I have a few Mansfield Town fans follow me on Twitter and they’ve often asked why I have so much disdain for them.
We’re close in terms of miles, but the rivalry isn’t two-way. I’m told they don’t care about us and I’m led to believe they find my dislike of them a little baffling.
One of the reasons I dislike them as I do is David Flitcroft and now he’s gone my anger towards the yellow and blue will dissipate somewhat. There’s still lots of reasons I don’t like the Stags, but he was a key reason.
I haven’t always felt this way towards them. Back when Adam Murray was in charge, and before that, I actually quite liked them. When we met it wasn’t so amiable, but I had no serious issues with them at all. I didn’t like the fact Alan Marriott played so many times for them, but respected the fact they gave him a good career after he was treated so badly by Peter Jackson.
I liked Mark Stallard who went there and obviously was delighted when we signed Matt Rhead. The simmering hatred that boils away in me now was reserved for Boston, Grimsby and a handful of others. Why? Their managers. That’s what turned me against the Stags.
I understand football rivalry. I’m not one to go out looking for fights on derby day, I much prefer to have some good-natured banter with opposition fans. If you go and watch a local League Two team, spend hard-earned money travelling the country and wear your colours with pride, you’re alright by me. If those colours are yellow, red or even black and white, we’re not so different. Football fans, proper football fans, are driven by the same thing and I refuse to dislike a person simply because of who they support. That’s madness.
I don’t like our local rivals, none of them, but would I rather we play Mansfield or Fleetwood next season? Obviously, that would be Mansfield. The same goes for Grimsby or Blackpool, Notts County or Rochdale. We live for the big matches in front of packed crowds and if I go away, I do like to be back before the clock strike ten.
Why the dislike of Mansfield? It started with Steve Evans, the same reason I disliked Boston, the same reason I disliked Crawley, Rotherham and anywhere else he slimes his way into. In my opinion he’s an awful man, a proven cheat with Boston and a man who goes against everything I like in football.
I’m not talking about his touchline antics, they’re part and parcel of the game. When the whistle blows I expect managers to be animated and vocal and although I think he goes too far sometimes, there are people who feel Danny does the same. What I find repugnant about Evans is his conduct outside of a game. He’s aggressive, rude, insulting and I’m led to believe a bully too. He’s only ever achieved success by buying it and when he turned up at Field Mill it gave me a reason to get mad.
When he left I had a sense of ‘you deserved that’ in my opinions, but thought perhaps Mansfield could redeem themselves. Instead, they went for Flitcroft, another manager I had little time for. It’s the post-match moaning I hate, labelling us ‘long ball’ and throwing toys out of the pram. They may as well have appointed Mark Cooper, he’s just the same. It’s never their fault, never. If Danny makes a balls up, he admits it. He’s done that before and I respect his honesty post-match.
Then came the EFL Trophy clash earlier this season. They didn’t have a game on the Saturday after and were able to field a strong side. That’s their prerogative and it’s not their fault the fixtures went that way. However, on the night I thought they tried to deliberately injure our players. I get that some Stags fans will laugh at that claim, but they were incredibly aggressive and I believe behind the scenes our staff felt that was the case too.
From then on I had zero respect for Flitcroft. Okay, I got caught up in the media’s attempt to create a rivalry, I admit that. I got angry on a podcast with him for comments he was pushed into by reporters, but I never had any respect for him. That changed when we drew 1-1 there and he was quite complimentary, but lets face it we were top and had been all season. What else could he say?
I also felt angry at them for the way we lost out on Tyler Walker and Jorge Grant, perhaps unfairly. Football is a business after all, but we were heavily linked with both and it’s fairly common knowledge that we’d almost agreed deals with both, before being blown out of the water by silly Stags offers. Both players will surely regret not coming to Sincil Bank and winning a trophy, but at the time it just cemented my dislike of Mansfield Town.
It’s odd because I actually feel for them now. I didn’t want them to go up, but I do worry for them next season. The new appointment is bold and if it works out then I’ll be happy for some of the fans who I speak to. Nicking David Flitcroft made them as bad as Peterborough for nicking Steve Evans, but this bold new move is one that I can understand and respect.
I chuckled at Mansfield when they failed to get promoted. I issued warnings about the spending and how it might backfire if the Radfords ever got bored or wanted to cut down their involvement. I wonder if this new appointment really is a bold move, designed for future success, or the early indications that backing is being withdrawn?
Whatever happens next, with David Flitcroft gone perhaps I can feel a little less negatively about the Stags. believe me, if Cooperman left Forest Green my feelings wouldn’t change one iota.
KEEP AN EYE OUT THIS EVENING FOR EXCITING NEWS ABOUT MY UPCOMING BOOK ‘SUITED AND BOOTED’, THE EAGERLY ANTICIPATED STORY OF MY TIME AS LINCOLN MASCOT POACHER THE IMP