It could have been a League One fixture last season, or even a League Two playoff final one at the end of the 2018-19 season (if the away goals ruling had counted in the semifinals, but to be fair, England are the ONLY country not using the away goals rule in two-legged playoffs). At the end of the 2018-19 season, the Stags for the third time were victims of the non-usage of away goals, had also been that in 2012 and 1995 but benefitted in 2004. The tale is of the opening game of the new season for the Stags, who entertain Tranmere at headquarters on Saturday.
This will also be the first Stags league game since March 7 last season when they won 2-1 at Northampton, who later went on to win the playoffs (after the season had been halted due to well-known reasons by now). On the other hand, Tranmere were on the up in League One in their relegation battle, winning three games in a row on the road, the last of those being at Blackpool on March 10. Later, Tranmere were relegated by virtue of points-per-games basis. But on the field, Tranmere might have survived.
Last season was also one of far too many off-the-field decisions regarding relegation. One victim were Wigan due to entering administration, and the Latics were relegated to League One, meaning Barnsley reprieve for the second time (the first being in 2012 when Portsmouth were docked points). In League Two, the worst side for a few seasons, Stevenage, eventually were reprieved due to several Macclesfield off-the-field-dealings, costing the Silkmen 17 points due to disciplinary cases and their place in League Two after two seasons.
By the way, the first League side to be reprieved were the Stags way back in the 1967-68, when they were spared relegation to the fourth tier when Peterborough, then finishing in ninth position, were demoted due to reasons off the field. Then, Tranmere finished one place and three points above the Stags.
Hopefully, the forthcoming season will see promotion and relegation decided on the field rather than off it. But already, Championship side Sheffield Wednesday have been docked a dozen points.
Yet the opener will mark Tranmere’s first visit på Mansfield since January 2019, when the Stags ran out easy 3-0 winners against a Tranmere side who had one player sent-off before half-time. But the then Stags line-up will differ vastly from the one the Stags will field on Saturday. From the then Stags line-up, only Benning, Sweeney and the unused sub Rose are still playing for the Stags, while Otis Khan, who came on in the second half, will be the next player to have played for the Stags as well as for Tranmere if he plays on Saturday (see more below)
When the sides played at Mansfield in April 2015, both sides were on extremely poor runs. Both sides had then lost five in a row at one stage during the run. The Stags had lost five prior to the Tranmere game, while Tranmere one month earlier had lost five in a row. A Reggie Lambe strike just before half-time was enough to all but secure the Stags’ stay in League Two, while for Tranmere, it was to be third of six straight reverses during the run-in. That poor run-in with one win and twelve defeats, many odd-goal ones, was enough to catapult Tranmere out of the FL following their relegation from League One the previous campaign.
Tranmere were to stay outside the FL for three seasons. Following their playoff final defeat against Forest Green in 2017, they came back the following term by overcoming Boreham Wood. Tranmere are maybe the only side to have won two consecutive playoff finals as they also won the 2018-19 League Two one against Newport.
One Stags player in the 2015 meeting between the sides, was to play for Tranmere in all their seasons outside the FL. The name: Richie Sutton, now at Altrincham, back in the Conf national this season, previously being the reprevie Kings of that league, reprieved for three consecutive seasons a little more than a decade ago.
And incredibly enough, the side who followed Tranmere out of the FL in 2015, Cheltenham, returned to League Two immediately after relegation. This is the fastest FL return of two sides relegated since two up, two down from the FL came into being before the start of the 2002-03 season, a campaign in which the Stags routed Tranmere 6-1 at home at current League One level on October 5, 2002.
The 2014-15 season was the first basement one for Tranmere for twenty-five years following promotion in 1989, then ending a ten-season stint in the fourth division. Since then, Tranmere spent a decade in the FL second tier from the 1991-92 season onwards and during that spell, they finished fourth in 1992-93, then fifth in each of the two following campaigns. During the same time, they finished League Cup runners-up in 2000 and reached the semi-final in 1994.
Tranmere’s visit to Mansfield in 2002 was not the only one in which the Prenton Park outfit had been hit for six. This had happened on three earlier occasions.
Here are the facts:
On March 10, 1956, the Stags routed Tranmere 6-0, on October 1, 1962, the Stags won 6-1 in the fourth division, three goals from Roy Chapman, and finally on February 27, 1971, the Stags won a third divison fixture 6-2 as one of the scorers in the legendary FA Cup tie against West Ham two years earlier, Dudley Roberts, ran riot and netted on four occasions. And since November 1, 1969, Tranmere have only won once at Mansfield, albeit with seven games being drawn. Twice, Tranmere have won three in a row at Mansfield, but from the 1950-51 season onwards, the Stags won eight home games in a row to a scoreline of 24 for, just 3 against. And the first-ever league game between the sides was played on April 22, 1933. Then, two goals from Fred Fisher were enough to secure a 2-0 victory. And the biggest home defeat is a 3-0 reverse on October 7, 1967 during a spell of six straight Stags third division defeats.
