Promotion-winning manager Paul Cox said Mansfield Town will always be close to his heart – and he could never work at local rivals Chesterfield.
Cox was back at the club as part of the panel at the charity Mansfield Legends Live night at the club and said he was pleased to see the club blossoming again.
“When I came in there wasn’t really an infrastructure in terms of youth coming through, so there were a lot of foundations to put down,” he said.
“It wasn’t just the football side at that time, it was the whole of the club.
“I used to speak to a lot of supporters who were a bit disenchanted – the Conference can do that to you. It can demoralise you.
“It was really tough and I am so proud now to see where the club is now - not just in terms of their progression on the field but the Brooksby College side of it and the good kids coming through.
“Hopefully the team can do it this season and take the club to where John Radford wants them to end up.”
He added: “The club will always be close to me personally.
“A supporter asked me if I would ever be Chesterfield manager if it were offered and I said I could never, ever, ever take that job on because of my affinity with this club, with the chairman and the people associated with it.
“I’ll always have a special bond.”