LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Bold move by chairman as rookie John Dempster gets his first managerial break following David Flitcroft sacking

Mansfield Town v Newport County'English League Football - Sky Bet League Two'One Call Stadium, Field Mill, Mansfield, England.'19th August 2014''Mansfield Town's John Dempster.''Picture by Dan Westwell (PLEASE BYLINE)''dan.westwell@btinternet.com'07793 733140
Mansfield Town v Newport County'English League Football - Sky Bet League Two'One Call Stadium, Field Mill, Mansfield, England.'19th August 2014''Mansfield Town's John Dempster.''Picture by Dan Westwell (PLEASE BYLINE)''dan.westwell@btinternet.com'07793 733140

Mansfield Town chairman John Radford has made a hugely bold move to sack David Flitcroft and give the job to academy manager John Dempster.

After the club just missed out on promotion to League One for a second successive season, many thought Flitcroft would be given a chance to make it third time lucky.

But just two days after their League Two Play-Offs semi-final defeat by Newport County, Radford not only terminated Flitcroft’s contract but also sensationally promoted Dempster into his first senior managerial post.

Such a good player for the club and excellent servant since then, Dempster has certainly already proved he has an eye for a player and the ability to bring them on with so much success at youth team level.

Some fans will be dismayed Flitcroft has gone as he had put together an excellent team who, until the pressure got to them, had played some of the best football we had seen in years at the One Call Stadium.

Others have loudly said that, having had a top three budget, Flitcroft should have delivered this time around after failing last season and has had his chances.

Doubtless there will also be a section of fans now wondering why Radford has not gone for someone with experience to replace Flitcroft too.

But every single manager in the Football League was given their first break somewhere and Dempster certainly deserves something back from the Stags for his hard work and loyalty to the cause.

The former Scottish U21 international defender joined Stags on loan from Crawley Town back in 2012 and helped them to promotion from the Conference as a solid centre back.

Since then he has looked after the club’s stars of tomorrow while also having a few days in the hot seat as caretaker manager in between Steve Evans quitting the club and Flitcroft being appointed in February last year.

Doubtless the departure of Flitcroft will see some of his key players also move on as the ‘nearly team’ of the last two seasons begins to break up.

Dempster will certainly have his own ideas on how to take the club forward – and there is little doubt that will include homegrown talent.

It’s been many years since the club had a conveyor belt churning out players of the quality of Liam Lawrence, Bobby Hassell, Lee Williamson and Craig Disley.

That was certainly never going to happen under the waving cheque book of Steve Evans - which must have been the darkest point of Dempster’s time at the club.

Thankfully Flitcroft’s arrival saw a new dawn for the club’s youth system as he encouraged a visible path from youth to first team and actually brought some of the brightest prospects in to train with the first team.

The club certainly has much to be thankful to Flitcroft for and he leaves it in a far better state than he found it.

But football can be cruel and, having wasted three bites of the cherry to achieve automatic promotion with defeat in their last three regular season League Two games, Flitcroft’s failure to get past Newport County in the play-offs was seen as a bridge too far for the chairman.

Despite some huge fees and wages being paid out over the last two season, Stags remain in the fourth tier of English football.

Interestingly, the last time they got out of it was back in 2002 with a side that included homegrown talent of the likes of Disley, Lawrence, Hassell and Williamson.

Fans always love a side more with a few ‘of our own’ in there and you can bet Dempster will make sure some of his latest prodigies are in there rubbing shoulders with bigger names without pushing anyone too far too soon.

As yet we have no idea how good Dempster’s contacts book is for new signings, how good he is at being able to attract players to the club or what sort of formation and football he will play next season.

But, with his history with the club, you can be sure fans will welcome giving him the chance to show what he can do at this level and as one chapter ends so another exciting one begins.