My Matchday - 241 Field Mill

Mansfield Town 0v2 Gateshead
Blue Sq. Premier
Saturday 6th February 2010

Mansfield lies on the River Maun, a former mining town and the largest market town in the county of Nottinghamshire.
A local church formed Mansfield Wesleyans FC in 1897 playing games on Kate Moody Lane for three years before switching to public playing fields on Stanhope Street.
The club’s next home base from 1903 on Newgate Lane was purchased by the local railway, which meant another move, this time to the aptly named ‘The Prairie’ at Radcliffe Gate from 1912.
The Stags finally found a permanent home when purchasing Field Mill in 1919 from the Duke of Portland, who leased the land with the agreement that the land must always be used for sporting purposes. By this time the club were established as Mansfield Town, which had infuriated rivals Mansfield Mechanics, who themselves were in pursuit of adding the Town suffix to their name.
Originally a cotton mill, football had been played on Field Mill as far back as 1861, making it one of the worlds oldest continuously used football grounds. The original tenants Greenhalgh formed from the local cricket club, cricket being its sole purpose from 1840, then Mansfield Amateurs followed by Mansfield Mechanics both shared with Mansfield Town Cricket Club from 1912.
The first stand was built on the west side in 1922, a small wooden structure which stood until 1959, when the club purchased a steel framed stand from Hurst Park racecourse in south London. The structure was built behind the original stand with changing rooms, offices and club lounges added. The original stand was then demolished and replaced with a standing paddock at the front of the new stand before finally opening in 1966.
In February 2001 the new West Stand was opened which is a large two-tier cantilever stand with a capacity of 5,500 which completed the £6.5m redevelopment of Field Mill. The stand also includes the Sandy Pate bar and sponsorship lounges.
The North Stand terrace was covered in 1956 with funds from the Supporters Club and along with the open Quarry Lane End terrace were replaced with new seated stands behind each goal in August 2000. Both stands are similar in stature, the North Stand is the away end, decked out with 1,910 blue seats with STAGS picked out in yellow. The Quarry Lane End is slightly larger with an extra 73 seats, with mainly yellow seats with MTFC picked out in blue. The players tunnel emerges from the nearside corner of the stand.
The Bishop Street Stand became the main stand when built prior to the Second World War, with 1,120 bench seats taking across from the West Stand.The stand is now condemned and cordoned off, only the players dugouts are at this side with an electric scoreboard on the old paddock terrace. There’s plans to redevelop the stand which would include a TV studio and gantry.
The overall capacity stands at 9,990 with the club’s record attendance of 24,479 against neighbours Nottingham Forest for an FA Cup 3rd round tie in January 1953.

As a young boy the Newcastle United 1973-74 side became the football club I fell in love with. A side which embarked on a thrilling FA Cup run which ended in a predictable Wembley embarrassment against Liverpool’s Shankly, Keegan and Co. A result and performance which the first time in my football fan career, ended in tears.
On my bedroom wall was a team picture of the United squad, amongst Supermac, Bobby Moncur, Hibbitt and Tudor, was one player who stood out amongst the rest of the striped shirts.
Standing in between Craig and Cassidy, was a big strapping lad with shoulder length strawberry blonde hair and matching moustache, much like a 70’s German porn star.
I knew all about the United squad in that photograph, except for this one particular player that I had no knowledge of apart from his name.
Gordon Hodgson was born in Newcastle and signed for his hometown club as a teenager in 1971. Shortly after the Cup Final horror show and limited to only 9 appearances over three years he signed for Mansfield Town .
Gordon is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders in Town’s history. In his first s
eason with the club he played a starring role in The Stags promotion as Division Four champions. In 1975-76 he skippered the club as promotion was again achieved as league winners reaching Division Two for the first time in the clubs history.
Over four years Hodgson made 184 league appearances, missing only two games because of suspension and notching 23 goals from midfield before moving on to Oxford United in 1978.
Gordon went on to play for Peterborough United, before hanging up his boots, swapping the blue of The Posh for the blue of the police force.
Gordon Hodgson died in April 1999 at the tender age of 46, the big Geordie will always be held in high regard with the Stags fans, playing a decisive part in the most memorable time in the club’s history.

