These Are the Days

As the majority of you, my loyal readers will know, I go through certain patterns before an away game. One of these involves adding new music to my MP3 player for the journey ahead. A few weeks ago I was adding yet more music when I came across an artist called Jamie Cullum (he appeared on the Jonathon Ross show – another one of my pre-match rituals!). One of his tracks is called “These are the days” and whilst struggling to write this week’s blog, I heard this song and suddenly an idea popped into my head.

I was struggling to write because was once again I was involved with the commentary on Mansfield 103.2, and was asked to travel to the game with the station’s MD and my co-commentator TonyDelahunty – meaning I was not involved with all the banter between what is a tight bunch of friends. The Stags fan inside of me was sucked out, mile by mile. This causes havoc for me on a Sunday morning when writing the ‘Stags Fan Blog’ – how can I possibly do that when not feeling like a Stags fan!

Crawley3

The Crawley staff check the pitch following a huge downpour before kick-off.

I debated not writing an entry at all – but I don’t like letting people down, which why I was so relieved when I heard the above mentioned song – it was these lyrics in particular which gave me the idea. ‘These are the days that I’ve been missing, Give me the taste, and give me the joy of summer wine. Sometimes when the nights are closing early, I remember you and I start to smile. These are the days of endless dreaming.’

Even being away from them all for a short trip like Altrincham hurt me. I’m sure you’ll remember me telling you what it felt like. I had some relief with that trip as I travelled with my dad, but this trip to Crawley was a new kettle of fish- I was alone, with no family or friends with me – nobody who shared the same memories as me. I don’t mind admitting – how ever daft it sounds – that I felt afraid,-empty and lonely.

So many little but funny things happen on that coach – it hurt me to think I’d miss out on another classic moment. I remember a few seasons back when me and a friend created the ‘Boogie Bus’ even though the Stags had lost, the radio was blaring some classic tunes and to ‘up the spirits’ me and a friend who shall remain nameless randomly got up and started to dance – albeit badly, randomly and probably stupidly. I remember the time we were travelling back from another Stags defeat – singing along to Take That songs – renaming the group ‘Take TAT’ because of a wrong quiz answer someone had given on the way down! Signing classic hits as people got off the bus when dropped off near home. Winning away on Boxing Day – singing Jingle Bells and various other Christmas hits – Santa was a Stags fan! Going on a weekend away to Bristol, mid November and lying to the group making out the hotel owner was some sort of horrible witch! Celebrating a Stags win – laughing, joking, singing, dancing! Doing impressions of past managers, imitating the coach driver’s hatred of hot food on the coach!

I could get lost in these stories- there are so many I could get a book out of them. Maybe I will – watch this space! Back in Tony’s car, I was longing for a taste of this once more – the longer trips generally are the best for such classic moments. I’d often fall asleep on a Saturday night with a huge smile on my face because of this moments: it’s these days when you’re away from the gang that you have these endless days of dreaming.

Somner

Matt Somner's joy turned to dismay - sent off on his return to the side (Photo: Dan Westwell)

Enough! I hear you cry! Tell me about the Crawley game!

A game Stags headed into on the back of a great run, earning David Holdsworth manager of the month. Although Stags stumbled with a late equalizer in the last two games, results were still positive. David Holdsworth, clearly not pleased with performances, made changes to his side. Rob Duffy and captain Gary Mills missed out; Matt Somner and Blair Sturrock came into the fray- one of those choices caused some stir not just amongst the fans, but in the dressing room too.

Stags started brightly and showed the flair that has been missing over the past two weeks. Their dominance paid off – taking the lead on 11 minutes thanks to a Jake Speight ‘net buster’ from a yard. He told me afterwards that he just wanted to make sure it crossed the line! The lads kept Crawley at bay and even though the commentator in me is forcing my fingers to type that, Crawley did have their chances to equalize. In the second half Matt Somner was wrongly sent off for a second booking – neither of the two yellows he received were yellows, perhaps the ref needed to take a look at the conditions! So shortly after returning from suspension, Somner misses out again.

Crawley upped their game but Stags were not going to be ploughed into the mud, they kept going and earned themselves a free kick on the edge of the area following a quick break away – the most unlikely of sources popped up to score: Paul Heckingbottom curled the ball brilliantly round the wall to put the game safe.

Game over. Normally I’d be heading back to the coach singing and celebrating with my people. But once again I’d miss out and have to stay behind to do the post-match interviews with Tony. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy these, I just miss my mates! Three points makes the trip home easier and before I knew it I’d arrived home shattered. I sent a few ‘well done’ messages to players I have become friends with and headed to bed.

I received a text this morning asking if I enjoyed the game – as a fan, no I didn’t. As a commentator yes I did – but right here right now I am a fan – bring on Tuesday night’s FA Cup Replay: even if I’m in the commentary box, at least I’ll be surrounded by Stags fans!

Thanks for reading as always and I apologise if this blog seems to lack the thoughts of a fan! I must also thank one very special person for keeping me sane via text during the trip- I appreciate it greatly.

Craig

“Mansfield Town; these are the days of Mansfield Town!”

 P.S. To anyone who’s not heard the song- I suggest you get it via iTunes, it’s brilliant!

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