play-off places and has never disclosed the real reasons for his exit.
But he said he was glad to leave the Stags having admitted the atmosphere of the club changed once previous chairman Andy Perry left to be replaced by John Radford.
And he said he was looking forward to his return and fully expects to feel the heat from Mansfield's fans.
"When Andy left the atmosphere changed and when I followed suit it rankled me because Mansfield were in a good position, but I was also glad to get out," he said.
"Some of the things that were going on behind closed doors were unbelievable and you could certainly write a book on them.
"Any manager would have found it difficult to put up with some of the equations.
"Will the fans boo me? I am sure they will.
"I think it will be a lot different from when I went back to Sheffield United and I was clapped by 38,000 people.
"But like one of my former players Gary Mills, who is a good friend of mine, said 'they don't boo bad players or managers, do they?'
“But I do not want to focus too much on Mansfield because I am very happy and proud to be the manager of Lincoln.
“The fans are fantastic and I am really enjoying it here – it's a terrific club.”
In what is their last big derby of the season, Lincoln are expected to be followed by more than 500 fans for the Blue Square Bet Premier clash.
But despite having lost just one of their last six games, Holdsworth believes his side are the underdogs.
However, he hopes the backing from the supporters will inspire his side to unsettle Paul Cox's charges.
“The Lincoln City fans have been fantastic,” he said.
“I think most of them can see how far we have come in a short space of time.
“I know our fans will get behind our players which is what I want them to do because it will be a tough game.
“We will not be expected to win, but we have tremendous spirit in the squad.
“We have proven that in recent weeks and we will give it everything to try and make sure our fans go home happy.”
Lincoln will make the short trip to Field Mill without injury victims Francis Laurent and Andy Hutchinson.
But Jamie Taylor is fit and is likely to be named on the substitutes' bench for the second consecutive week
Lincoln City must keep David Holdsworth, says Alan Marriott
Lincolnshire Echo, Thursday, March 01, 2012
Alan Marriott has urged Lincoln City to retain the services of David Holdsworth after admitting changing managers this summer would stunt the progress he has made.
The Sincil Bank legend, who spent nine years at the club, was one of Holdsworth's first signings at Mansfield and is now a favourite at Field Mill.
With Holdsworth's contract set to expire in the summer City's hierarchy have not indicated whether they are planning to extend his tenure.
But Marriott backed his former boss to stay in the hotseat, having been tasked with one of the hardest jobs in non-league football.
"David took over in difficult circumstances and was tasked with reducing the wage bill which is not easy," he said.
"With limited resources he's brought in some good players on next to no money and that is a great asset to have.
"What point would there be in changing the manager again in the summer?"
“If somebody else comes in, you are then faced with another summer of rebuilding with another manager having to get his feet under the table.
“David already knows what the club is about now and has worked under what have been really tough circumstances.
“Far from me to be telling Lincoln what to do, but that's my opinion.”
Holdsworth will be making his return to Field Mill on Saturday, the first time he has done so since he left the club in November 2010.
He parted company by mutual consent with the Stags just four points off the play-offs.
But Marriott praised the job he did at Mansfield where the circumstances surrounding his arrival were similar to Lincoln.
“When he came to Mansfield we were near the bottom of the league, but by the end of the campaign, we were in the top half,” he said.
“It was a terrific turnaround really and that was achieved by him bringing in his players.
“Four of the lads that he signed are still here, the likes of myself, Louis Briscoe, Adam Murray and Adam Smith.
“He certainly developed a good team spirit too and did not stand for any cliques.
“When he left the club we were only four points off the play-offs. So all in all he did a good job.”
Marriott is expecting another strange occasion when he faces the Imps, the club where he was an integral part of its success under Keith Alexander.
“I am sure the game at Sincil Bank will be far stranger than the one this weekend,” he said.
“On that occasion I was just glad to get it over with.
“But at Field Mill the focus won't be on me as much.
“But of course it will still be strange facing the club which I know so well.”
Latest | March 2012