Stags manager Steve Evans has nothing but the highest regard for the manager, chairman and staff at newly-promoted Forest Green Rovers as the Gloucestershire club head for the One Call Stadium for their first ever away Football League game on Saturday.
But, although they are the smallest town to ever get into the League, Evans stressed they had shown they can compete financially over the summer and should not be underestimated.
“We have a club coming who are on the crest of a wave,” said Evans.
“They have good players. They were at the top end of the bidding for the boy Kaiyne Woolery, who went to Swindon for £350,000 I believe. It shows you the type of opposition they will be.
“But it’s a great occasion and we want a really noisy, vibrant Mansfield Town support.”
He added: “When I went there with Crawley I could tell he was a chairman who had gone in there to make a real impact.
“I can remember Mark Cooper left a job in the Football League to go and take over at Forest Green.
“Apart from the ‘ching, ching Cooper’ I texted him on the day – as it must have been worthwhile – in all seriousness he went there to deliver a project over three or four years and, by God, he’s delivered.
“The win at Wembley was emphatic when they got promoted. They have signed some top players in the summer and I think they will do very well in the league.”
Evans has been impressed by what he has seen on footage of Forest Green’s first two games this week.
“They were 2-0 up against Barnet and could have been five up but lost a couple of sloppy goals – we’ve all been there as a manager,” he said.
“Then they took MK Dons to extra-time in midweek. I watched are-run of that yesterday and they should have won the game.
“We look forward to seeing Mark, his chairman and everyone associated with Forest Green here on Saturday for their first away game in the Football League.
“It will be an opportunity for the Mansfield Town supporters to get ready for the season ahead – we need 5,000 plus here on Saturday to start what might an unforgettable season.
“I think it’s going to happen. We are all so excited to be be coming home to play a League fixture with a good crowd and a good atmosphere on hopefully a dry day.”
On Rovers becoming the world’s first vegan football club, Evans added: “I think I’d have to jump in the car and nip round the corner for a pie and chips if I was there.
“The chairman has strong beliefs. He wants to make sure that as a minimum they buy into it and give it an open mind. I have met him two or three times and he is a good man who has put, dare I say it, millions into his football clubs.
“So if he decided it is to be a vegan football club he can do that every day of the week.
“He owns the club, he makes the decisions.”
Does Forest Green’s achievements surpass those made by Evans when he won promotion into the League with Crawley Town?
“Let’s not get carried away,” smiled the Stags boss.
“At Crawley we won the league by a landslide, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup and lost 1-0 at Old Trafford, we lost three times in 14 months.
“But congratulations to Forest Green.”