Mansfield Town’s longest-serving player, Chris Clements, today joined League Two rivals Grimsby Town for an undisclosed five-figure fee with add-ons.
The talented 26-year-old midfielder was signed by the Stags from Hednesford Town in 2012 and helped the club to the Conference title.
But, under new boss Steve Evans, he has fallen down the pecking order and Grimsby today won a battle between themselves and another League Two club for his signature.
Stags sign Shaq Coulthirst – click HERE to read story
“I know from our chairman he played a massive part in getting the club back up in to the Football League with his performances and we thank him and wish him all the best,” said Evans.
“Things like that are never forgotten by the fans. You give it your life and you care. It means everything and I know the Stags fans will give Clem a warm reception when we see him.
“We gave young Clem and his representatives permission to talk to two clubs in League Two and the two clubs went head to head. It made no difference to us.
“The chairman got a very fair deal from both and I said to Clem go and speak to both, explore the options and get out those meetings what you want.
“He has chosen Grimsby Town. I have known the chairman John Fenty for many years. It is a good club with a good young manager and they have great supporters who get right behind the team.
“I get loads of stick when I go there and it’s great because they care for their club.”
Evans continued: “Outside of the game against us we wish that young man well. He just wasn’t going to be starting for us at this minute in time and he’s desperate to play football.
“We will never forget what he did for this club, especially in the Conference season.
“I think he is an outstanding young man off the pitch as well. More and more that becomes important to managers and head coaches.
“When you deal with these players on a daily basis, you want people in who have a real desire and purpose to play football, but also you want them to have a smile.
“It is unusual for people to be around as long as he was, especially in Leagues One and Two where it’s more difficult to secure longer term contracts.”
Clements was a regular choice under previous managers, but Evans said: “We’ve had a few things happen.
“Lee Collins has gone in there and done well, Jamie McGuire is still as competitive as ever, young Ben Whiteman is a natural central player, the boy Baxendale has stepped up in my time here to almost try to claim a place, we have Joel Byrom, who’s come into the club, and we are still trying to improve on that area of the pitch.
“So it was going to be more difficult. It’s just horses for courses.
“The other two clubs see him as a big part of it and I have just seen others in front. But it doesn’t mean I don’t think he is a top footballer for the level.
“You can’t keep 24-25 players happy and any head coach or manager who does that ultimately gets into a bit of trouble. So you have to focus on your main core group and trust all your players.”
Evans said the fee paid remains private, but future success and big money moves for Clements have been covered with add-on clauses.
“The chairman has got a decent five-figure fee for Clem with decent monies payable if he is a success for them,” he said.
“If he goes in, is absolutely wonderful and gets a great move, then we’d probably welcome it as we’d get a nice portion of that as well.
“It’s undisclosed and private. The chairman tells me he is happy with it so I am happy with it.”
Evans confirmed that Clements would be able to line up against the Stags when they head for Grimsby in a month’s time.
“I think gone are the days now when you could stop someone from playing against their former club,” he explained.
“It’s only a gentleman’s agreement now and that’s hard when people come under pressure.
“I expect Grimsby to be challenging at that top end for the play-offs and if they have paid decent money for Chris Clements they will want to put him on the pitch.
“If we bring someone in permanent and they come from League Two they would be playing against their old club the next week if it suited us. That’s the way football has gone now.”