HYMAS/SAUNDERS/BLAND: STAGS & AFC MANSFIELD
'Three amigos' go back to their roots in the Central Midlands
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 Nottingham Post
AFC Mansfield was born when three directors broke away from Mansfield Town. Steve Hymas, Andy Saunders and Darren Bland were unhappy with their lot at the Stags... to put it mildly.
When the three resigned they were inundated with offers from local clubs to join their boards.
"As football fans we wanted to stay in the game and get back to enjoying our Saturdays with our families and friends," said Hymas.
"We had toyed with the idea of calling the club FC United of Mansfield, a rebel club.
"But, as Mansfield fans, we found it very difficult to associate with any other name.
"This is a community club and is not intended to be a rival of Mansfield Town FC, which is still dear in our hearts.
"We are ambitious, but we are happy to be the second club in Mansfield.
"My one regret at quitting the Stags was leaving the youth team, which I set up last year from scratch. It was all going so well and was very hard to leave behind.
"I have been to watch them three times this season, along with the first team and will do so whenever I can.
"You see, I will always be a Stags fan no matter what. My dad was a lifelong fan and so am I. That hasn't changed."
Hymas, who runs a local property development company, says the trio have a four-five year plan for the club.
That includes a second team and, eventually, a youth team. "We aim to develop the stadium at Forest Town to a high standard with the Evo-Stik League in mind," he said.
"I used to drive past Forest Town and it upset me to see it vandalised and in decline and would certainly have been lost forever. Now it has a new life.
"We have all mucked in, literally, to bring it back to life.
"We have spent £15,000 alone on the dressing rooms and the referee's room, which are up to Football League standard now. And the floodlights are first- class as well.
"The other day I was at a farm picking up fertilizer for the main pitch, which has now been re-seeded."
Hymas says he is not surprised to see the club sitting at the top of the Central Midlands League.
"We want to win this league," he said. "We wanted a manager that knew players at this level and that's why we went for Micky Taylor, who had been at Shirebrook.
"He quickly built a side and brought in some talented players, like Mark Carter, Dean Rick, ex-Arnold man Phil Buxton, Ricky Chambers and Carl Haslem to name but a few, and now everyone wants to play for us."
AFC had the benefit of a good pre-season after winning their historic first fixture, 2-1 at Rainworth MW, courtesy of two goals from Pete Stubley.
Around 300 turned up for the historic first home game, against newly-promoted NCEL side Clipstone Welfare.
In the end they had to settle for a 1-1 draw, Steve McGurk heading the 65th-minute equaliser from a Danny Tighe free-kick.
Seven days later, two more new signings, Mark Staniforth and Dean Rick, came onto the bench for the friendly at Clay Cross Town.
AFC registered a comfortable 4-1 win with goals from Carter (2), Meehan (pen) and Danny McLane.
But they were brought back down to earth a bit in their final pre-season friendly losing 2-0 at home to Sutton Town.
Now, everyone connected with fledgling club has every right to feel bullish about the future after the Bulls signed a five-year deal to play at Forest Town.
Taylor's entertaining side certainly does not look out of place in the Central Midlands League.
They won their first three games – 6-2 at Brodsworth Welfare, 4-0 at home to DFS Welbeck Welfare and 3-1 at home to Westella Hanson.
Unfortunately, the midweek game with Ollerton was abandoned, because of floodlight failure, with AFC 2-0 up at the time.
And it got worse for AFC as they literally paid the penalty in a 5-3 defeat at Dronfield.
AFC led 3-2 with goals from Rick (2) and Carter.
A defensive error allowed Dronfield in for the equaliser but Carl Haslam made it 4-3 to the delight of the travelling AFC fans.
The game looked over but the referee then awarded two penalties in the last five minutes, sending Steve McGurk off into the bargain.
On Bank Holiday Monday they won 2-0 at home to local rivals Thoresby in front of a crowd of 159.
AFC then donned their shooting boots at Phoenix Sports bagging an impressive nine goals.
There were hat-tricks for Dean Rick and Carl Haslem with Mark Carter getting a brace. Joe Meehan became only the fourth AFC player to score this season.
Tomorrow night AFC entertain local rivals Sherwood Colliery at The Forest Town Stadium.
AFC Mansfield (from): Sheppard, Armstrong, McLane, Cox, Pride, McGurk, Short, Naylor, Meehan, Chambers, Buxton, Rick, Haslem, Carter, Patel, Rodger
Latest | September 2012