Mansfield Memories Are A World Away

NOSTALGIA ALERT! Last time Boro played Mansfield a place at Wembley was looming too. Back in March 1987 Bruce Rioch’s side were squeezed out in the Northern semi-final of the Freight Rover Trophy, going down 1-0 at Ayresome Park in front of a crowd of 11,754.
The Rioch revival was gathering pace and a reshaped Boro were favourites: they had not been out of the top three of the third division all season and went into the game in excellent home form with six successive wins over Carlisle, Doncaster, Newport, Bristol Rovers, Fulham and Bristol City behind them. Mid-table Mansfield shoudl have been a formality but Boro froze and a golden chance for what then passed as glamour was snatch away. I was gutted and convinced Boro’s Wembley Jinx would deny us glory for all eternity.


There was a buzz about Boro. The Rioch revival was just gathering real pace as belief in the team took hold. Boro had climbed out of the coffin and the near escape from liquidation, the new broom in the boardroom and a young, mainly local team that the crowd could relate – and feasibly could have lived next door to or bump into in Newboulds or Frankie Dees – were forging a strong bond with the Holgate. Gates were nudging up and a pre-meltdown gates of 5,000 had been transformed to regular figures of over 10,000 (calculation of an average is made difficult because of the approximately 52,000 who attended the Port Vale match at the Vic).
In an eighties retro ‘typical Boro’ moment Boro bottled it and on the night offered nothing. Mansfield won it with a late penalty after teenage striker Alan Kernaghan put in one of those ‘a centre forward’s tackles’ that was to become his trademark and the Wembley dream was dashed. Mansfield beat fourth division Chester over two legs in the Northern final then beat Bristol City on penalties to lift the silverware at the Twin Towers.
Team: Pears, Coyle (Kerr), Cooper, Mowbray, Parkinson, Kernaghan, Slaven, Stephens, Hamilton, Gill, Hodgson (Ripley). Read it and weep.
Boro lost the next game away at Walsall but then bounced back by concentrating on the league and went undefeated in 13 games until the end of the season to clinch promotion. Wembley would have to wait.

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5 thoughts on “Mansfield Memories Are A World Away

  1. I loved your nostalgic memories of 1987 but I can go back further. The last time I was at Mansfield was in January 1967.
    We had already beaten Mansfield in the league in a 5-4 thriller so we were returning for this FA cup tie full of confidence. I cannot remember there being any seats (realistically there must have been) and it was a walk round ground. Payment was at the turnstiles and it was a sea of red and white all over the stadium. They didn’t even have walls round the pitch as such. I just remember there being wooden posts with wire across.
    Those were the days etc
    PS We lost 2-0
    **AV writes: I’ll see if I can dig the old files out for a ‘Timewarp’ feature closer to the time.

  2. A solid and controlled team performance like against Bristol city [after the first wobbly 20 mins] is called for again against Mansfield who will be fighting hard in a more combative style than city.
    Liverpool will be a far greater test and I am looking forward to it as long as we can keep Torres and Gerrard quiet for 95 mins!

  3. Oh those were the days!
    1987 in the Holgate…meat pies and bovril and winding up the Joey Boys in the East Stand.
    “Brucie Riochs Red n White Army, Brucie Riochs Red n White Army, Brucie Riochs Red n White Army”.
    “Brucie, Brucie gissa wave”.
    Great memories of a team fighting and committed to playing for the Boro. Injuries and minor strains, you didn’t hear Mogga moaning. Everyone of those lads would have battled through 90 minutes in the rain and on mudbath pitches, imagine modern day players doing that…oh no my manicured nails are dirty.
    Thanks for the memory AV, 20 years have flown past! Where will Boro be in another 20 years time??? Premier League Champs or Championship Chumps???
    T T Teessider!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I was at that cuptie at Mansfield in 67 too. I think there was just one entrance to the ground so at the end to get out we walked across the pitch. Never been so deep in mud in my life!
    Think it mught have been my first ever away trip! I had been to Newcastle and Sunderland with my parents but this game I went to on my own so it was the 4th ground I ever saw.
    Have been to 60-odd more grounds since but I doubt there were more than a handful worse if that! Couldnt recognise the place when we were back there a few seasons back for a pre-season friendly. The performance was sadly typical of years of away games to come.
    Interesting that the main Gazette article about the upcoming game and past visits to Mansfield wiped this cup game from history entirely!

  5. Yeah, I remember being there in 1967, when we lost 2-0.
    We took over 10,000 fans, great day out by the way, I was only a kid at the time (around 16 years old and we thought we’d win The Cup and go up too),it was not to be, but thankfully went up and then after the match we had a night out in Notingham.
    Anyway getting back to that particular match we took over the whole grand and we thought that it would be like a home home gane, how litte did we know, blitzed yet again 2-0, don’t remind me, we were crap away from home then just as much then as now.
    I think that was a defining moment as far as Boro are conerned, going away and getting zapped again. Nothing ever changes, but as Boro fans we believe in you to the bitter end…

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