Mansfield Town (Sunday, January 6)

SUNDAY JANUARY 6

Mansfield Town 1 Liverpool 2

MANSFIELD has been buzzing since being paired with Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round. I’ve not visited Field Mill  since its refurbishment, so I’m up for it. Unfortunately, tickets (£20) go on general sale on the filthiest morning of the year.

At stupid o’clock, I join a queue of already soaked-to-the-skin, shivering, inappropriately-dressed Stags fans and settle in for the six-hour wait.

By 11.00am, I am leaving just as stewards inform the hundreds of remaining fans that it’s a sell-out!

Fast forward to the New Year and I am at Field Mill ridiculously early for the 4.00pm kick-off. I secure the
Special Edition programme (£3) edited by my old mate Stevo: what an absolute stunner. The Liverpool coach
arrives and disappears into a no access area to avoid the precious players having to, Heaven forbid, meet any
normal people.

After a delicious pie, chips and mushy peas supper I am ready for the big match. The problems start once I have
entered the ground: my seat doesn’t exist, and I’m not the only one! I estimate 40 or so others are pestering stressed
stewards.

Each steward has a sheet detailing available seats (how, it’s a sell-out?!). I am sent to several different areas but
when I get there, people have already been allocated those seats by other stewards. It is utter chaos. To compound the frustration, one annoyed regular tells me that the same had happened at the recent Lincoln City game.

Eventually, I find an empty place and guard it with my life when another fan approaches, sent by a steward to an ‘empty seat’. Shambles.

Mansfield start the match like startled bunnies and should have been four or five goals behind before they wake up.

The only succour gleaned by the bumper home crowd is from the efforts of the most talentless/drunk/both trumpeter
I have ever heard; so bad that some fans are crying with laughter.

Cheating little s**t, Suarez, a consistent grubby stain on The Beautiful Game, denies Town a replay after their spirited second half performance, though in truth they don’t deserve one for their first-half display.

All in all, quite a cup tie!

sad.hopper@ntlworld.com

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