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Field Mill
Mansfield Town v
Southend United
League Two
Saturday, February 8th 2014, 3pm

John & Stephen Spooner
(Southend United fans)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I visited this ground many years ago but my son could not recall. Southend had only lost one in the last 12 games and were unbeaten in 2014. Whilst Mansfield were 19th in the League having won only two home games since coming back into the Football League last season as Conference Champions. Southend had won 3 nil at home to Mansfield earlier in the season so the prospect of another 3 points made the trip a must. 

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

My son and I travel to games from North Wales as exiled fans so it was about 110 miles each way and just over 2Ĺ hours along the M56, A6, A619 and A617. The ground was easy to find and we asked about parking at the ground, which we could for £5 but decided to park in a side road just round the corner to avoid delays in getting out of the car park. We turned into Quarry Lane and then parked in Highfield Way.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We ate our usual pre-packed picnic and listened to radio commentary on Liverpool v Arsenal. We didnít meet any fans to talk to.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The ground came into sight on our right as we arrived next door to a retail park. The ground appears quite impressive with a large Main Stand. As we walked to the away entrance gate via a small gate from the club car park, we got a full view of the adjacent busy retail park. Entrance is via an electronic system scanning ticket barcodes. The Main Stand and stands behind each goal appear modern and all seated. The stand opposite the Main Stand is dilapidated and not used being covered in large wooden advertising boards. The 40 or so, advertising boards make the ground appear scruffy in my opinion. There is a small wooden hut on the top with a couple of hardy cameramen trying not to be blown away by the gale force winds. The manager dugouts are also on that side of the ground, isolated from any fans of either side. We were given the whole of the away stand and the leg room is comfortable. The views of the pitch are superb. The pitch was rain sodden but played well.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game was played in freezing gale force gusting wind and rain and there was not much atmosphere until Mansfield took the lead with a great shot in the first half. Southend fans did their best to will the team on but a 2nd Mansfield goal in the second half subdued even the most die hard Southend fans. There is a food service area under the stand, offering the usual pies and drinks at reasonable cost. I can recommend the hot and tasty beef and onion pies at £2-50. The stewards were relaxed and friendly. Southend managed to get a consolation goal in the 90th minute but, too little too late. The Mansfield mascot is a stag (adult) and he was accompanied by a baby stag (youth) which was an unusual sight. The match program of 70 pages was £3 and a reasonable read.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

There was no delay in getting away from the ground and we relied on satnav to take us back to North Wales. The weather had worsened as the satnav guided us to the M1 we assumed wrongly that we would be taken directly north to the M62 and a straight forward journey. We instead, found ourselves taking the old Sheffield to Manchester elevated route via the A628 Snake Pass road, which is a tricky route, even in the middle of summer. Luckily, being dark we could not see the drops neither side of this high, twisting road, only the twinkling lights of villages and towns way below us! The route was interesting to say the least in driving rain and gales force winds, and one I would not recommend in any circumstances.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

This was a good day out with an interesting journey, but the weather and result spoiled the day. Mansfield is a good ground to visit and the Main Stand is modern and impressive.

Attendance 3,055 (484 away).

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