Summer is over (did it ever happen?) – bring on the football!

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Three more days to go and the big kick-off will be here.

And what a tough first week for the Stags.

Brentford away first game, a side only just relegated from a division higher and with a new manager and 10 new players – a real step into the unknown. Then it’s League One Oldham Athletic away in the Carling Cup on Tuesday – a game which Stags start as firm underdogs with all the pressure on the Latics to do the business.

I can remember seeing Stags get well and truly stuffed on their last visit there with Clyde Wijnhard scoring four in a 6-1 win five years ago – painful memories.

We stayed in a pub B&B in Manchester that night after drowning our sorrows and found ourselves locked in the bedroom area the next morning as the cook had got drunk the night before and failed to show up for breakfast the next morning. We were eventually let out when she arrived but got no breakfast at the pub – summed the weekend up really!

However, Mansfield have done well in the Carling Cup in the last couple of years and went away to higher league opposition in Huddersfield Town last season and came away with an unexpected but deserved victory.

Then it’s the first home game of the season on Saturday week when Lincoln City visit the Mill. That should be a cracker!

I noticed on the BBC web site yesterday that the Imps are their favourites to finally go up as champions after so many near misses in the Play-offs in recent seasons.

It is tough but a mouthwatering first week and anything Mansfield can achieve will have to be earned the hard way.

Let’s hope the three injured players – Dan Martin, Michael Boulding and Martin McIntosh – plus the ill pair of Alex John-Baptiste and Ashley Kitchen recover in time.

Sounds like the injured trio will more than likely make it but there are worries over Bappa. The good thing is that he has been playing at right back pre-season and John Mullins, last season’s regular right back, was in fine form as a centre half at Matlock on Monday.

Off the field the rumours continue about bids for the club and a deal being sorted out. But I am not holding my breath as it has been dragging on for so long now. It must be very unsettling for everyone who works at Field Mill.

Stags fans will barely have cleared out their cars from Saturday’s day out in London before they have to whizz up north for the trip to Boundary Park on Tuesday night. A few miles on the clock within the first four days!

Having just found out I will be getting the Setanta Sports channels for free with my Virgin XL cable TV package, it seems there is a feast of football ahead.

Let’s hope it starts with at least a point for Mansfield.

All right, summer is officially over (did it ever start?) – let battle commence!

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