Tributes and memories poured in from Mansfield Town fans today after the announcement that ex-Stags striker Dave Syrett had passed away aged just 60.
Leading the way were Stags fans and writers Tim Morriss, Gordon Foster and Martin Shaw.
Click HERE to read the story of Syrett’s death
“Like all other Mansfield Town supporters of a certain generation I will have two abiding memories of the great goalscorer who was Dave Syrett,” said Tim Morriss.
“The first came on the opening day of our only season in the second tier of English football.
“Like so many others I - then a young teenager - was packed into the old North Stand marvelling at the great Peter Shilton in front of us when Dave showed a flash of his brilliant clinical finishing to give us the lead.
“We were in dreamland, despite having to run for our lives before and after the match from Stoke’s hooligan element. Dave could sniff out a goal from nothing and that day he put us on the road to a famous 2-1 win.
“He might have been slightly built, but his anticipation to latch on to a loose ball and ability to keep calm and avoided tackles and lunging goalkeepers inside the penalty area was second to none.
“I am sure he was top scorer that season and a shining light in a relegation team that would have defied the odds and stayed up if they had been more clinical from the penalty spot.
“Dave was a great striking foil to another club legend, Ernie Moss, at the start of that season I recall. In fact, many of us believe that if Ermie had not been injured just before Christmas we would have stayed up.
“Sadly, for most of the season Dave was a lone striker at times after the New Year, but he still managed 16 goals.
“The most famous, even more than being the first to score for the Stags in the old Second Division, was against the mighty Spurs - one of those occasions when I was proud to say ‘I know because I was there’.”
Morriss continued: “That second abiding memory was him scoring a hat-trick against the likes of Glen Hoddle and Steve Perryman in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Field Mill with Spurs.
“Syrett twice put the Stags in front with poacher’s finishes before, in pouring rain and on a mudbath of a pitch, he anticipated a goalkeeper’s mistake, raced on to a loose ball and rolled it through the mud and into an empty net.
“He then turned away and wheeled his right arm in the air - an iconic sight and one to be remembered for all time
“Sadly Spurs equalised through the great Hoddle late on and the Stags dropped a crucial point because of yet another missed penalty.
“But the sight of Dave and his grinning face in the mud after claiming his hat-trick in front of the North Stand will live me forever.
“For anyone who has never seen the match, go to YouTube. It featured on ITV’s Sunday afternoon highlights show in the 70s and has memory-jerking commentary from Hugh Johns too.
Click HERE to see Syrett score his famous hat-trick against Spurs.
Martin Shaw said: “Dave Syrett was a Stags legend for the part he played in Mansfield Town’s only season in the second tier of English Football, in 1977/78.
“The Stags were relegated that season, but Syrett scored an impressive 16 goals and was Player of the Season.
“There were some huge highlights along the way, most notably a win over Stoke City on the opening day of the season, with Syrett scoring the first goal on his debut, firing under England goalkeeper Peter Shilton after a poor back-pass.
“Sadly there were no TV cameras there to capture the moment. But there were TV cameras to capture an incredible game against Tottenham Hotspur at Field Mill, which ended 3-3, with Syrett scoring a hat-trick.
“The game was played on a mud-bath and was the best Stags game I have ever seen.
“Syrett’s third goal, to make it 3-2, came after Gordon Hodgson intercepted a stray pass from Steve Perryman, and played a ball over the top.
“Spurs keeper Barry Daines came out to clear and sliced his kick, allowing Syrett to roll the ball into the empty net. Yet still the ball nearly got stuck in the mud and only just crossed the line.
“I remember so clearly watching on as a 13-year-old from the Bishop Street Stand, elated, only to then see Glenn Hoddle equalise in the last minute with a free kick from outside the box.
“I have wonderful memories of Dave Syrett - RIP and sincere condolences to his family.”
Gordon Foster recalls: “Although I didn’t get to as many Stags games in Dave Syrett’s day as I would have liked due to family commitments, I would say that his match stats don’t do justice to his contribution, especially that one season in Division Two.
“The big problem as I recall is that the board at the time still tried to live like a Division Three club, so they couldn’t really compete.
“It meant that when Ernie Moss got injured he wasn’t adequately replaced and Syrett was too often left to plough a lone furrow up front.
“But the fact that he got 16 goals largely under those circumstances for a losing side earned him the right to a mention in the same breath as the likes of Moss, Ray Clarke, Terry Eccles etc, though not quite with Waggy and Roy Chapman.
“His hat-trick against Spurs is what most Stags fans would remember him for.
“Unfortunately the goals dried up for him in his second season before he moved on to Walsall.”
What memories do you have of Syrett?
Let us know on our new Chad Mansfield Town Facebook page.
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