IF mankind has invented a better past-time than football, I don’t want to know what it is.
To paraphrase the great Bill Shankly, ‘it’s not a matter of life or death, it’s much more important than that’.
And soon the eyes of the sporting world will be focused on a small club in the north of Nottinghamshire when the mighty Liverpool travel to Field Mill in the third round of the F.A cup.
Even though I support Notts County I am that rare beast, a fan who likes to see Forest and Mansfield do well too.
So I am as excited as the most ardent Stags fan that Liverpool, surely everyone’s second favourite football team, will be here with 1,600 fervent scousers on Sunday.
Football is important to places like Mansfield. It’s not just about a 90 minute game; it’s about who you are as a community.
Civic pride, history, a sense of belonging, call it what you will, but football matters.
Is there any other reason people would ever visit places like Accrington or Port Vale? These humble towns exist in our minds thanks mainly to a Saturday afternoon vidiprinter.
This is Mansfield’s most important game in a decade and the boost it will give the town will be out of all proportion to the throw away phrase ‘it’s just a game’, because to thousands of us it isn’t.
I have seen Stags a couple of times this season, and have been impressed. They are certainly better than some of the league one teams I have seen at Meadow Lane this season. Yes I am talking about you Hartlepool.
I can tell you all now that I have foreseen the result of Sunday’s big game. A 91st minute Louis Briscoe free-kick met by a majestically rising Geohaghan, who leaves the puny Skirtel face down in the mud and the hapless Reina diving the wrong way to seal a 1-0 win to Mansfield.
Mansfield will then go on to beat Manchester United 5-0 in the next round causing the instant retirement of Sir Alex, and his replacement as manager with Bez from the Happy Mondays.
And if you think any of the above is unlikely, then for at least a week nothing is going to stop thousands of Mansfield fans dreaming anything different. And that is the power of football!