Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Club focus -- Mansfield Town


Mansfield Town like a lot of British clubs in the nineteenth century came into being due to local God botherers wanting the local folk to keep away from the demon drink by embracing sport. From these values Mansfield Town were born as Mansfield Wesleyans in 1897. They later shortened the name to Mansfield Wesley in 1906, by the way. They finally became Mansfield Town in 1910 in a move that didn't go down well with their more successful local rivals of the time, Mansfield Mechanics.

To celebrate their change of name Mansfield left the Mansfield & District Alliance behind and joined the Central Alliance League. They also found a new ground called 'The Prairie', which had all the facilities you'd expect to find on a prairie (i.e. none) and the surface would have more aptly been called 'The Quagmire'.

War was around the corner and like many clubs Mansfield packed in for the duration. However, after the war in 1919 Mansfield Mechanics, who were having money problems, invited Mansfield Town to join them at Field Mill. The Stags seized the opportunity moved to Field Mill, changed their colours to Amber and Blue and have been there and wearing those colours ever since. The Mecahnics on the other hand have disappeared into the mists of time (as far as I know).

In 1921 Mansfield won the Central Allinace and moved to the Midland Counties League. In 1924 they adopted the stag emblem, which was part of the town's coat of arms, which in turn came from the close proximity of Sherwood Forest.

1926 saw the Stags apply for a place in the League, however they were turned down and instead joined the Midland Combination, which at the time was mainly made up of reserve teams of the region's league clubs.

If the Stags were out to impress the league officials they certainly did in 1927-28 when they beat Wolves in the FA Cup and took Arsenal to the wire at Highbury only to lose out to 2 late goals. Nevertheless, Mansfield still couldn't get a place in the league, so in 1931 they changed their tactics. After years of applying for the 3rd Division North they thought they might be better of applying for the 3rd Division South. The tactic worked immediately, much to the chagrin of Newport County, who were the team who lost out.

Since entering the league Mansfield have played the typical role of a relatively small town club close to a couple of cities; both Nottingham and Derby have taken fans away from Field Mill over the years, and now the sky generation probably all support Chelsea or Man City, or whoever has the most cash this season. Mansfield have yo-yoed between the top 2 divisions and between the North and South of Division 3 when it was still regional. Their most consistant stay in a division was for 5 seasons from 1986 when they managed to stay in the 3rd division, as it was called more logically then.

In 2008 Mansfield were relegated from the League to the Conference and have been their since. Their biggest local rivals are Chesterfield who were refer to them as the scabs. Chesterfield being from Derbyshire who went on strike during the miner's strike and Mansfield being from Nottinghamshire, who didn't.

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