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Archived News from May 2011

9th May 2011 16:36

Stags currently have 15 players fit and eligible for the game at Wembley.

Players eligible and fit to play at Wembley, by my reckoning, by Martin Shaw:




Mitchley (injured but expected to be fit for Wembley).

Suspended, pending appeal: Istead.
Not eligible: Grof, Preece, Hall, Medley, O'Rafferty, Higginson, Parker.
Definitely out injured: Day, Sandwith.


Gaffer appeals Istead red card
mansfieldtown.net, Tue 03 May 2011
Duncan Russell is hoping the FA disciplinary committee overturn Steven Istead's 15th minute red card from our match away to Bath City last Saturday.


The midfielder was sent off for serious foul play which would mean he will miss this Saturday's Wembley final should the red card stand. But the manager believes the decision by referee Marvin Robinson to send off the 25-year-old should be overturned:

"It is clear from the video evidence that the challenge from Steven Istead is late. However, law states that, to send a player off for serious foul play the challenge must be of 'excessive force'.

"Despite the challenge being late, it is careless if not reckless at best, but in no way is the challenge excessive."

He added: "One can usually tell when a player is trying to harm an opponent - this is not the case in this incident. In my opinion, the referee has called this incorrectly and has not distinguished correctly between 'foul play' and 'serious foul play'."

Meanwhile, we are disappointed to confirm that defender Mark Preece and striker Luke Medley will not be allowed to play in the match due to a rule which states that players must be at the club for the time of FA Trophy semi-final.

"We sent the players out on loan to give them match minutes and since they have come back we have been told that they can only play in the league and not the final," said Russell.

"Luke Medley, for example, has already played in the competition in previous rounds, so for him not to be allowed to play in the final due to a rule of this nature is very disappointing. I know Mark Cooper is facing the same predicament with one of his players," he added


Stags chairman determined to enjoy the Wembley occasion but has plenty of other things on his mind
Evening Post, 4 May 2011

THERE was only one thing in John Radford's mind when he became Mansfield Town owner last September – getting the club back into the Football League.


Back then, he probably did not appreciate the size of the task on his hands, given the moribund state of a club following the Keith Haslam era.

But as an astute and successful businessman, it would not have taken Radford long to size up the situation and put a plan in place.

And, as we all now know, his first target is for the club to own its own ground; to wrestle back control of Field Mill from landlord Haslam.

Without that, Mansfield are never going to be able to thrive – and Radford knows it.

That battle – which now looks set to be waged in court – is not going to be an easy one to win.

After Mansfield were temporarily kicked out of their long-term home in the lead up to Christmas, Haslam has already made it abundantly clear he will not relinquish the stadium that Mansfield claim he acquired illegally and he strongly disagrees, without a fight.

But Radford is patient and remains confident he will prevail, however long it takes.

Of course, if he can't give Field Mill back to the fans as soon as this summer, as he hopes, then it is going to affect whether the club goes full tilt at promotion in 2011-12.

Sensibly, the chairman is only going to invest the £2 million he believes is needed to get out of the Blue Square Premier when the club have the ground with which they can take a place in the Football League.

Aside from that, Radford, together with the rest of the new Stags board, have to decide who will be in the manager's hot-seat next season.

Current boss Duncan Russell's contract is up in the summer and they have to decide whether he is the right man to take the club forward.

But all that, Radford insists, is for the future. Right now, he is determined to concentrate on enjoying Mansfield's once-in-a-generation trip to Wembley and hopes the Stags fans will similarly do the same.

"There are a few things I have had to try to sort out while I have been here and I am still working on them," said Radford. "We all want to get the stadium situation sorted.

"Once we have got those done, we can concentrate on trying to get out of the current league and back into the Football League.

"But this will be a terrific day out for the fans and one for everyone to enjoy. Wembley is a great stadium and we are really looking forward to Saturday.

"It is going to be the highlight of our season after we held our own in the league.

"If we won the trophy it would be a fantastic end to the season and give everyone a lift.

"I think winning a trophy will help the manager with his cause when we are bringing players in.

"Players always like to come to a club that has done well the season before and having a trophy in the cabinet definitely helps."

Mansfield have comfortably out-sold their rivals in terms of tickets for the big day, with the Stags keen to get as close as they can to their pre-allocated 15,000. More than 13,000 have been snapped up already.

Darlington, by contrast, have off-loaded only about 8,000, giving the Stags a significant advantage on the terraces, or rather in the seats, down in the capital.

