All this way for something

Being a football supporter has its challenges, the most noticeable being the “long away trip”. This season we have more than we are used to – instead of getting one every 2/3 months, it’s more like every 2/3 weeks! After a hard week’s work, what you crave most on a Saturday morning is a lie-in, so hats off to those who, like me, awoke at 5am (maybe earlier if you live further away from the ground) to make the long trip down to Lewes. I can’t think of anything better than standing outside Field Mill at 7am, freezing cold waiting for the coach to arrive!

Ever since I started attending Stags away games I have used the excellent service provided by the SSA, and it’s thanks to them that I have met so many people who have become close friends. Every year I meet someone new, and I hope this continues. Imagine spending eight hours sat on a coach where nobody spoke to each other. Of course, not everyone knows each other, but the “regulars” always do their best to make conversation and make people feel welcome – even when we have travelled for hours and hours and been hammered 3-0, people still get home smiling.

The ground at Lewes got the thumbs up from the ref.The trip to Lewes was no different. We stood around in the cold waiting for news to filter through regarding the pitch inspection – and amazingly the game was on, although apparently the referee wanted to call the game off (I’m told Lewes officials begged, claiming they couldn’t afford another postponement. I certainly wouldn’t have fancied travelling down on a Tuesday night!) We boarded the coach, paid our money and set off!

Conversation wandered from one thing to another – even this blog got a mention! The main topic was the amount of new players and the question of whether they could do the job for us. The other topic was one of reminiscence – only a year ago to the very day were we playing host to Premiership team Middlesbrough in front of not only a packed Field Mill but a wide audience of BBC TV viewers! Now we were going to play the team we beat 3-0 in the first round in a league game!

At the services we bumped into the York City fans, who were playing Eastbourne, our opponents next Saturday! We didn’t get much conversation out of them, maybe because we have played them four times already this year and we still have to play them at home in the BSP.

When we arrived at Lewes it was clear why they needed the game to be played – cash flow had stopped and by the end of the day we were almost heroes, apparently filling their bar with cash and drinking them dry. At least 250 Stags fans bumped up the attendance to 500+ – the lowest attendance I have ever been part of. I say almost heroes, as we didn’t let them have any points. Debutant Paul Mayo scored a great free-kick and looks good for the future.

Now all that was left to do was say our goodbyes to the friendly Lewes folk and head back to Mansfield for some much-needed sleep. Hopefully we’ll get another three points on Tuesday night against Rushden & Diamonds and do the same next Saturday morning.

Sometimes the trip home is uneventful, but this one wasn’t: after a service stop the bus failed to reverse and needed to be pushed. Oh well, just another Mansfield Town away day!

We still got home smiling!

Craig (Rainworthstag14)

Mansfield Town Football Club, always with a smile”

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