NOTTS COUNTY V STAGS: Mansfield Town striker Chris Beardsley hopes for a happier derby against Notts

Owls new Boy Rhoys Wiggins beats Stage Chris Beardsley
Owls new Boy Rhoys Wiggins beats Stage Chris Beardsley
  • Beardsley has bad memories of Notts derby game leg break
  • Striker back for third spell
  • The golden era of youth at Mansfield

It was 10 years ago this month that Chris Beardsley broke his leg while challenging ex-Stags keeper Kevin Pilkington in a 3-2 home local derby defeat by Notts County.

Beardsley is now back at Mansfield for a third spell and on Friday will hope to capture the derby headlines at Meadow Lane for a very different reason.

But there are no hard feelings from the striker, whose last full 90 minutes came when he played for Stevenage in last season’s League Two play-offs before his midweek outing at Sheffield Wednesday.

“It’s 10 years ago to the month I believe,” he said. “I’d just got in and got going and then the season was over. But I came back. To be fair it was one of those things you couldn’t do anything about.

“The ball was there to go and win and it was just unfortunate. It would be nice to go there and win Friday night, but the broken leg’s got nothing to do with it, it’s just to get the three points and get this team its first win of the season - and I think the lads are going to be ready for it.

“I’ve spoke to Pilks a few times though I don’t know if we’ve actually played against each other since.

“It’s one of them. He just came out to clear and I’ve tried to nip in front of him and he’s just caught my back leg. It was nothing major, just the angle I got caught.

“But I’ve had plenty of plates and operations and stuff over the years so it’s the normality of a footballer.”

Beardsley can’t wait for Friday to come and relishes the atmosphere of a derby.

“It’s what you want to be in football for to be honest,” he said.

“I think I made my full debut in a local derby away at Chesterfield and it was immense. You were getting things thrown at you, all sorts of rubbish from the terraces at Saltergate.

“It’s what it’s all about. Winning the local derbies – there’s no better feeling. You can’t say it’s like another game because it’s not.

“There will be 2-2,500 Stags fans there on Friday night and the place will be rocking.

“It’s down to the players to put in a big performance.”

He added: “They will have done their homework on us and we are going to do our homework on them.

“They played Stevenage on Saturday so I have already had conversations with their camp and they’ve told me what they think. So we will be ready and we are looking forward to it and we will make sure we’re on our mettle.

“It would be good if we could get three points on the board, I will be happy.”

The game sees a showdown between the two clubs who have brought the most new players in during the summer in the country.

“There’s 30-plus transfers between them so there will be a lot of new players there finding their feet,” said Beardsley.

“We have to make sure we play as a team and not as individuals. These games are not for individuals. These games are to win as a team.

“Yes, there will be a hero on the night but you’ve got to make sure you win it as an 11 or however many get on the pitch.”

Beardsley can remember such glorious moments in past Stags/Notts derbies, saying:

“I was there the day Ritchie Barker scored, probably off my crutches by then. It was a great day.

“I can also remember being there when Iyseden Christie put one in in the last minute I think to earn us a point. There were 4-5000 Stags fans there that day.”

Beardsley was delighted to get a full game under his belt at Hillsborough this week, though disappointed to bow out of the cup in a 4-1 defeat.

“You could definitely tell they’d spent some money over the summer, they are a decent Championship outfit,” he said.

“We made a few changes, but some of the lads got 90 minutes and I think we learned a lot. You have to take as many positives as you can from it.

“It was good to get the minutes in the body. At times things weren’t natural for me and you could tell I’d not had the minutes, but as the game went on I felt okay and strong and it’s just something to build on now and take forward.

“Maybe 4-1 was a bit harsh. I think we could have scored more than one, but as a team we needed to defend better.

“Without the ball our transition wasn’t quick enough and at times we left ourselves open, but again we were up against decent opposition and we have to take the positives, look at the negatives and build on it.

“I think that was Corbin’s (Shires) full debut, so as a 17-year-old he did 90 minutes out there. At times it was tough but he did well and he will only learn from it. He’s got a bright future. He listens to the staff and the older lads and puts the work in.

“I thought that was Taff’s (Ryan Tafazolli) best 90 minutes I’ve seen from him since I’ve been at the football club. He read the game well, stepped in and, all in all, he will take a lot of positives from that.

“He’s got his goal, he attacked it well, so he had a good night.

“It was nice to get back out there. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get on the score sheet as I had decent chances. I hit the post, the keeper made a decent save and I had one blocked. But it’s nice to be playing against that level of opposition and show you can still find half a yard to get in an attempt which is always good.

“From now it’s push on and hopefully the wins will come.”

Beardsley came through the youth set-up at Mansfield and is now back for a third spell.

He admitted: “I’ve been away for a while and, to be fair, there is a lot that’s changed behind the scenes. The club is in a lot better place than when I left, to be honest.

“I think it was early 2007 when I left and the club was in turmoil on and off the pitch. It lost a lot of good young players and it’s obviously had to drop down and bounce back and now I think again it’s in a bit of a transitional phase.

“We’ve had a lot of signings in the summer. It will take time and we will have nights last like night when you are chucking a lot of new players in as it takes time to gel.

“But I think we’ve got a good group of honest lads. We are still trying to find ourselves as a team as such and as long as we put the graft in and we keep looking to build and move forward we will be okay.”

Does he think relegation was a good thing for Mansfield in hindsight?

“Probably off the pitch, yes, it definitely wakes a few people up off the pitch when you drop out of the League,” he said.

“They did well not to be in there for a long period of time. They bounced back quite quick and then obviously the club now has a footing where it can build a more successful future.

“This club has definitely always been a part of me. The first four years of my career were here and I learned a lot. I worked with some very good coaches and some exceptional players who have gone on to play at international standard.

“The youth system here at the time was in a bit of a golden era. Looking at the three or four years before me and the three or four years after me, I was lucky to come through with a good group of lads ability-wise and probably mentality and character-wise too.

“It’s probably given me a good grounding. I know the club is back in that mode at the minute in trying to build the youth set-up and hopefully that era will come again.”