Radford has been delighted with the response from the Mansfield public.

He said: "The amount of fans we are taking to Wembley shows that there is the potential there.

"Not many other Conference teams can take that sort of fan base down to Wembley.

"I'm sure Darlington will get up to around the 10,000 mark and with us taking up towards the 15,000 mark, it should make for a good atmosphere."

When Mansfield lifted the Freight Rover Trophy, Radford was as thrilled as anyone with his home town's triumph.

But having missed that memorable occasion, he is happy to be the club's figurehead this time around.

"I remember the day Mansfield got to Wembley in 1987, but I didn't actually get to the game, which was a shame," said Radford.

"I was in Germany at the time so I was disappointed I couldn't go. I have been to Wembley before but this is the first time I will have been with Mansfield."

Radford believes Mansfield will be much stronger off-the-field next season now the club has a new-look board.

Darren Bland and Mark Hawkins have joined former owners Steve Hymas, Steve Middleton and Andrew Saunders as executive directors.

Radford said: "Everyone around that board table is 100 per cent committed to Mansfield Town and making them a success.

"They are all sensible businessmen, so it is nice to have their help, not just in games but in the running of the club as well."


Wembley win could be Stags' springboard
CHAD.co.uk, Wednesday 4 May 2011

VICTORY at Wembley will give Mansfield Town the springboard they need to regain their former Football League status, according to club chairman John Radford.


Radford took over at the Stags helm midway through the season and has enjoyed a Wembley final appearance at the first time of asking.

Focused Radford, who is used to footballing success after helping turn around the ailing fortunes of Doncaster Rovers, now believes the Wembley showcase will give the Field Mill side just the lift they need to make a serious attempt at bouncing back into League Two

“The FA Trophy will give a big boost to the town,”said Radford, who recently unveiled a brand new board of directors aimed at taking the club forward.

“Being in the final creates a positive feel for the whole town and I think it will be a good springboard for us to get where we want to be, which of course includes getting promoted.

“As a football club we have good support and a lot of potential. This final will help drive us forward to where we want to be.”

Radford has already sampled the Wembley winning feeling when Doncaster defeated Leeds 1-0 in the League One Play-off Final in 2008.

And even though he has experienced it all before, Radford says he will still be experiencing some big game nerves.

“I am fantastically proud that we are in the final. I am loving every minute of it, there are some nerves but I am very proud of the team” he said.

“It will be a day that goes very quickly and the game will just fly by and I'm wishing the team luck and a lot of it.

“I used to have pre-match superstitions for times like this, but I have grown out of them now. I am just going to relax and enjoy what will be a very memorable day for us all.”


Wembley is boyhood dream come true for Briscoe
CHAD.co.uk, Wednesday 4 May 2011

FOR Louis Briscoe and his Stags team-mates, playing at Wembley in an FA final will be the completition of a boyhood dream.


Like many young lads up and down the country Briscoe, whose 118th minute strike in the second leg against Luton propelled Stags into the final, dreamed of scoring the winning goal at Wembley.

And on Saturday the former Port Vale man will have the chance to do just that as he turns ambition into reaity when he steps out onto the hallowed turf of the national stadium as Stags take on Darlington in the FA Trophy final.

“Playing at Wembley is the stuff that we all dream about,” said Briscoe, who capped a fine season by being named the Chad Readers' Player of the Season.

“We watch the FA Cup final and England games and dream of playing at this stadium and to be here is an amazing feeling.

“It has been a long road for us since we faced Worksop Town at Ilkeston on that cold night in November. We have had some tough matches and done it the hard way having to play replays against Alfreton and Chasetown.

“We went on a great run in this competition and now we have to finish it off by winning the cup.”

And although Mansfield Town experienced a gruelling end to their faltering league campaign, the flying winger says his side will be all guns blazing during the showpiece occasion.

“We have played a lot of games in this competition and a lot of league games in close succession, but when we come out at Wembley there will be no thoughts of tired legs,” he said.

“The adrenalin will be running through us and the buzz of the crowd will drive us on.

“The nerves will play a part in the game, but we have to go out there and enjoy the day and the experience. There will be a fantastic atmosphere and it will the biggest game in our careers for some of the team.

“This is the certainly the biggest game of my career, the one before that was the Luton semi-final. We are thinking about the match, it is hard to put something like this out of your mind.”

