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Archived News from January 2011

4th January 2011 12:20


Friday 31st December 2010
thenorthernecho.co.uk, By Craig Stoddart, Deputy Sports Editor


AFTER a spate of postponements Darlington make their long-awaited return to action tomorrow, however, for two players the trip to Fleetwood Town will mark their last appearance for the club.


He is one of several transfer targets that Cooper has in mind, but the manager has had to put his interest in Mansfield Town striker Paul Connor on hold.

On Tuesday The Northern Echo revealed Darlington's interest in the striker, who has scored ten goals this season, but the Stags turned down Quakers' offer.

“We enquired about Paul Connor and we did make an offer for him, but it was turned down,” said Cooper.

“He's a Bishop Auckland boy and has scored a lot of goals this season. He would've improved us but obviously it was not to be.

“Mansfield do not want to sell their best players so that's where we are with that one.

“That's the kind of player we're looking at, but sometimes you can't have what you want and bear in mind his contract is up at the end of the season so we might have the option of taking him for nothing then.”


The Cash Registers Are Again Ringing At BP!!
grimsby-townfc.co.uk, Thu 30 Dec 2010
THE game on New Year's Day versus Mansfield, kick off 3pm at Blundell Park is DEFINITELY ON.


The pitch, reported by head groundsman, Mike Phillips, is in good condition, with no frost or standing water. With a weather forecast looking very positive over the next 48 hours, it could be perfect conditions for the game on New Year's Day.
The Mariners have not played a single Blue Square Bet Premier match in December but are hoping a predicted rise in temperature over the next few days will give them a chance of getting the New Year's Day home clash with Mansfield Town on.


Stags winger Louis Briscoe looking to push on
Evening Post

AS the Mansfield Town team bus prepared to leave the Abbey Stadium following the side's demolition of Cambridge United on Tuesday, Adam Murray just had time to nip over the road to order some Chinese take-away.


It was a well-earned reward for the squad, who had shown admirable discipline over the festive period to ensure they returned to action with a bang.

With their Boxing Day home match with Grimsby Town called off, the team trained every day except Christmas Day to ensure their month without league action was no problem.

So it was more than justified that a 5-1 victory against Martin Ling's side was celebrated with some take-away food.

Although the choice of grub may not have been to everyone's liking, there would have been no more deserving a recipient than winger Louis Briscoe.

Among a string of outstanding performers, the former Ilkeston and Port Vale man was almost untouchable in the second half, when he terrorised the United backline.

In fact, he did just about everything but score, having his shot saved in a one-on-one situation by Danny Naisbitt.

Nevertheless, Briscoe was delighted with the start to Duncan Russell's reign as permanent boss – both from an individual and team perspective.

"We all wanted to get off to a good start under Russ and that's exactly what we did. We went to Cambridge and played without fear and bossed the game," said Briscoe.

"Russ wants to put his own stamp on things with the idea of being solid, but allowing the forward players to express themselves.

"Adam (Smith) and myself got plenty of the ball, Keigan Parker worked tirelessly and Rob Duffy won his headers.

"I started off slowly early doors, but when I got on the attack I thought I did pretty well.

"That's what I'm aiming for more often and I do think I have been more consistent this season. I have started 14 games on the spin now so I must be doing something better than I was."

Russell's approach is already seeing the Stags adopt an unusual method at half-time.

Instead of dishing out a lecture, the boss allows the players to have their own say, to take 'ownership' before adding his own comments.

It is something Briscoe believes works well.

He said: "The manager comes in and says sort yourselves out for five minutes and at Cambridge Rhys (Day, captain) pointed out we needed to stay with our runners, among other things.

"Only then did Russ come in and say what he thought. I think it's a good idea because no-one, no matter who you are, likes being completely told what to do without any comeback. It's refreshing."

Briscoe is looking forward to another high-octane clash at Blundell Park against Grimsby this afternoon.

The Mariners have drawn three out of their last four Blue Square Bet Premier games, including a 1-1 draw at home to Barrow on November 20, their last league outing.

"They get good crowds and have had some decent results at home," said Briscoe.

"But we have got nothing to worry about if we go out and play the way we can. Certainly if we play how we did against Cambridge we will be a match for anyone."

Briscoe insists that success proves Mansfield can challenge for a play-off place.

The Stags looked capable of doing so last season, only to fade away in the New Year.

Briscoe said: "We are three points off the top five having played more games than some.

"Now we have to keep winning, including beating teams around us, which we haven't always done."


Stags defender Foster knows he might have to bide his time
Evening Post, 31 Dec 2010

STEVE Foster today acknowledged he has a huge fight on his hands to regain his first team place at Mansfield Town.


The central defender rejoined his home town team in the summer after coming through the trainee ranks at Field Mill more than a decade earlier.

But things then took a turn for the worse for Foster, who was sent off at Luton Town and then, not long after returning from the resulting suspension, again at Forest Green Rovers.

The second transgression resulted in a four-game ban, which he finally served after Tuesday's 5-1 victory a Cambridge United.

