Tayo (left) from Sheffield Hallam University, pictured with Fergus.

Mansfield’s Field Mill (One Call Stadium).

My first experience of travelling with the supporters’ coach

For the first time ever, I went on the FGR supporters’ coach on Tuesday 9th April for the game against Mansfield.

I was pleasantly surprised with the standard of the vehicle provided. It was clean and comfortable. Toilet facilities were available. We stopped off for refreshments at a service station on the way up. On the non-stop return leg we were provided with free tea, coffee and biscuits.

I was travelling with Ian Crawley, Supporters Club chair, and upon our arrival at the ground, he was met by a Sheffield Hallam University student, who told him that he was doing an MBA dissertation on the influence of FGR’s’ environmental sustainability actions on the fans. The three of us walked into town to find a pub and discuss this further. Ian gave me an FGR scarf to wear and I must admit, as someone who doesn’t usually wear the club’s colours even at home games, I felt a little perturbed as we entered a large pub. All eyes looked up from their pints and if a piano had been playing, it would surely have stopped. Nevertheless, a couple of Stags’ supporters chatted with us and I started to relax.

Arriving back at the ground, entry to the away end was very easy. There were only 80 of us! The seats were excellent, giving great views from behind one of the goals. Over to the left-hand-corner of the away end was a large screen, which showed replays of some of the action during the game. Over to my right was the main stand, a superb structure for a League Two side, housing most of the home supporters. The facilities for the away fans were no better than ‘ok’. There was just one outdoor area where you could buy the usual pie and hot drink.

A curiosity was the Mansfield mascot. The curiosity was the fact that there were TWO of them. A stag and a doe. I wondered why they didn’t throw in a fawn for good measure. Or really go for it with a whole herd of mascot deer. They could interfere with the away side’s pre-match kickabout by grazing around that side of the pitch.

Anyway, it was a very absorbing game. Mansfield desperate for promotion and FGR desperate to stay up. Although it was clear that Mansfield were the better side, exploiting the wings to great effect, FGR upped their game in the second half and a draw would have been a fair result. The final score was 1-0 to the Stags, and not withstanding this, the FGR fans went down to the pitch side and applauded their team, who applauded us back. The Mansfield fans demonstrated slightly less grace by gleefully chanting that we were going down.

Looking back on the experience, apart from the result, I thoroughly enjoyed it and for a comfortable and relaxing trip to an away ground I would heartily recommend the supporters’ coach.

Fergus Dignan