Several of our players took time out from their celebrations to give us their thoughts on what has been a truly monumental day for everyone connected with Mansfield Town.
Defender John Dempster said:
“I’m struggling to [put this into words]. It’s a massive achievement for the group to gain promotion. It’s pretty special and to go up as champions is just something else.
“The whole club can be really proud. I’m proud of every single one of the players, all the supporters, all the staff. It’s been a special day.
“This ranks right up there [with my best achievements]. I’ve had some good times in my career, and I’ve been fortunate to play with some good teams and some good players.
“I’ve played a lot of games this season and it’s just a special occasion that everyone should enjoy.
“Over the course of the season, if you look at some of their players and some of their performances, and the likes of Matt Green, Luke Jones and Adam Murray have been immense.
“Those three stand out in my mind and the gaffer has made some good signings, and we’ve stuck together through thick and thin.”
He added: “We’ve had some ‘downs’, but this is the biggest ‘up’ that you can get.”
Frontman Matt Rhead said:
“I appreciate all the support I’ve had in the last year-and-a-half.
“It’s been amazing, and the fact that we’ve won something at the end of a season; something that you run and work hard for, is brilliant. Everyone deserves it.
“We all knew that we had to knuckle down after Christmas and put a run together, which under the gaffer we always have done.
“Thankfully today we’re champions and there’s no better feeling in football. The lads have showed mental strength to do [the business] today.
“The players are superb and we’ve all gelled really well. I don’t think you can put a price on that, especially as everyone has played their part during the season.”
Warrior Lee Beevers said:
“You just have to roll your sleeves up at the end of the day to get the work done, and that’s what we’ve managed to do. Finally!
“We’ve had a few injuries this year and far too many that I like to keep count of. This achievement is up there at the very highest level of what I’ve achieved in my career. It’s fantastic.”
Winger Lindon Meikle said:
“For a footballer, it means everything. That’s life!
“To be a champion, that’s what we do. It’s good to be back [in the Football League] for the fans, as they’ve not had a good time in the last five years.
“There’s a big togetherness and it’s great! teams can play good football, some of them better than us, but we just know how to play the nitty-gritty style of this league.
“It came down to the fact we had good individual and collective togetherness. At Christmas, people had wrote us off, but now look? Who’s the Champions? Us.
“As a footballer, when you join a team, you obviously have aspirations to progress with the team and do good things. You’re there to do a job, which is to win.
“[The gaffer] has told us to do the basics well and to just work hard as a unit. We’ve had to grind out results, like at Hereford, where we worked hard until the last minute to get a goal.
“For me, it’s like ‘finally’ to [be a Football League player]. It’s a massive achievement for me personal, and I’ve finally achieved my goals in life, to get into the [Football] League.”
He added: “It’s going to be a crazy weekend.”
Defender Luke Jones said:
“I’ve nearly lost my voice. It’s unbelievable and it means so much to the players. We’ve worked all season and promotion is massive for everyone at the club.
“I think in the end, in the second half of the season, we really had a belief that when we went on the 12-game run, we could do it. We had some consistency in our play.
“The points that we picked up helped to carry us over the line.”
Goalkeeper Alan Marriott, almost in tears, said:
“It’s been a long three days [since the game at Hereford]. It’s been an absolute nightmare at home with the missus, and she said she’d be glad when it’s out the way.
“This is something I’ve craved for so long. I’ve tasted a Play-Off defeat, but to have achieved promotion at last, it’s an amazing achievement for me personally.
“It tops the season for me. To play Liverpool in the FA Cup Third Round and to now get promotion, it’s incredible. When that final whistle went, it was absolute ecstasy.
“This means so much to me on a personal level. Apart from getting married and having kids, this is up there with the best achievement of my life.”
Player/Coach Andy Todd said:
“I had about five-heart attacks to be honest, but it was brilliant for everyone; the players, the management, the backroom staff, the fans, the town. It’s just fantastic.
“We made hard work of it in the last few games, and there was a little bit of tension in the final few minutes, but over the 46 games, I think we’ve deserved it.
“We’ve all been in it together. We’ve got a good bunch of lads, and we’ve all been singing off the same hymn sheet. We’ve now got our just rewards!”
Coach Richard Cooper said:
“I’m absolutely over the moon.
“We won it through grit, determination, sticking together, which we’ve done in abundance. We didn’t get the best of starts [this season] but we’ve stuck together.
“We’ve got some good players in this dressing and when it came down to it, we delivered. I think that’s the main thing as we always believed we could pull something off.
“I’m just glad I’m a champion, but I suppose the real work starts in a few days.”
Skipper Adam Murray said:
“I’m speechless. We’ve waited a long time for this moment and I’ve never felt as emotionally drained as I did before the game today.
“On Tuesday, we knew we had to win the game at Hereford to put ourselves in the best position, and I put everything emotionally and physically into that.
“But we’ve got over the line, so let’s enjoy it.
“I think there have been a few points where we’ve gone into the huddle before kick-off and I’ve said: ‘If we win today, it will get us the title’ and now we’ve done it.”