Go Away: Mansfield Town

The front cover of an A to Z street atlas of Mansfield on a red background

The fourth most famous Mansfield, after Jayne, Keith and Bitter, the town of Mansfield has existed as a settlement since Roman times.

Situated in Nottinghamshire the town can be found in the Maun Valley, home also to Sutton-in-Ashfield, Ollerton and of course the ancient Maun Civilisation, famous for their remarkable temples which you can still see today in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and, presumably, Edwinstowe.

In 1042 Edward the Confessor possessed a manor in Mansfield that presumably he was more than happy to tell everyone about. William the Conqueror also owned land in Mansfield, which reportedly included ‘two carucates, five sochmans, and thirty-five villains; twenty borders, with nineteen carucates and a half in demesne, and a piscary’, all of which tells us that whilst Wiiliam may have been quite the conqueror, he wasn’t quite so effective at remembering the proper names for things.

Mansfield has held a market since 1227, sticking two fingers up at all those other towns whose markets begin before lunchtime. As well as a market square, the Mansfield also boasts a tree marking what is believed to be the centre of Sherwood Forest. Situated on West Gate, the tree can be found just outside a letting agents; you can insert your own irony-laced gag about robbing from the poor to give to the rich here, we’re busy people.

In 1894 William Horner Groves described Mansfield as ‘one of the quaintest and most healthy of the towns in the Midland counties’, a telling statement, particularly telling in how Mr Horner Groves didn’t get out much. Beyond the bricks and mortar of Mansfield, you’ll find nearby Mansfield Woodhouse; Mansfield Strawhouse however sadly fell victim to The Big Bad Wolf some years ago.

Formed in 1897, Mansfield Town were originally a much more interesting prospect, calling themselves Mansfield Wesleyans and playing in chocolate and sky blue shirts. After a brief spell as Mansfield Wesley, they ditched the methodist influence to become plain old Mansfield Town in 1910. The club almost saw a further name change in the early 2000s when prospective owner John Batchelor announced his intention to rename them Harchester United to capitalise on the success of the TV drama, Dream Team. Luckily for Mansfield fans, and very much sadly for the rest of us, Batchelor was unsuccessful in his ownership bid. Town’s nickname is The Stags, owing to their penchant for taking cheap flights to European cities, drinking far too much pilsner, and creating a generally unpleasant vibe for anyone else unfortunate enough to find themselves in their presence.

What’s it famous for?

Non-striking miners. Yeah, I mean, we can’t exactly ignore that giant pachyderm squating on the sofa. This part of Nottinghamshire, like our own corner of South Yorkshire, was once fuelled by coal-mining. But when many of the country’s miners voted to strike in 1984-85, many of the Mansfield area colliers voted against strike action. This came to a head on May Day 1984 when violence broke out between striking and working miners, leading to the establishment of the Mansfield-based Union of Democratic Mineworkers. The correct name for a Democratic Mineworks is of course an Ourworks.

Bitter. No, the drink. We’ve moved on now. Mansfield Bitter was the flagship beer of Mansfield Brewery which at one point was the UK’s largest independent brewery. In the 1980s, Mansfield Brewery’s adverts featured global politicians including Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. You might think this a radical departure from other beer adverts of the time, but it’s all too easy to forget that the face of Castlemaine XXXX at this time was Douglas Hurd, whilst the bloke inside the Hofmeister bear costume was Yasser Arafat.

How to blend in

Dress in all green whilst supporting charity through regular burglary of high-end department stores. Remark on how for all their achievements neither Barack Obama nor Angela Merkel can be seen supping average local beer down The Brown Cow, before heading home to tend your temple.

What’s the stadium like?

Field Mill takes its name from a former textile mill that sat across the road from the site and was powered by a great water wheel. Turning over and over on itself at a steady pace for years without actually going anywhere, Mansfield Town have called Field Mill home since 1919. Prior to hosting Town the ground was home to some much more interesting sounding teams including Mansfield Marksman and Mansfield Mechanics; the latter had only planned to be there for a quick game, but after a shake of the head and a deep intake of breath, they ended up working on the ground for four years.

During their tenure of Field Mill, Town have developed the ground several times, including the purchase of a new grandstand from Hurst Park Racecourse and the installation of floodlights in the 1960s. The latter were switched on for the first time by the England international Billy Wright, a bold decision when most would’ve gone for a fully-qualified electrician, but it seemed to pay off.

Significant rebuilding in the 2000s has seen the ground become all-seater, albeit only on three sides as the Bishop Street stand was condemned in 2006; an unsightly spectacle was hidden from view in subsequent years when they blocked the sight of the pitch from the stand by covering it in advertising hoardings. Away fans are housed behind the goal in the North Stand at what is now known as the One Call Stadium, because once you’ve visited you’re unlikely to want to go back again any time soon.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s