Ex-Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox admitted that the 2-1 win at Hereford United six years ago this evening was the most amazing night of his career and something he will remember forever.
As Mansfield Town once again aim for a promotion this month, Cox today looked back at a video of that massive night at Hereford United when Matt Green’s late goal completed his match-winning brace and gave Stags one hand on the Conference championship trophy.
It took another four days until a home win over Wrexham made sure of the title and pipped rivals Kidderminster Harriers, but even that final whistle against Wrexham could not match the emotions stirred at Hereford.
VIDEO - RELIVE STAGS’ NIGHT TO REMEMBER AT HEREFORD
“I look back on it as the most amazing night I’ve had in football as a player or a manager,” smiled Cox.
“Those kind of nights are what we are all in football for.
“The emotion that went into that game was unbelievable. It was such a special night and I think it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“The emotion, the feelings, the noise, the smells – the hairs still stand up on the back of neck now every time I think about.”
Stags knew they needed to win at Hereford and and were upset to find Hereford offering free curry to any fans from rivals Kidderminster who would come and cheer them against Stags as well as inviting the Harriers team and management as guests.
But that served only as an extra spur in the end.
“There was an incredible amount of pressure building towards that latter stage,” said Cox.
“When we turned up at Hereford, they had invited Kidderminster’s team and manager to the game and given them curry.
“We sat talking about it before the game with the players and, if I am honest, it gave us even more determination to not just go and win the game but also to win the Championship.
“It seemed people were conspiring to try to stop us winning the league.
“The feelings and chemicals running through your body when Matt Green scored at that late stage were amazing. I personally felt we had won the championship then after winning that game.
“I have just watched the video again and the same sort of chemicals ran through my body again.
“The supporters travelled in their numbers that night and I think every one of them knew that was going to be the game that could either release the pressure for the Saturday or just pile on even more.
“You could tell that from the pitch invasion after the second goal, the emotion from the bench, and the emotion from the players.
“I think the psychology we finished that game with won us the championship.”
The Hereford game – and the final run-in – took a lot out of the Mansfield team, but Cox believes the noise from the fans in the last 10 minutes against Wrexham saw them home.
“Wrexham had nothing to play for in the last game, but it was a surreal day as the cameras were flashing back and forth to Kidderminster, who were playing Stockport,” said Cox.
“I didn’t want to know what Kidderminster’s score was. If we hadn’t won I think it went down to goal difference.
“The most surreal moment was when we were 1-0 and and everyone was dead on their feet, if I am honest. They were dead on their feet before the game. But there was an amazing noise went around the ground for the last 10 minutes.
“Once again, that is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“The boys were physically and psychologically shattered and I don’t think the crowd realise how much they dragged the boys over that finishing line with their noise.
“Kidderminster were pasting Stockport, But a wall of noise just suddenly went round the ground.
“I just knew at that point we were going to win and, I can remember it like it was yesterday.
“The lads’ energy levels went up a notch and we saw the game out quite comfortably even though Wrexham went direct to try to win a game they had no reason to win apart from stopping us winning the title. It was a really special time.
“It is what you want to be in the game for as a manager, a player or a spectator – anyone that loves the game. Those emotions don’t come around very often. That’s why it will stay with me.”