Stags are set to be roared on by more than 13,000 fans as the town comes out in force in what they hope will be a repeat of that famous day back in 1987 when Mansfield Town defeated Bristol City on penalties in the Freight Rover Trophy final


Stags legend Foster backs Russell as Mansfield boss
Evening Post, 4 May 2011

LEGENDARY Mansfield Town Wembley-winning captain George Foster reckons Duncan Russell is the right man to lead the Stags next season.


The current Stags boss's deal runs out after this weekend's FA Trophy final against Darlington, meaning it could be his last game in charge.

Chairman John Radford and the rest of his new-look board will make a decision on Russell's future in the close-season, also taking into consideration the club's league form, where they finished in mid-table.

But Foster, who is likely to be at Wembley to see the Stags play on that stage for the first time since he lifted the Freight Rover Trophy in 1987, has faith in Russell to be a success – if he is given the right finance.

"I believe that if the chairman invests, then Duncan Russell and (assistant manager) Paul Hall would spend the money wisely," said Foster.

"I know Duncan from when we were both at Wolves and the kind of calibre he has.

"I think he works very well with the players and he wants everything done in the right way. He would be an excellent man for the job.

"But the club does need to spend money if they are going to get out of the division because it is very competitive."

Russell took over at the end of November, initially in a caretaker capacity, after David Holdsworth left following a 2-1 defeat at Forest Green Rovers.

He was subsequently given the role on a full-time basis, where he has led Mansfield to FA Trophy victories over Worksop, Newport, Alfreton, Chasetown and Luton.

Foster added: "Duncan has done very well to get the team to Wembley and I'm sure he'll enjoy leading them out.

"That has probably affected the league programme and the way they have finished in that and he has had a few injury problems to contend with as well."


Stags striker Connor seeks happy ending to difficult season
Evening Post

PAUL Connor believes a Mansfield Town Wembley win would be the perfect end to one of the club's most difficult seasons.


The Stags were struggling financially at the start of the season before John Radford took control and said he would immediately inject £250,000 to stabilise the club.

In November, David Holdsworth left after a 2-1 defeat at Forest Green, leaving Mansfield under the caretaker managership of Duncan Russell, who later took over on a permanent basis.

And a few weeks later, the club were rendered temporarily homeless by landlord Keith Haslam as he re-possessed Field Mill over unpaid rent.

The off-the-field battle for the club's ground, which is set for court, has continued to dominate the headlines.

Connor, who is optimistic he can shake off a calf injury to lead the line, admits it has sometimes been difficult in those circumstances. But he feels all those problems would be forgotten with an FA Trophy final victory over Darlington.

"This match seems a million miles away from the first round game against Worksop, especially with the uncertainty around the club at the time," he said.

"Wembley was the last thing you were thinking about then.

"I think it's even more of an achievement to have got to Wembley because of what has been going on."

The FA have ruled Luke Medley and Mark Preece ineligible for the game


Stags skipper Murray determined to make most of second chance
Evening Post

WINNING at Wembley would mean so much to Adam Murray – because it was an opportunity he thought had passed him by.


Having been around in senior football for more than a decade, the 29-year-old is well aware that it is rare to be with a club when they earn the right to play at the world's most football stadium.

That happened for the central midfielder last season when his Oxford United team-mates took on York City in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final, where the Us emerged 3-1 victors.

But the victory was personally soured for Murray because he played no part, having been sidelined by a back injury.

Fortunately for the former Derby man, though, Wembley trips have been like buses for him, with none coming along and then two in as many seasons.

In an altogether kinder twist of fate, he is set to return to put right his heartbreak of 12 months ago by taking to the famous Wembley turf.

"Last year was emotional for me," said Murray. "When you get to Wembley it's a massive thing. I was captain of Oxford but then when we got there I missed out.

"It should have been one of the greatest days of my life but instead it was one of the worst.

"Even though people try to get you involved on the day, it's not the same and you feel like a spare part.

"To go back this year and play after what happened last year would be fantastic.

"I just thought that maybe my chance had gone, especially as my career is moving on, so to get back there within a year is something I never expected.

"If I'm being honest, I thought I had missed the boat, but luckily enough I'm here again this year with Mansfield and I can do the whole experience as a player."

As skipper, Murray has the honour of leading the team out and, if they are triumphant, lifting a winners' trophy.

And there is nothing he would like better than to emulate legendary skipper George Foster – who held aloft the Freight Rover Trophy back in 1987 after the Stags beat Bristol City in that memorable penalty shoot-out.

