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Field Mill
Mansfield Town v Barrow AFC
Saturday, March 17th 2012, 3pm
Blue Square Premier League
By Darren Riley

As a follower of a club that has played non-league football for forty years now it has been a treat to visit the grounds of clubs that have been relegated to the Conference recently as they are far superior to the type of ground I am used to. Field Mill is, in my opinion, the best ground in the Conference with its three modern all seater stands and relatively lavish facilities that put others to shame. As a Barrow fan I appreciate a bit of comfort as we don’t get much at Holker Street!
 
I travelled to Mansfield by train as I always do. The station is just across the road from the ground which makes access easy. I’m not sure how easy it would be to park a car so I would always recommend doing the last leg by train to prevent any parking bother. The station is on the ‘Robin Hood Line’ and served by trains from Nottingham which is where I changed as I travelled up from the South.
 
As I have a long journey to Mansfield, travelling up from Kent, I have never arrived with enough time before hand to do much else than go straight to the ground. There is a retail park next door to Field Mill but the only food and drink I saw on offer was a Macdonalds which isn’t really my thing. I did have a wander around hoping to find a coffee shop to get a thirst quenching latte but I wasn’t successful.
 
Although the ground has obviously been rebuilt in the recent past it does look a bit run down on the outside which is perhaps a reflection of the hard times the club has suffered in recent years which has ultimately led to the loss of their Football League place. Away fans are accommodated in single tiered stand behind one goal which gives excellent views. One side of the ground is unused with the old stand still in place but it has been decorated in such a way that it doesn’t really detract from the overall look of the place. The stewards at Mansfield have something of a reputation for being a bit strict but I had no problems with them and they showed me where I could put my flag in a sectioned off area of seats.
 
The travelling Barrow fans were very quiet at this game as the usual group of singers had chosen not to travel, maybe they had a premonition of what was to follow! The home fans became more vocal as the game wore on as they celebrated goal after goal against a Barrow side that were totally outclassed. After each Mansfield  goal the club played music which was so loud it was distorting badly. I understand why they do it but I wish that they didn’t subject the poor away fans to it. It became tedious after their third goal but when you are subjected to it seven times you wish the speaker system would blow up.
 
We were 4-0 down at half-time so I chose to seek comfort at the tea bar. A Chicken & Mushroom pie was purchased at a fairly reasonable £2.50 and a Mars bar for 80p. The pie was fine, nothing special, but kept me going through what was to be a long second-half.
 
The 7-0 defeat kind of destroyed the away day experience. It was our biggest loss for 36 years so at least I can say ‘I was there’ in the future but it was quite depressing to see your team beaten like that. Getting back to the station was simple and was in plenty of time for my 17.14 train to Nottingham before getting a connection back to London and onwards to Kent arriving back at 21.30.

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