Mansfield Town’s 77 year stay in the Football League ended in 2008 and like many clubs relegated into the Blue Square Premier, a quick return has proven difficult, and in turn, clubs promoted into the Conference find it equally tough to survive.
Mansfield currently lie in fourth position took on a Gateshead side who are an example of a club finding it difficult to adapt to the big league. However that struggle may be about to change, as The Tyneside’s produced their best performance of the season to upset a large anticipating home support.
The return of Carl Jones in defence from long term injury, along with January recruits Andy Ferrell in midfield and striker Brian Wake has seen the backbone of the team strengthened, along with wingers Winn and Sinclair added to the squad.
It was one of the new signings Brian Wake which gave Gateshead a dream start in the 5th minute, the former Morton striker picked up the ball in the middle of the park and ran unchallenged to the edge of the box, his shot took a deflection which looped high over the stranded Marriott.
Gateshead created more chances to extend the lead, Wake twice went close while Armstrong saw a close rage effort blocked by a defender. Heed keeper Farman wasn’t called into action until first half injury time, easily dealing with a Jake Speight shot from the edge of the box.
The consensus amongst the media and Mansfield supporters was that they’d turn the game around in the second half and go on to take the three points. That theory was diminished after only three second half minutes. Wake again lead the Stags defence a merry dance before smashing a right foot shot into the far corner to double the lead.
Mansfield had spells of pressure to try and get a foothold back into the game. Challinor’s long range effort was tipped onto the crossbar, then a Speight shot was blazed over.
Town’s best opportunity came in the 82nd minute, a mad scramble in the penalty area saw a blocked shot fall to Gary Silk who’s effort was pushed onto the bar, the rebound fell to Jon Shaw but his close range header was desperately cleared to safety.
The Tynesiders weathered the late storm and deservingly held on the claim a morale boosting win, which could turn out to be the big turning point of their season.

Picture courtesy of 100FgC#26 Alan Price

This was actually Gateshead’s closest Saturday away fixture of the season, which meant we had a full bus on, leaving at a reasonable time of 10.30am and arriving with enough time to spare for me to tick of the two ’Spoons pubs in the town.
This game caught the imagination of the local public as the club launched a special ‘pay what you like’ initiative, which means what it says on the tin, pay whatever you like to gain admission, be it 1p, £1 or a tenner, the choice was yours.
The plan was a success, as the Mansfield public turned out in large numbers giving Field Mill its biggest gate for over eight years. The big turnout meant the game had to be delayed for 20 minutes, with a section of the North Stand opened to feed the demand.
When I say the plan was a success, I mean the attendance of 7,261 (74 away fans) was a great achievement, however the fact that Mansfield were comprehensively beating will not encourage that casual supporter to return t’ Mill in a hurry.
The reason that this particular fixture was chosen is The Stags chairman was expecting an easy win for the home side. The big crowd would have enjoyed a goal fest, gone home happy seeing their team win and be keen to return again, however the boo’s ringing out at half time and on the full time whistle means this ambitious scheme has basically gone tits up!
I entered the ground via the Kevin Bird Suite at the back of the West Stand, the staff at Field Mill made me feel welcome, special thanks to Mark in the press box who looked after us all, my only complaint would be the lack of filling in the half time sandwiches! I also heard and spoke to reporters working for local radio, who gave an unbiased opinion on the game, giving full credit on a well deserved victory for Gateshead.
Unfortunately I have to report that the ’pay what you like’ gave good reason for the local crackerjack element to come out to play at a cost of only a penny.
Coins were thrown towards the Gateshead end from both inside and outside the stand with one lady supporter hit on the head, the father of one of the players was hit with a bottle, while a Heed supporter was set upon and punched by a gang of five thugs in the toilets. To cap it all off on our way out of the town a brick was thrown at our coach, luckily the person taking aim had a throw like a girl and missed the windows, his feeble effort ending up hitting the roof of the bus.
It’s a shame that a small minority spoils it for everyone else. I was warned by several people beforehand not to go into the town centre and be very cautious of the stewards at the ground.
While I appreciate what the club is doing in generating interest and extra home support, the matter of the safety and well being of away supporters has to be looked into. Visiting Field Mill needs to be a pleasant experience, otherwise away fans will be put off and the likes of myself, along with my fellow members of the Heed Army won’t be in too much of a hurry to return.

Matchday stats
MTFC 0 GFC 2 (Wake 5,48)
Admission:1p and above
Report from On The Road


Dickie said...

A very well written report that was both enjoyable and informative.
Mansfield Town has a long history and the piece was very well researched.
I hope that the many Matchday Reports will be published in book form one day.

fitba daft said...

Enjoyed your report as usual would interesting to find out just how much Mansfeld took in at the turnstiles.

Pliny Harris said...

Halifax Town did the same thing at one point close to our demise. We lost 6–1 at home to Kidderminster in front of a shade above 1000, as far as I can remember.