Murray said: "For me personally I like the responsibility of being captain and to lead the team out at a venue like Wembley will be a proud moment.

"Everybody knows this club is close to my heart, which makes it even more important to me to be walking the boys out.

"It's 24 years since Mansfield were last here and that is a long, long time and when you look at the last two or three years, the fans haven't really had much to shout about so it makes the occasion even bigger.

"It's up to the boys who go out there on Saturday to give the fans something to sing and shout about and send them home happy. Hopefully it will be the start of a lot of success to come.

"It is a big incentive as well to be the one to go and lift the trophy. It's been hard to block it out, as professional as we have tried to be.

"I have been thinking about walking up the steps and lifting the trophy because as a kid it is something every footballer dreams of. If they don't then they are lying or they don't love the game as much as me."

Murray is also keen to secure victory over Darlington to earn him the respect of the kids he regularly teaches at a soccer school in the town.

He knows his pupils would love to be in the position he finds himself.

"It's the best place to play football and I used to think as a kid that if you played there you were awesome!" said Murray.

"Walking up to the stadium makes you shiver. It's an amazing place.

"If you ask any kid – and I have asked my kids when I'm coaching – what there dreams are, 90 per cent will play at Wembley. I'd love to go back there with a few pictures of me holding the trophy.

"But I think a lot of them will be here, especially from the Mansfield school because a lot of them are Mansfield fans."


Glenn Hoddle could be back at Wembley – to cheer on the Stags
Evening Post

WEMBLEY was a special place for Glenn Hoddle with both England and Spurs – and now he could be back there to cheer on Mansfield Town!


Just a few months ago, Stags' versatile full-back Dan Spence was out in Spain at the former midfield magician's soccer academy following his release by Championship club Reading.

The facility is designed to get players back on their feet and ready for a second crack at the professional game.

And in Spence's case it could hardly have worked out better.

He signed for manager Duncan Russell and the Stags until the end of the season in the January transfer window.

Just a few months later, the dream outcome of his spell at Field Mill could be running out at Wembley to face Darlington in the FA Trophy final at the world's most famous football stadium.

It is an honour that Hoddle – who scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 1982 FA Cup final against QPR and a veteran of 53 England caps – has experienced many times before.

And having seen Spence 'graduate' from his school back into the full-time game, the former England boss could well be back at Wembley to see how his former pupil gets on.

"It would be amazing to play at Wembley, as is the case for any player, and it is a great achievement by the club to get to the final and have this opportunity," said Spence.

"For me, it's a weird story because I was released and playing out in Spain six months ago and was not a professional.

"Now I'm back in the professional game with the prospect, if selected, of playing at Wembley and I can't really believe it.

"It would be great to see Glenn Hoddle there watching on and encouraging me.

"If he does make it, hopefully Glenn will be supporting Mansfield with me playing for them!

"I have been to Wembley twice – once to the old Wembley and once to the new one.

"I went to Arsenal v Barcelona for my tenth birthday in 1998 and really enjoyed it.

"I also went to an FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea and it's always been a terrific stadium, new and old, and to play there would be out of this world.

"The lads who went down for the press day came back saying how good the pitch, changing rooms and everything else was down there. I just hope I am involved on the day."

Another one keen to follow Spence and Mansfield's progress is legendary former Stags defender George Foster.

It was he who lifted the Freight Rover Trophy when the club beat Bristol City on penalties the last time they appeared at the famous venue back in 1987.

Spence said: "George is the chief scout and it was him who took me over to the Glenn Hoddle school in the first place for a trial.

"He made the first move after he must have seen me playing in the Reading reserve side. I have had some great encouragement from George and he is a good guy.

"I'm sure I will speak to him again in the lead up to the game for some tips, as he should know.

"And with his past history with the club, I know who George will be supporting!"

Spence's debut for Mansfield came in the FA Trophy replay 2-1 victory at local rivals Alfreton Town.

He also played in the quarter-final and semi-final wins over Chasetown and Luton before being ruled out with injury.

"When I did the hamstring I was out for around four weeks," said Spence.

"Even though I was out for a while. I never thought it was too serious. I knew that a bit of rest and treatment would see me right and I would be fit in time (for Wembley).

"I was back available for a few games earlier this month, but there was no room for me at the time and the lads were playing well.

"But I'm happy to be back in the side now and hopefully I can stay fit now for Wembley.

