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SSA THANK STUART AND NEIL
3/December/2002 22:05:13

On behalf of all Stags fans and all SSA members we feel it important to express our gratitude to Stuart Watkiss and Neil Richardson for the magnificent service they have given to Mansfield Town FC. Stuart first joined the club as a player under Andy King back in 1997 but sadly was forced into early retirement due to an ankle injury. Neil joined in the Summer of 1999 when the Stags squad was down to just 9 players and helped the side maintain its place in the Football League. Stuart was a natural leader and was highly regarded by all at the club, after his retirement he was given the responsibility of Youth Team Manager. During his spell as Youth Team manager the club produced many fine young players who eventually formed the backbone of the Stags promotion squad last season, indeed the Youth Team itself enjoyed a period of great success. When Mark Kearney left for Northampton at the begining of last season Stuart was seen as the natural choice to take over as Assistant Manager to Billy Dearden, with Neil taking over as Youth Team Manager after also being forced to quit playing through injury. It was no coincidence that the side immediately blossomed with the fast attacking style of play we all enjoyed last season. Players such as Bobby Hassell, Liam Lawrence, Lee Williamson and Craig Disley were all first team regulars and all learned their trade under Stuart. With the side riding high, manager Billy Dearden quit to join Notts County and Stuart was the choice of the majority of Stags fans to stear the Stags to promotion, which he duly did with the help of Neil as the new Assistant Manager. This season was always going to be a tough one at a higher level, but was made even tougher by losing key players through injury. We also believe Stuart was not given enough support to strengthen the squad and that the number of professionals at the club is not sufficient to survive at this level. In many games this season we have seen the potential the side clearly still has and just one or two new players of the appropriate standard could have made all the difference. Stuart & Neil both always gave 100% to our club and have always been readily available to discuss issues with a refreshing openess, they will be sadly missed and we wish them both every success in the future.


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