Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox said he was proud of the club’s 11th place finish in League Two and proud of his players for holding their nerve in a pressure cooker atmosphere as their 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers sent the Gas down into the Conference.
“I am over the moon with the work ethic shown by my players against a team that was fighting for their lives,” he said.
“The lads put in a great shift and I am really proud of them today. You can see how big a club Rovers are with the place packed to the rafters.
“We have finished 11th only on goal difference from being top 10 and that is superb.
“Just look at the amount of clubs who finished below us and the size of the clubs that finished below us.
“Look at Bristol Rovers. When I was playing they were a Championship club with a massive fan base and a massive set-up and now they have gone down.
“We must appreciate every game we win. You have seen today that no matter what your name or how big a name you are, no one escapes the trapdoor.”
He had words of comfort for former Stag Darrell Clarke, who will now be remembered as being in charge of Rovers as they lost their 94-year League status.
“This is a tough old business,” said Cox. “But the scenes here today, I am a football person, to see grown men crying, you know what it meant to them and I feel for them.
“My job is to look after Mansfield Town. I haven’t spoken to Darrell yet but I am not one to gloat and wouldn’t want to rub anyone’s nose in it.
“I feel for the lad as he is totally genuine. It is not nice, but it’s a dog eat dog business and I am sure he will bounce back.”
Cox also had words of praise for Mansfield’s 704-strong travelling army, adding: “I am so proud of our supporters again today.
“They have been second to none. I hope they go back home and have a few beers and relax and appreciate what we have achieved as a football club this season.
“I hope they have a good rest over the summer and come back for what I believe will be an even tougher league next season. We need to galvanise and stick together and we can be successful.
“I hope the fans go home tonight knowing every player has given 100 per cent. We have had a few moans and groans along the way this season, but that is football.
“I just want to think about the here and now for the moment as you never know what will happen this summer.
“But we have finished 11th and we have some good young kids coming through. It can be very potent as a football club if you have a siege mentality.
“Let’s stick together as a town and as a football club and we can be successful.”