"I feel for other lads who have not made it having got back like Kevin Sandwith, who will miss the final, especially because he did so much to get us there.

"But injuries happen in football and we can't afford to dwell on it too much. There is still plenty of competition for places at the back from the other lads who are available."

One welcome return to the fold after a length spell on the sidelines is goalkeeper Alan Marriott. The popular number one has missed a large chunk of the season with a hip problem and then a broken finger but has been back for the final two league games against Gateshead and Bath City.

Spence said: "It is a massive bonus to have Alan Marriott back after being out for such a long time because he is a quality goalkeeper.

"From a personal point of view I have not seen all that much of him because I didn't sign until January and he was out at that point.

"But I have seen what he can do in training and you want your best players fit.

"Experience is always vital in these big games and Mazza has plenty of that, which will help us in the changing room as well as out on the pitch."

Out-of-contract at the end of the season, Spence knows the big match is the perfect occasion to showcase his talent.

"There will be a lot of management from different clubs there as well as our own," said Spence.

"They will all be looking at things for next season and nothing is for certain.

"You can't be relying on everyone giving contracts out, so it is a stage to impress.

"But I'm enjoying my time at Mansfield and if I am in the mind of the manager for next season, then I would be happy to sit down and talk to him about it."

Whatever happens now for Spence, you suspect Hoddle will be glowing with pride should his one-time protégé get to play under the Wembley arch


Why May 24 1987 is a day Stags fans will never forget
Evening Post, 3 May 11

IT may be almost 24 years ago now, but May 24 1987 is a day long-standing Mansfield Town supporters still cherish dearly.


Today, talking to the Stags' heroes of that sunny Sunday afternoon, it is clear it is also permanently etched in their memory banks too.

On their first-ever visit to Wembley Stadium, Mansfield captured their first piece of major silverware – the Freight Rover Trophy.

But they had to do it the hard way, needing extra-time and then penalties to seal victory in front of 58,586 spectators.

The Mansfield Town class of 2010-11 head down to London this Saturday, hoping to emulate their predecessors by winning at the home of English football when they contest the FA Trophy final against Darlington.

And, as players from the 1986-87 season recall, there is no better experience than playing at Wembley – even if it is now under a giant arch rather than the old twin towers.

Mansfield clinched their Freight Rover Trophy final date with a two-legged Northern Area final victory over Chester City.

The Stags won the first leg at a packed Field Mill with goals in each half from Ian Stringfellow and Keith Cassells.

And, roared on by 3,500 travelling fans at Sealand Road, Stags went down to an early Chester goal but withstood tremendous pressure to hang on and win 2-1 on aggregate.

The full-time whistle brought memorable celebrations at the ground and on the way home.

Goalkeeper Kevin Hitchcock said: "It's not every day that you get to Wembley and we certainly had a group of lads who knew how to celebrate – and a manager (Ian Greaves) who would join in as well!"

George Foster (central defender and captain) said: "Ian Greaves laid it down in no uncertain terms in the lead up to the final that our places were at stake.

"He said he wouldn't be picking the team for the final necessarily on the basis of those who got us there in the semi. He said we had to go out and prove ourselves in the league games we had left.

"So there was an element of fear among the players that they wouldn't get picked, which kept our performance levels high."

As part of the build up to the big day, Mansfield had a go at the in-vogue Wembley song, recorded at a studio in Nottingham.

'Mansfield Magic' is still played from time to time at Field Mill today, even if some of the singing left a little to be desired . . .

Mansfield's preparations were meticulous and they travelled down on the Saturday for the match the next day.

Foster: "Ian Greaves was a top manager. He had managed at the top level and he left no stone unturned in our preparation, which meant we went to the ground the day before.

"It was the first time I had ever been and it was just great.

"I think it helped settle the players, I know it did me. It made me feel better because I had already been there."

Tony Kenworthy (defender): "The night before the game Ian Greaves sat down with my room-mate Keith Cassells and me and we had a couple of beers.

"That probably wouldn't happen these days, but it helped us all relax.

"We were supposed to train the day before but we didn't because the place where we were going wasn't up to scratch.

"Ian said he would never forgive himself if one of us got injured, so he just let us rest up instead."

Hitchcock: "I didn't go to the ground before with the rest of the players because Ian let me be best man at my mate's wedding and then meet up with the team later at the hotel.

"I made sure I didn't abuse it and have any drinks because it was fantastic of the manager to let me go to the wedding in the first place."

