Jimmy McCaffrey - a Mansfield Town legend 

by Martin Shaw, with Paul Taylor, March 2006

(photos at bottom of this page)

A couple of years ago, I was asked to nominate the top six cult heroes in Mansfield Town’s history, for a feature on the BBC’s Football Focus. I had no hesitation in naming Jimmy McCaffrey among that list. A tricky winger by trade, McCaffrey delighted fans at Field Mill, and was involved in some of the club’s finest ever times. 

In March, McCaffrey was a visitor to Field Mill for the visit of Boston United. He returns to Field Mill at least once a season and still holds the club dear to his heart. We interviewed Jimmy live on the club’s internet radio service Stagsworld, before the game, and you can read the full interview below. 

Jimmy McCaffrey joined Mansfield Town in July 1972 from Nottingham Forest where he had shone as an England Youth International. McCaffrey had been born in Luton in 1951 and joined Forest at the age of 16. In his first season at Field Mill in 1972/73, McCaffrey became a firm favourite, playing 45 league games and scoring 7 league goals. The Stags were top of the Division IV table for the first half of the season, but won just 6 of their last 20 games to gradually drop down the table. Mansfield went into the final game of the season away to Cambridge knowing that a win would earn promotion and they led twice with McCaffrey getting one of the goals, only to lose 3-2 and hence miss out (video footage of McCaffrey’s goal is available on www.Stagsnet.net). 

The following season, 1973/4, was one of disappointment as the Stags finished in 17th place. During the season, McCaffrey played 40 league games, scoring 3 league goals. Manager Danny Williams left the club in March and was replaced by Dave Smith. 

The 1974/5 season was one of the finest in the Stags’ history and is remembered by many Stags fans as one of the most enjoyable ever. The Stags were champions of Division IV and clocked up over 100 goals in all competitions. There were so many memorable games with perhaps the pick being a 7-0 demolition of Scunthorpe United at Field Mill in April 1975 to clinch the title. McCaffrey played 39 times in the league, scoring 6 league goals (two of which are pictured here). McCaffrey set up countless goals for forwards Ray Clarke and Terry Eccles, who scored an incredible 50 goals between them. Probably McCaffrey’s best game came in a trouncing of Lincoln, when the headline of the back page of the CHAD read “FOUR POINTS CLEAR AS LINCOLN ARE McCAFFREYISED”. Stan Searl added in the Chad: “Plenty of McCaffrey magic to delight the fans and spearhead a Stags performance that had all the hallmarks of champions.” 

1975/6 was also an extraordinary season. The Stags were back in Division III but made a disastrous start and by mid February were 5 points adrift at the bottom, having won just 4 of their opening 27 games. Incredibly the Stags remained unbeaten for the final 19 games of the season, winning 12, to end the season only nine points from a promotion place. There were several highlights including a 3-0 win at Peterborough United in front of the BBC Match of the Day cameras, with McCaffrey scoring one of the goals (if anyone has the video footage of this, please contact me at martin-shaw@thestags.freeserve.co.uk).  During the season, McCaffrey played 36 times in the league, scoring 2 league goals. Again, McCaffrey set up countless goals for Ray Clarke, who scored 29 goals during the season. Stags fans were shocked by the sudden departure of manager Dave Smith towards the end of the season. 

In the 1976/7 season, Mansfield were promoted from Division III to Division II for the first and only time in their history. Former Stags favourite Peter Morris was brought in as player-manager before the season started, and he brought in Johnny Miller, a winger from Norwich. Miller’s arrival eventually signalled the end of McCaffrey, but nevertheless during this important season season, McCaffrey played 18 times in the league, scoring 3 league goals. 

In total, McCaffrey made 178 league appearances for Mansfield scoring 21 league goals, and an additional 26 FA Cup and League Cup appearances with 6 goals. 

McCaffrey left the club in January 1977 to join Huddersfield Town, along with his good friend Terry Eccles. A year later McCaffrey joined Portsmouth, and a year after that he joined Northampton Town. After giving up football, McCaffrey became a newsagent, and he still is, in Leicestershire.