Foster is now available for the trip to Grimsby Town tomorrow, but the veteran performer knows it will not be easy to get back in favour after the side have gone four games unbeaten since Duncan Russell took charge.

"It seems so long since I have played, I just want to get back to normality," said Foster.

"But if the team is playing well and the results are going well, then sometimes you have to wait for an opportunity.

"That's how it might be here. Getting that result at Cambridge should leave everyone full of confidence.

"I've never been happy watching games from the sidelines, but I might just have to bide my time with Rhys (Day) and Grandy (Simon Grand) having done well."


Mansfield Town manager Russell spells it out to his players
Evening Post, 31 Dec 2010

DUNCAN Russell today warned his Mansfield Town players that only continued excellence will keep them in his starting line-up.


The Stags have started well under his leadership with three wins and a draw, including his initial caretaker spell.

Russell has hinted he will not be making too many changes to his squad during the January transfer window.

But that merely means he is expecting the highest of standards from his current charges.

And the former assistant manager points out that if people fail to perform, he has the means to change things around.

"To stay in the side, the players have to keep playing well, stay professional and work hard," said Russell.

"Competition in the squad is really good but I do feel there are some in the squad more committed than others – and I hope that rubs off.

"Everyone wants to be involved, they are professionals, but I want to see a good attitude from everyone, even when they aren't involved.

"If players have been out they may have to go the back of the queue, work hard and show they are ready to play when the opportunity arises.

"If they don't do that then that's tough. If you come out the team then the onus is on each individual player to get back in."


Former Mariner Simon ready to make his Grand entrance
thisisgrimsby.co.uk, 31 Dec 2010

IT wasn't just Grimsby Town's players who were disappointed with the Boxing Day postponement against Mansfield – a former Mariner in the Stags ranks was also keen to play and face his old side.


Defender Simon Grand is currently on loan at Field Mill from Fleetwood until the new year and scored his first goal for the club in their recent FA Trophy triumph over Worksop Town.

He was looking forward to facing Neil Woods' men on Boxing Day at Field Mill. It wasn't to be for Grand on that occasion, but he'll have another quickfire chance against Town tomorrow in the scheduled reverse fixture at Blundell Park.

Grand will no doubt look forward to a return to Cleethorpes, even if he does admit his brief spell with the Mariners in the second half of the 2006/7 campaign still ranks as his worst time in football.

The 26-year-old, who made just seven Town appearances, said: "The six months I was at Grimsby was probably the most unhappy time of my career.

"It was a couple of years ago and Alan Buckley was the manager, but it just didn't work out.

"It was disappointing because I had left such a good club like Carlisle and then I wasn't in the team.

"These things happen in football. Neil Woods is manager now, and he was on the coaching staff when I was there. He has done a fantastic job."

Grand may have had a difficult time on the east coast but he acknowledges the size of the club.

And he believes a meeting between Town and the Stags will be a league encounter again one day.

The Lancastrian does, however, appreciate it isn't an easy task to bounce back from relegation quickly.

Grand went on: "Gone are the days when a side goes down from the Football League and goes straight back up. There are too many big teams now.

"At one time this was not just a game in the Football League but two teams who might be up there challenging for promotion.

"But there are a few teams in this league who you could say that about, teams who if they were in League Two now could stay up and do well.

"That's what makes this league so competitive and hard to get out of.

"But both Mansfield and Grimsby are the type of teams who could get on a roll before the end of the season."


From World Cup to Field Mill as Hall looks to build his coaching credentials
Evening Post, 31 Dec 2010

HAVING played at the 1998 World Cup in France, plying your trade in slightly less salubrious surroundings of Field Mill might not seem like the most appealing of prospects.


But for football-mad Paul Hall, the lure of re-establishing himself in the professional game has proven just too much.

As a pacey and skilful right-winger, Hall served Torquay United, Portsmouth, Walsall, Rushden and Diamonds, Tranmere and Chesterfield – among others – with great distinction.

The 38-year-old also donned the gold and green of his adopted country Jamaica 41 times, which arguably incorporated the Reggae Boyz' most illustrious period in their history.

But it is with Mansfield, in the rugged world of the Blue Square Bet Premier, that Hall will look to build his coaching credentials.

He was first appointed on to the Stags' staff in the summer to run the club's youth set-up.

However, after a matter of weeks, he was let go after the team was disbanded as a cost-cutting measure.

Assistant boss at that time, Duncan Russell, did not forget about Hall, who he knew from their time together at Walsall where the Saddlers won promotion to what is now the Championship in 2000-01.

And when Russell was asked to take over as caretaker manager, he quickly drafted in Hall as his second in command.

That management team has now been made permanent until the end of the season by chairman John Radford.

"There were some high profile candidates and lots of people being bandied around," said Hall, who is helping prepare the Stags for their trip to Grimsby tomorrow.

"But with Russ he was always going to have a headstart because he has already worked with the other players.

"A new manager would have to work out all their characters but he already knows what they are about.