Finally, the big day arrived with almost 60,000 in attendance. Mansfield were taking on Bristol City, one of the stronger sides in Division Three who had finished 16 points above the Stags and just one point outside the play-off spots.

Mark Kearney (midfielder): "On the way to Wembley, we came around a corner and saw a pub that was jammed full of Mansfield fans with their flags and colours.

"It was a carnival atmosphere and like that all the way in to Wembley. Seeing all those fans was memorable and something that sticks with you.

"We were going up against Bristol City, who were a good side at that time and I think had missed out on the play-offs.

"We didn't know how they were going to react to that, whether they would be like a wounded animal.

"They had people like Joe Jordan, Rob Newman, David Moyes and (later Stag) Gordon Owen in their side and Keith Curle was on their bench."

Billy Dearden (coach): "I think we took about 23,000 fans down on the day, which was a terrific achievement.

"We were the underdogs, no doubt. They were the favourites and I think they took about 30,000 to the game, so it made for a big crowd."

Foster: "I remember how exciting it was in the dressing room before we went out and the greeting we got when we walked out, which was terrific.

"I was a very proud man, not only for my club and myself, but also for my parents, wife and children."

Tony Lowery (midflelder): "Once you got to the ground, you knew you would be devastated to lose.

"We had a decent record against Bristol City in the league that season. They were favourites but we fancied our chances."

On a bright, sunny day the match reached half-time goalless, but it was Mansfield who drew first blood early in the second period.

Keith Cassells broke away down the left and whipped in a low cross that saw Kevin Kent shoot past Keith Waugh and put the Stags one up.

But, with just two minutes left, Bristol City pulled level with a strike from Glyn Riley, sending the game into 30 minutes of extra-time.

Kearney: "I honestly thought we were going to win once Kenty had put us in front.

"Stringy (Ian Stringfellow) hit the crossbar and I had a chance that I still think 'What if?' about now because if I'd hit it right I could be saying I scored at Wembley. I suppose I still did in the penalty shoot out.

"The game got stretched and they had to come out at us a bit more and that is what helped them get their equaliser which I remember as being a bit of a scramble."

Dearden: "I thought Kevin's goal might win it for us, but you never know in a game of football.

"It was disappointing when they equalised but the good thing was the lads kept going at it and didn't let their heads drop."

Foster: "When they scored, I remember it went very quiet, not just on the pitch with us, but in the stands as well.

"I tried to tell the lads we hadn't come that far to lose and credit to them all because they responded again in extra time."

Kenworthy: "Conceding a goal like that near the end of the game was hard to take because we knew we had to do it all over again, but we had some decent pros and we knew how to respond."

Hitchcock: "We had our chances – Mark Kearney had a great one but didn't take it. Mind you, looking back now, that is probably a good thing because we would have never heard the end of it!"

With no further scoring in extra-time, the destiny of the 1987 Freight Rover Trophy was to be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Things did not initially go well for Mansfield, as their second kick, taken by Cassells, was saved.

Kearney: "We had played Bristol a few weeks before in a league game at Field Mill and I had scored a penalty in a 2-2 draw.

"That affected me when I came to take the first penalty at Wembley. My favourite way to go was to the keeper's left and my right, but when I was walking up and I was thinking about it I decided to go for the other side.

"I didn't feel nervous at all – I was too shattered because of the big pitch and the fact it had rained the day before and we had played extra-time.

"It was only a few days later that I thought how horrible it would have been to miss in a major final like that.

"It was a good job because Keith (Waugh, City goalkeeper) dived to his left. In fact, I don't think he had a strategy for each kick but just dived left for them all, which is why he saved Keith Cassells' kick. I did fear the worst at that point."

Dearden: "I think it was the first ever penalty shoot-out at Wembley.

"I felt sorry for Keith when he had his penalty saved. He was arguably our best player, a tremendous pro, who did well for us. In fact, he had a lot to do with us getting there in the first place."

Lowery: "I think a few of the lads couldn't watch all of the kicks because you know what is at stake. Mansfield had never won anything that big."

However, the doubters had reckoned without the excellence of goalkeeper Hithcock, who took centre stage to stop consecutive penalties from David Moyes and Gordon Owen.

Kearney: "It was Hitchy's size nine-and-a-halves that got to work – I think they ended up naming a fanzine after that!

"That was the kind of situation he revelled in because he was a very confident lad. We were confident he would make saves because he had so much belief in himself."

