McCaffrey - a Mansfield Town legend
by Martin Shaw, with Paul Taylor, March 2006
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
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.
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).
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
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 email@example.com).
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.
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
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.
Interview with Jimmy McCaffrey
live on Stagsworld, before the Boston United game at Field Mill, on 11 March
2006. Interview by Martin Shaw and Steve Hartshorn.
Jimmy, I gather you get over to Field Mill about once a season?
Yes we do, it’s an annual thing, we have a good day out. It’s fantastic to
What are you doing with yourself now; are you involved in football?
No, not at all. I’m a newsagent. I’ve been a newsagent since I finished
playing in 1980.
Field Mill’s changed a little bit since you played here, apart from the Bishop
Street. What do you reckon to the new stadium?
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.
When did you join Mansfield?
I joined in 1972.
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.
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.
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?
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.
You left Mansfield in the middle of the 1976/77 season. Tell us a bit about why
you left the club.
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.
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 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.
So are you still in touch with any of those players?
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.
What about today’s game? Do you still follow Mansfield’s results?
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
Jimmy, it’s been an absolute pleasure to meet you. Next time you’re here,
please come up and say hello again.
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