"Russ is a loyal person and he has always kept in touch. He was the one that got me the job at Mansfield in the first place. He earmarked me because he knew I had done my 'A' licence and he knew I was trying to get into professional coaching.

"He spoke to David Holdsworth about me coming in during the summer and got the go-ahead.

"It was taken away from me in the end but I just kept the faith and he always said he would help me out if he could.

"So I was delighted when he rang me about being his assistant – this is the biggest helping hand I have had in football. Everyone needs a bit of help at one point or another. This time a month ago I was working at Solihull College. Now I have come back to Mansfield and got a promotion!

"I enjoyed my time at the college but you do miss the professional mentality, which makes a massive difference, even though the students worked very hard.

"The players have really stepped up to the mark since I have been here and it has made it really enjoyable."

Hall has also acquired a degree in sports journalism from Staffordshire University thanks to a course run by former Sheffield Wednesday player Lawrie Madden.

Among those who have joined him on the course are former Forest players Jason Lee and Barry Roche and ex-Notts man Gavin Strachan.

He said: "It's important to try to get across to players that they need another career when they have stopped playing.

"The PFA helped me do the course and my coaching while I was still playing.

"A lot of players when they are 26 or 27 still haven't thought about what they are going to do after they finish playing.

"Many feel they are just around the corner from a million-pound contract but even players who get those need some kind of direction."

Manchester-born Hall was taken on as a trainee by Torquay United in the summer of 1990, just days after England had been knocked out of the World Cup at the semi-final stage by West Germany.

It was at the same time that a name for the future was also just cutting his teeth at Plainmoor.

"A scout from Birmingham took me down to Torquay along with Lee Sharpe, who I was in digs with," said Hall.

"Manchester United were always looking at Torquay players and that's how he got his move up there.

"I left home and went down there straight after leaving school and it was a good learning curve."

His form attracted a £70,000 bid from Portsmouth and a move for a spell at Fratton Park he greatly enjoyed.

It was there he also caught the eye of the Jamaica selectors.

Hall said: "It was towards the end of my time at Portsmouth that I first got in the squad where I played with Deon Burton, Fitzroy Simpson and Darryl Powell.

"That was a great period because I got to see things from a different perspective on the international stage.

"I worked with Brazilian (coach) Rene Simoes – and the Brazilians really know what they are doing, but we don't always accept their way of coaching here.

"I try to use elements of what I have learned from them."

Three of his caps came during in 1998 when Jamaica made their first World Cup Finals appearance.

They failed to make it out of Group H, losing 3-1 to Croatia and 5-0 to Argentina before recording a consolation 2-1 win over Japan.

"It was huge, massive, playing in the World Cup – the biggest moment of my career," said Hall.

"To get to be involved like that as a Championship player was amazing. Only a tiny percentage of players get to go to a World Cup.

"We were rubbing shoulders with some of the very best in the world, especially as we had Croatia and Argentina, as well as Japan, in our group.

"We managed to beat Japan, which was a great result for us, and we played against a Croatia team that had people like Prosinecki, Boban, Jarni and Suker, while Argentina had Batistuta, Zanetti, Ortega and Veron."

Hall retains the same kind of focus that carried him to that stage as he has started the day-to-day graft he hopes will help lever Mansfield into the end-of-season play-offs.

He said: "It's important for the fans and the town that we are back playing at Field Mill with the history.

"But what is most important through all this has been the spirit of the players. You could have put the boys on any pitch and they would have been ready for the challenge.

"It has been a nightmare through the whole thing, especially with so many games being off during the same period.

"They have really showed their true colours and I think they will come back strongly when they get going in the New Year.

"They have been in training virtually every day, apart from Christmas Day, so if any of them did each too much turkey they have certainly run it off by now!"


Stags boss Russell prepared to play a waiting game
Evening Post, 30 Dec 2010
NEW Mansfield Town boss Duncan Russell says he has 'one or two' targets in the January transfer window – but will not be rushed into new signings.


The first movement of his tenure came with the exit of striker Lee Gregory who has joined former loan club Halifax Town in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

More players are expected to leave as the squad is considered too large by chairman John Radford.

But while Radford will also permit new arrivals, Russell insists he will play a waiting game.

"It's not going to be the case when we get to January 1 of buy, buy, buy," said Russell.

"A lot of the best deals are done on the last day of the January transfer window, not the first.

"I have got my eye on one or two who would enhance the squad. Feelers are being put out but there is nothing definite to go on. We will not panic, we will take our time.

"The chairman has said he wants the squad to be cut down slightly and there are players who may be moved on.

"But those who do come in have to raise the standard and level of competition."

Russell revealed it was Gregory who opted to leave Field Mill when the club wanted him to stay.

He said: "The chairman, chief executive (Steve Barker), Paul Hall (assistant manager) and myself all wanted him to stay here and graft to get himself into the team.

"I told him I wanted him to stay but he was not willing to do that. I am not going to stand in the way of a player who is disgruntled."

Top scorer Paul Connor (calf), who missed the win at Cambridge, remains a doubt for the New Year's Day clash at Grimsby.



Latest | January 2011