Travel Sickness.

Rob Duffy, Scored To Goals Vs Woking On Saturday, Photo By Craig Priest

Rob Duffy scored two goals Vs Woking on Saturday. Photo By Craig Priest

Well, it’s all over – at least away from Field Mill. No more away games in places we’ve never heard of until next year. No more early mornings and late nights, no more leaving Mansfield, no more shock results, no more travel sickness.

It seems a lifetime since that opening day back in August, in sunny Ebbsfleet! A 2-2 draw under old boss Billy McEwan and almost a totally different side: only three players from McEwan’s starting line-up at Ebbsfleet made it into new boss David Holdsworth’s starting line-up for the game at relegation threatened Woking. Aide Moses, Nathan Arnold & Gary Silk were the only survivors. The scoreline, however, ended up the same. I think even before the kick-off most fans would have taken a draw, given our recent form on the road.

At least this season’s final away game didn’t end in tears – we were not “down & out” this time around. The atmosphere this year was a little better – no doom and gloom no protests, just another day on the road supporting our beloved team.

Every other week when we play away I am always awake and ready to go, even to places I have never even heard of! Each week I hope to return with victory, return with a smile and a story to tell, OK sometimes I never return with victory or even the hint of a smile, but after last year I was used to that! I always return with a story, sometimes long sometimes short, but whereever I seem to go, there’s a story!

The opening day is one that sticks in my mind and not just because it was the opening day. I remember leaving Field Mill just like normal, with everyone discussing their summer holidays and talking about the “new look” at our club: new board, new manager, new players, new league! As I say all was normal until we pulled up outside Ebbsfleet’s ground: a main stand, a small car park and a massive sign over the home turnstile reading “Ebbsfleet Vs Mansfield Town; Conference match No.1.”

It hit home, we had arrived in the non-league, we had suffered relegation and must now face the consequences. The cold shiver returned. Onto the pub, again like normal to mingle with home fans and enjoy a pre-match beverage (lemonade for me, I was under age). There was a queue for the bar – nothing new there but it did appear there was one member of staff serving, apparently they expected us to bring no more than 50 fans! Well rather than die of thirst, a few of our fans jumped behind the bar to help out and probably double profits – again the Mansfield Town community spirit rose to the top. Into the ground – an uncovered large terrace that was much bigger on the inside than the outside (a bit like the TARDIS) and well presented, in a roundabout way! The new players applauded the fans, who in turn gave the familiar roar of “Yellllllloooooooooooowwwwwsssss” and the game began. At half time things were “back to normal” with us losing 2-0 – two defensive errors and a weak left-hand side had allowed them to punish us.

The second half was a different story, a spirited fight back with goals from Michael Blackwood (now on loan at Tamworth) and a late equaliser from Mark Stallard or Jason lee – no one was to sure then and they’re still not! Either way, it’s a point! Welcome to the Blue-Square Premier, enjoy your long season. I’ll never forget the game starting with sunshine, moving onto rain when we was losing, and then the return of the sun just as we scored. The weather, just like the football, inconsistent until the end. And what better way to end than how we started, with two errors, going behind, and equalising late on, a point on the road, the long road, the unsteady road, the Mansfield road.

OK so there was no real difference between the opening away game and the last, but there is between the managers, BM (Billy McEwan) managed to get a squad together in time for the season starting, thus avoiding automatic relegation just like Boston United a few seasons ago. For that I thank him, and for a while we did OK results wise, even reaching the top of the league (albeit for a very brief period – and that was quite possibly were things started to go wrong). Eventually BM departed and left fans looking worried again! In stepped David Holdsworth, and we saw the instant change – new players in, other players out, a new positive approach towards the football and the media. Our home form is much improved under Holdsworth and we are still unbeaten. Our away form seemed to pick up but after a while it took a blip and the point on Saturday will put Holdsworth’s mind at rest! I find Holdsworth more approchable and now I’ve seen them training, I’m happy. A fun session enjoyed by all, fans included, the club has finally got the tight family unit back. Two home games remaining, we must protect our record and I think everyone should pack into the Mill and go out on a high.

But for now, I must thank-you for reading week after week and must thank you for all your support and comments. Next week will possibly be the last blog of this season but see below for details of how to keep up to date during the summer. A final away day mention to Beth, who looked happy as Larry, skipping about counting the number of away fans who turned up at Woking! I think she did miss out one person because I never saw her count herself! Legend, see you soon. Craig (rainworthstag14) “Mansfield Town FC; just one more week!”

Stags Fan Blogger, Craig Pictured With Boss David Holdsworth On Thursday At The Open Training Session, Picture By Stacey Webb

Craig Priest With David Holdsworth, Photo By Stacey Webb

Enjoying the stags fan blog? You can now keep up to date with the life of a stags fan by visiting my new website, including links to the facebook page and the Mansfield Chad site. This page also includes a more detailed report about the reserves and the open training session. http://www.ambereyes.t83.net

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