A look at what happened to the Division Three Play-Off team of 2003/04.
Eleven years to the day since that memorable Division Three Play-Off Final defeat to Huddersfield Town in the Millennium Stadium, we take a look at what happened to the Stags’ team from that day…
Kevin Pilkington – Boasting a wealth of experience, Kevin Pilkington was the backbone of our team in the 2003/04 campaign and put in many top drawer performances en route to the play-offs. He joined Notts County just over a year later and spent four years with the Magpies, before moving to Luton Town. After three years at Luton, he returned to Meadow Lane where he is currently goalkeeping coach.
Bobby Hassell – An exciting full-back who boasted plenty of pace, Bobby Hassell was a star of our team just over a decade ago, but another player who departed the club in the wake of this game. He joined Barnsley and subsequently spent over 10 years in South Yorkshire – helping the Oakwell outfit win promotion from League One in 2005/06 and reach the FA Cup semi-finals two seasons later. Now 34, Hassell is playing and coaching for Indian Premier League team Bharat F.C. Nevertheless, he is expected to return to this country at some point later this year for his testimonial.
Rhys Day – A hugely popular figure amongst fans, Rhys Day put in over 100 assured displays in the amber and blue colours, before joining Aldershot Town in July 2006. He helped the Shots to the Conference Premier title in 2007/08, prior to joining Oxford United a year later. He briefly returned to One Call Stadium – making his second debut for us in a draw with Darlington in October 2010, before announcing his retirement from the professional game. Recently, he was playing part-time and coaching at Hyde F.C. but departed Ewen Fields in January.
Alex Baptiste – Racking up 28 appearances during the 2003/04 campaign, full-back Alex Baptiste spent a further four seasons with us before agreeing terms on a move to Blackpool in June 2008. He went on to help the Seasiders win promotion to the Premier League in 2009/10, then moved to Bolton Wanderers three years later. Now at Sky Bet Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers, he featured on 34 occasions last term. Overall, Baptiste has made 471 career outings.
Adam Eaton – Injuries hampered the career of Adam Eaton who made just 28 appearances for us before being forced to hang up his boots in 2005 because of a hip problem. Now 35, the former defender is living back in the North-West where he was last reported to be working as an estate agent.
Liam Lawrence – The-Retford born winger was the undoubted star in 2003/04. After bagging over 20 goals in all competitions, he joined Sunderland on a free transfer during the close-season – a tribunal later ruled that the Black Cats had to pay £175,000 under the Bosman Ruling – and helped them win promotion the following year. He then played in the Premier League for Sunderland, later joining and winning promotion to the top flight with Stoke City. Following stints with Portsmouth, Cardiff City (loan), PAOK Saloniki and Barnsley, he joined Shrewsbury Town a year ago and achieved the fourth promotion of his career in the season just gone.
Tom Curtis – A cultured midfielder who made over 100 appearances for us. He departed One Call Stadium only a few months after Carlton Palmer took charge and went on to play for Chester City – incidentally under his old manager Keith Curle, Notts County, Nuneaton Borough and Alfreton Town. Since hanging up his boots, he had a spell in charge of Antigua & Barbuda, then was appointed as Bristol Rovers’ academy manager in November 2012. Late last year, he left his post at the Memorial Stadium to take up a position working as a youth coach educator at the Football Association.
Leroy Williamson – Now 32, the midfielder is currently plying his trade at Sky Bet Championship side Blackburn Rovers. He left us to join Northampton Town in the early weeks of the 2004/05 campaign, then had spells at Rotherham United, Watford, Preston North End (loan), Sheffield United and Portsmouth. In total, he has made 544 career appearances and has played against all but a handful of the current 92 clubs in the Premier League and Football League.
Wayne Corden – One of the favourite players amongst supporters owing to his skilful displays, Wayne Corden was a virtual ever-present in 2003/04. The tricky winger spent a further campaign at the club following this game, before joining Scunthorpe United ahead of their first season in League One. He then moved to Leyton Orient, but has played for a whole host of non-league teams since his departure from Brisbane Road in 2008. Now working as a school teacher during the week, Corden spent time playing for Midland League side Rocester in 2014/15.
Craig Disley – A cultured midfielder who made in excess of 150 appearances in amber and blue colours, Craig Disley left us only a few weeks after this game to join League Two rivals Bristol Rovers. He spent five seasons at the Memorial Stadium – memorably helping the Pirates to promotion in the first ever play-off final at the new Wembley Stadium, before moving to Shrewsbury Town. Now 33, he is currently playing for Grimsby Town and endured play-off agony this year as his current club were beaten on penalties by Bristol Rovers in the Vanarama Premier Final – thus being denied a return to the Football League.
Junior Mendes – After playing 65 times in a year-and-a-half with us, Junior Mendes departed One Call Stadium in the wake of this game – eventually signing for our conquerors Huddersfield Town. After a frustrating time in West Yorkshire, which saw him used mainly from the bench, he penned terms with Notts County, then had a permanent spells at Aldershot Town. Now living in Scotland, the 38-year-old is a qualified Sports Scientist and works part-time at St Mirren. He is also a personal trainer at Pure Gym in Glasgow and Head of Sports Science for the Montserrat national team.
James Coates – A young shot-stopper who was a regular on the substitutes bench, James Coates left us in the mid-2000s and spent time at various non-league clubs including Burton Albion (then in the Conference Premier), Moor Green, Worcester City, Northwich Victoria and Welsh Premier League side Rhyl F.C. He joined Altrincham in August 2010 and featured on a handful of occasions. Most recently at The New Saints, following a spell at Airbus UK, he works as an Account Manager for a Manchester-based IT company.
David Artell – A reliable centre-back who spent two seasons at One Call Stadium. The Yorkshireman left us to join former boss Keith Curle at Chester City in 2005, then had a three-year spell at Morecambe. Later with Crewe Alexandra, Port Vale and Northampton Town, he joined Wrexham and was memorably sent-off against us on the final day of the 2012/13 season when we beat the Red Dragons to secure promotion to the Football League. Now playing part-time in the Welsh Premier League for Bala Town, the 34-year-old has also gained international honours with Gibraltar in the past couple of years.
Neil MacKenzie – Another of those to depart in the aftermath of this game, Neil MacKenzie spent four-and-a-half years away from One Call Stadium – appearing for various clubs including Macclesfield Town, Port Vale and Notts County, before returning midway through the 2008/09 campaign. Off the pitch, MacKenzie also became the first footballer to appear on the TV show Countdown, back in 2008. In more recent times, the midfielder has been playing for Evo-Stik Premier Division outfit Halesowen Town.
Laurent D’Jaffo – Signed on a short-term deal towards the end of the campaign, Laurent D’Jaffo was an instant hit amongst supporters as he scored the winner on his debut against Hull City. He made 11 appearances in total, before returning to France after this game. The former Benin international, now 44, has been working as a football agent in recent years.
Colin Larkin – Scorer of the winning penalty in the epic play-off semi-final success against Northampton Town, the ‘fox in the box’ frontman spent three years in North Nottinghamshire before making the move to local rivals Chesterfield. He then had a two-year spell at Northampton, spanning from 2007 to 2009, before enjoying three seasons at Hartlepool United during their days in League One. After a spell at Lincoln City in 2012/13, the Irishman returned to the North-East to appear for Gateshead. He recently took up a player/coaching role at Northern League club Sunderland RCA.