This season will also mark the EFL return for Barrow after 48 years (and oddly enough, they entertain Stevenage at home in their comeback game at Holker Street) and two new sides to preview, the Conf National playoff winners Harrogate Town and Bolton Wanderers, a PL side as recently as 2012 but have slid down the leagues due to similar reasons to those which sent Portsmouth from the PL to playing the Stags at One Call in just three years. And regarding Barrow, it will later this season be the first EFL game against the Stags for half a century (but the sides faced each other when the Stags played outside the EFL).
Played for both sides: James Alabi, Russell Allen, Andy Cook, Reg Cropper, Alec Gaskell, Verdi Godwin, Alec Gray, Kevin Gray, Chris Greenacre, Robert Hutchinson, David Kelly, Jim Lumby, Luke O'Neill, Iffy Onoura, Steve Peplow, Frank Perfect, Martin Riley, John Rowland, Jack Roy, Richie Sutton, Rob Taylor, John Thompson, Jock Weir, Keith Welch, Ryan Williams, Billy Yates. Jamie McGuire was on Tranmere's books in 2002-03 as a trainee without playing.
And if Otis Khan plays for Tranmere this weekend, he will become the next player who has appeared for both sides.
Home stats: P 38, W 18, D 11, L 9, GF 70, GA 37
Away stats: P 38, W 6, D 10, L 22, GF 40, GA 75
Season Home Date Away Date
1932-33 2-0 1933-04-22 0-3 1933-04-10 Div 3 (N)
1933-34 0-0 1933-08-28 2-3 1933-09-04 Div 3 (N)
1934-35 4-2 1935-04-19 0-3 1935-04-22 Div 3 (N)
1935-36 2-3 1935-09-28 2-4 1936-02-01 Div 3 (N)
1936-37 2-3 1937-02-06 2-0 1936-10-03 Div 3 (N)
1947-48 1-3 1947-09-06 1-0 1948-01-17 Div 3 (N)
1948-49 0-0 1949-02-19 0-1 1948-09-25 Div 3 (N)
1949-50 1-1 1950-02-18 1-2 1949-10-01 Div 3 (N)
1950-51 2-1 1951-01-10 1-2 1951-03-07 Div 3 (N)
1951-52 3-0 1952-03-29 1-1 1951-10-11 Div 3 (N)
1952-53 1-0 1952-08-30 0-1 1953-01-03 Div 3 (N)
1953-54 2-0 1953-12-19 5-2 1953-08-22 Div 3 (N)
1954-55 3-1 1954-11-13 1-2 1955-04-02 Div 3 (N)
1955-56 6-0 1956-03-10 0-1 1955-10-29 Div 3 (N)
1956-57 3-0 1956-09-08 1-3 1957-01-12 Div 3 (N)
1957-58 4-1 1958-03-22 2-1 1957-10-12 Div 3 (N)
1958-59 0-2 1959-03-14 2-2 1958-10-25 Div 3 (old)
1959-60 0-2 1960-04-30 2-4 1959-12-12 Div 3 (old)
1961-62 1-2 1961-11-18 0-2 1962-04-07 Div 4 (old)
1962-63 6-1 1962-10-01 1-5 1963-04-22 Div 4 (old)
1967-68 0-3 1967-10-07 1-1 1968-02-23 Div 3 (old)
1968-69 1-1 1968-08-31 1-2 1969-03-21 Div 3 (old)
1969-70 1-2 1969-11-01 1-1 1970-02-28 Div 3 (old)
1970-71 6-2 1971-02-27 1-4 1970-10-30 Div 3 (old)
1971-72 1-1 1972-01-22 2-2 1971-09-27 Div 3 (old)
1976-77 1-1 1976-09-18 0-4 1977-03-21 Div 3 (old)
1978-79 0-0 1978-11-13 2-1 1979-04-30 Div 3 (old)
1980-81 1-1 1980-10-06 0-1 1980-11-03 Div 4 (old)
1981-82 3-0 1982-04-17 2-2 1981-12-05 Div 4 (old)
1982-83 1-1 1983-04-16 0-3 1982-09-06 Div 4 (old)
1983-84 1-0 1983-09-17 0-1 1984-01-30 Div 4 (old)
1984-85 0-0 1984-11-03 0-0 1985-02-22 Div 4 (old)
1985-86 0-0 1986-04-29 2-1 1985-10-22 Div 4 (old)
1989-90 1-0 1990-03-24 1-1 1989-10-16 Div 3 (old)
1990-91 0-2 1991-04-27 2-6 1990-10-22 Div 3 (old)
2002-03 6-1 2002-10-05 1-3 2003-04-29 Div 2
2014-15 1-0 2015-04-14 0-0 2014-10-21 League Two
2018-19 3-0 2019-01-26 0-0 2018-08-21 League Two
1934-35 4-2 1934-12-08 2nd round at Field Mill
1971-72 2-2 1971-12-11 2nd round at Field Mill
1971-72 2-4 1971-12-15 2nd round replay at Prenton Park
2013-14 0-2 2013-08-06 1st round at Prenton Park
Stockholm, July 4, 2008, 15.00 GMT. Good news came, K.H. gone. March 1, 2012. Ground purchased.