Dearden: "You could always tell Hitchy was going to go on to bigger and better things and I think we got something like £250,000 for him when he went to Chelsea, which was a massive amount of money at that time."

Foster: "Emotions were up and down in the penalty shoot-out. Kevin Hitchcock was absolutely magnificent at saving penalties.

"When we practiced them in training, it was really difficult to beat him.

"I had big faith in him, even when we missed I knew he would pull us out of trouble."

Hitchcock: "I was really confident in myself when it came to the penalties. I used to study what a lot of players would do.

"But at the same time it was also about guesswork and instinct. I wasn't really worried when Keith Cassells missed because I always felt I would save at least one."

It all came down to Tony Kenworthy to try to win the cup for the Stags with their sixth penalty.

Kenworthy: "I was the penalty taker for Sheffield United but the trouble was I used to play their with Bristol's keeper, Keith Waugh.

"When we were deciding who would take them, I didn't fancy one, so the five were picked but Ian said I had to take the sixth if it got that far and I was fine with that.

"I watched the penalties with Neil Whatmore, who had started the game but was substituted.

"I hadn't realised, but he said the keeper had dived to his left every time. He was saying I should just lob it down the middle, but I didn't fancy that!

"As I walked up I was just concentrating on getting a good connection.

"I decided to put it towards the left corner, the opposite way to which Keith had been diving, even though I preferred to put my penalties in the other corner.

"As I was about to strike it I could see he was going the wrong way, so I just kept going with it and luckily it went in."

Foster: "The amount of pressure Tony was under for that winning kick was huge. I wouldn't have fancied it, but he was probably the coolest man in the stadium."

Lowery: "It was amazing when Tony scored. I just think sometimes it is meant to be."

Kenworthy's winner sparked wild celebrations first on the pitch, then in the dressing room, back to the hotel for an evening function and then an open-top bus tour back in Mansfield on the Monday.

Kearney: "They had the biggest bath in the world and we ended up in there with the trophy. I think we got to bed about six in the morning.

"Then it was back to Mansfield for the bus parade. It was then that we got to see how much it meant to everyone."

Dearden: "As you can imagine, we drank a bit! That was the way Greavesy was – he was always happy to reward the lads when they'd done well."

Foster: "The first thing I thought about as I walked up the steps to receive the trophy was all the famous people that had walked up there before me.

"I thought about Bobby Moore going up there to collect the World Cup in 1966.

"People could say it was a lower division tournament, but when you are in a final and you are walking up those steps to pick up a trophy, you are a very, very proud man.

"It was something that I would like every footballer to experience once during their careers.

"I think that day and the day we beat Rochdale 2-1 when I was manager were the two best days of my football career – and they were both with Mansfield."

Hitchcock: "It was the first time I had been to Wembley, so it was great to play a major part and one of my best memories.

"We had lost to Wigan on penalties two seasons before, so it was sweet to win that way, especially being a London boy.

"All my friends and family were there for the day. It was a fantastic experience and party, not just that night but at the civic reception in Mansfield the next day as well."

Lowery: "The celebrations were unbelievable. I think they went on for about a week!

"We were getting crowds of about 3,000 to 4,000 for league games but it seemed everyone turned out for Wembley and to welcome us back."


Darlington Cooper unhappy with Austin decision
bluesqfootball.com, Monday, May 02, 2011

Darlington manager Mark Cooper faces a real defensive crisis after it emerged that defender Kevin Austin won't be allowed to take part in the FA Trophy Final.


The Quakers have just one fit centre-back at their disposal, and Cooper was looking to plug the gap by recalling Austin from his loan spell at Blue Square Bet North play-off contenders Boston United.

However, Cooper has been informed by the Football Association that he will not be able to field the centre-back in their FA Trophy Final clash with Mansfield.

Cooper told The Northern Echo: "We sent Kev out on loan to keep him fit because he wasn't playing and we are paying the majority of his wages.

"We wanted to recall him but the FA said we could only play him in league games and not the final.

"We appealed against the decision and they said that because he wasn't at our club for the semi-final he can't play in the final.

"I was aware that you couldn't sign players after the semi-final, but Kev is already our player.

"That rule is in place to stop a team signing a player in time for the final, but Kev is already our player and we were paying him.

"So I've told the FA that we're going to stop paying him and the FA can pay him instead because effectively we've been told he's not our player. They've no answer to that."



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