IT was 10 barren years since the last time Stags had faced this scenario.
Winning the last game of the season at home to Carlisle on 20th April 2002 was not going to be good enough on its own to seal Mansfield Town’s promotion from the Third Division.
Champions Plymouth had to do them a favour by beating chief promotion rivals Cheltenham as well.
From start to finish the big crowd roared on Stags. And that cheer grew even louder when Wayne Corden rifled home from a corner after just five minutes to put Mansfield a step closer to promotion.
Carlisle had a brief chance to spoil the promotion party when Ian Stevens found himself in on goal after a Stuart Bell free-kick had deflected into his path.
But, with the Field Mill crowd holding their breath, Bell fluffed his chance and the rest, as they say, is history.
And any nerves about the final outcome were settled on 29 minutes when Andy White scored at the Quarry Lane end to send Stags towards their fairytale outcome.
Stags continued to crank up the pressure during the second half, with Scott Sellars, Adam Murray and Chris Greenacre all going close.
All eyes were now on Plymouth as they eventually saw off Cheltenham to do Stags the favour they had so desperately desired.
The victory marked a special day for loyal fan Shelley Mercer who celebrated a Mansfield promotion for the very first time.
“I have seen Stags relegated three times and seen them get promoted twice, so this makes it a very special game for me,” said Shelley, who has been following Stags for 22 years and was 26 at the time of the game.
“I still remember both goals very clearly even to this day. Both goals were at the Quarry Lane end where I was with my dad so we got an excellent view.
“We needed results to go our way and that made things even more dramatic. We were on all sides of the ground, with the Carlisle fans in the Bishop Street stand, and the atmosphere was fantastic that day.”
And that memorable day was made even more special for Shelley, who cheered Stags on with injured winger Liam Lawrence.
Added Shelley: “We were sat next to Liam Lawrence. He was really getting into it with us and I remember my dad listening to the scores coming in on his pocket radio and everyone cheering around us.
“We didn’t run on the pitch at the end. We celebrated in the stands and there was a picture of us celebrating in the following Wednesday’s Chad on the back page. I still have that picture celebrating today.”
The expectant crowd piled onto the pitch on the final whistle as jubilant fans raced to celebrate with their heroes.
The game was also one of the fondest memories in football for on-loan midfielder Adam Murray, who amazingly was promoted with Mansfield Town on the same day that his Derby County side were relegated.
“Although I was on the books of Derby at the time I had no mixed feelings that they had been relegated because I felt they treated me badly,” Murray said.
“If I’m honest I was very happy that we had gone up and Derby had gone down.
“There were lots of fans at the side of the pitch waiting to celebrate on the final whistle. It was a great day for the club and the best day I have had during my spells with Mansfield Town.
“We had a good team and were playing some good stuff, we got our rewards for our efforts on that day.
“I was a young lad at the time and this was the first time I had experienced success, it was one of the best spells of my career.
“The Carlisle game is one of my fondest memories and set me on my Mansfield Town journey.”
MANSFIELD TOWN: Pilkington, Hassell, Pemberton, Tankard, Robinson, Williamson, Murray, Sellars, Corden, Greenacre, White,
Were you at this match and what were your memories? Tell us who your favourite Stags player is and why?And what do you think is the best Mansfield Town match ever and why? Email your views to Stephen Thirkill