It’s been a Happy New Year, here’s to the next one!

by

Football fans will often be fickle and quick to criticise.

But I believe that anyone who has supported Mansfield Town for a long time and understands what has happened off the field, will be delighted to enter 2010 in fourth place in the BSP.

That gives the club a fantastic chance of the end of season play-offs and a real opportunity to get back into the big time.

Faces have changed quicker than a Hollywood Botox clinic as boss David Holdsworth has searched for the right blend at Field Mill.

And, thanks to the new owners, the club has been transformed from ugly sister to Cinderella behind the scenes as it is suddenly a place people want to be involved with again.

After those dark days of the previous regime, the sun is now shining brightly (metaphorically) and the town once again has had a football club to be proud of in 2009. So let’s celebrate that fact.

Team-wise, the Stags have had their problems in recent weeks with injuries, illness and nowhere to train as the snows and the frost bit hard, though probably no worse than anyone else.

But how they needed that win on Monday to steady the ship once more after a few wobbly results.

Kyle Perry’s opener against Cambridge provided the confidence injection the side required and Jake Speight’s winner crowned another good display from the sub’s bench.

Yes, the Stags occasionally went too long. But it wasn’t the best surface to try to play too much football on.

The way the ball hit a divot and jumped over Gary Silk’s foot in a the pre-match kick-in showed how uneven it was.

But the result meant that, despite recent hiccups and the two cup exits, Fortress Field Mill saw only one home defeat in the Blue Square Premier all year, and that down to a controversial red card decision. Once again that is something to be very, very proud of as a Stags fan.

Now Mansfield have two weeks to get everyone fit and ready for the visit of Luton Town on 9th January.

In the intervening time we will hopefully learn about who is coming and who is going with so many players in and out on loan and decisions to be made on them all.

Two brand new faces may also materialise to bolster the squad, possibly in defence, if Holdsworth can keep his books balanced which I am sure will inevitably result in departures too.

And hopefully Daryl Clare will return from his loan spell at Gateshead to become the star of the second half of a promotion season.

After all the razamataz of his arrival and frustration at his success for Gateshead, you still get the feeling that the wily Clare could yet have a massive say in Stags’ season.

York City away on Boxing Day was miserable from start to last.

It was a freezing cold afternoon, Stags crumbled to a 3-0 defeat and the cramped press box conditions were built for working with ye olde pen and paper and not a laptop.

To try to type with your elbows tucked in and your laptop almost on your chest for over five hours forced you into positions that would make a nun blush and at least one colleague ended the afternoon with backache.

Strolling around the city centre later, looking for something to eat, we found ourselves, by accident, on a narrow side street which I quickly realised was the famous Shambles, which took me nostalgically back in my mind to a school trip there all those years ago.

It’s a lovely city but I have had better trips there than Boxing Day!

With no Stags game this weekend I have decided on a busman’s holiday to see the FA Cup clash between Forest and Birmingham City who are both on marvellous runs and should hopefully provide some cracking entertainment.

And the fact that the VAT and Fiddle, the home of Castle Rock Brewery, is only a short walk away from the City Ground provides an added attraction!

Happy New Year to all of you – at least having no game on New Year’s Day allows extra recovery time from the previous night’s festivities. Enjoy!

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