________________

Full Interview with Jimmy McCaffrey

Broadcast live on Stagsworld, before the Boston United game at Field Mill, on 11 March 2006. Interview by Martin Shaw and Steve Hartshorn. 

Stagsworld: Jimmy, I gather you get over to Field Mill about once a season? 

Jim: Yes we do, it’s an annual thing, we have a good day out. It’s fantastic to come back.  

Stagsworld: What are you doing with yourself now; are you involved in football? 

Jim: No, not at all. I’m a newsagent. I’ve been a newsagent since I finished playing in 1980.  

Stagsworld: Field Mill’s changed a little bit since you played here, apart from the Bishop Street. What do you reckon to the new stadium? 

Jim: It’s looking pretty good. You say it’s changed a lot, but I don’t think it’s changed as much as other grounds have changed.  

Stagsworld: When did you join Mansfield? 

Jim: I joined in 1972.  

Stagsworld: Obviously, you were part of the record-breaking 1974-75 team. I think you probably played pretty much every game that season. Was there any one particular game that stood out for you that season? Tell us your memories of that season. 

Jim: Yes, we won the Fourth Division under Dave Smith. The game against Scunthorpe when we needed to win to the clinch the championship, and we won 7-0 in front of, I don’t know, was it 11 or 12 thousand people, it was fantastic.  

Stagsworld: And then there was the game against Lincoln City, and we were just talking about it earlier in the bar weren’t we, where the headline on the back page of the CHAD was “Four points clear as Lincoln are McCaffrey’ised”. Do you remember that game?  

Jim: Yes I do. You know certain players have good games and I just had one of those games on the night where I tore them to bits and, you know, you don’t write headlines do you, somebody else does that. The next season there were great expectations. Dave signed a couple of players that didn’t quite work out. He changed the team around Christmas, and we went on a fantastic run, and narrowly missed promotion. Then, under circumstances nobody could have foreseen, Dave was sacked, Peter Morris came in and the rest is history. He signed Johnny Miller, Kev Randall, Ernie Moss, and it was just a fantastic side and arguably that side was probably one of the best ever seen at Field Mill.  

Stagsworld: You left Mansfield in the middle of the 1976/77 season. Tell us a bit about why you left the club. 

Jim: Well you don’t want to go into too many sort of … It was my decision. Peter Morris had brought Johnny Miller in. Obviously I’d been at the club 4 or 5 years. I thought the time was right for me to move. Peter, to his credit, said it was my decision. I moved, and probably made the wrong decision. And the rest is history really. 

Stagsworld: Peter Morris turned out to be a successful manager for Mansfield. But Dave Smith was widely regarded as the manager who put that team together, even the one that got promoted to Division II. Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Dave Smith. 

Jim: Dave was an unbelievable manager. Probably in comparable terms today to the Chelsea manager Mourinho: a little bit of arrogance, full of self-confidence, probably rubbed people up the wrong way - maybe directors. The players never knew where they stood with him, but having said that I can’t knock the guy, he got the best out of me, and god bless him. 

Stagsworld: So are you still in touch with any of those players? 

Jim: Yes, I’m still in touch with Terry Eccles. Me and Terry moved together on the same transfer deal to Huddersfield. But apart from that, inevitably 30 years down the line you do drift apart. 

Stagsworld: What about today’s game? Do you still follow Mansfield’s results? 

Jim: Of course, it’s the first result I look for. Obviously I’m looking for a Mansfield victory today, but I do think they’ve got to keep a check on Joachim. 

Stagsworld: Jimmy, it’s been an absolute pleasure to meet you. Next time you’re here, please come up and say hello again. 

Jim: This is the seventh trip we’ve made. It’s always great to come back, we have a great day. We’re always well received. And it’s just a fantastic club. 

------------

Listen to the interview here.

-----------  

Scoring at Brentford in Nov74 (photo thanks to Paul Taylor)

               

Scoring against Swansea in Oct74

 

CHAD headline, April 1975

 

McCaffrey (centre) watches as Hodgson scores in the 7-0 win over Scunthorpe in Apr75


in 1973

 

in 1974

 

McCaffrey today.