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Midfielder to relish derby atmosphere

6 December 2018

Stags’ midfielder Neal Bishop says he is looking forward to playing in the derby atmosphere of Saturday’s eagerly-awaited clash between Mansfield and Notts County at One Call Stadium.

Bishop spent four seasons with the Magpies, before joining the Stags via Scunthorpe United in the summer.

The central midfielder says that the ‘fantastic’ backing of the Stags’ faithful will help Mansfield achieve their goal of victory this weekend.

“If you can’t enjoy games like Saturday, you shouldn’t be in football,” Bishop said. “There’ll be a good crowd in here and the pitch here is immaculate.

“We have to remember what we are good at, which is getting the ball down and playing football. If we do that to 100% of our ability, and match their work rate, we should win the football match. Football isn’t that simple, though.

“I’ve played in games before when you’re holding on, or have a lead, and you need that little boost [from the supporters]. Even an extra one or two per cent can make a difference.

“I’ve played in derbies and the atmosphere is always great and our supporters will come down in big numbers and really back us.

“Our supporters have been fantastic. They’ve got behind the team and me massively this season, and I can only thank them for that.

"I’ve played in derbies and the atmosphere is always great and our supporters will come down in big numbers and really back us."

Neal Bishop, midfielder

“I’ve no doubt that the supporters will be with us for the full 90 minutes on Saturday. It’s how clubs get promoted, when people come together.”

The 37-year-old added that despite having fond memories of his time with the Magpies, he is ‘fully focused’ on victory with Mansfield this weekend.

“With my past there [Notts] it’s always going to be a special game and one I’m really looking forward to,” Bishop said.

“For me, it’s not just about Notts County, it’s about getting three points. Our season won’t be defined by two league games, as we’re more than that.

“I’m fully focused on what we’re trying to do this season. As soon as Tuesday night’s game [against Bury] was over I was fully focused on beating this lot [Notts] on Saturday.

“We’re going to be judged come May where we finish in the league. We’re out of the cup, so we have no excuse, and we have a lot of games coming up.

“We’re fully focused on what we are trying to achieve here. We’re disappointed that we haven’t had a cup run, so the league is our sole focus and we have no excuses.

“For me, it [Saturday] is about three points, it doesn’t matter who is in front of you. You get the three points, and everything – like the bragging rights – comes after.

“I’m buzzing for the game and can’t wait. But at the minute, you can’t get too far ahead of yourself, and focus on getting the win.”

Bishop reflected on his time with the Magpies, and drew similarities from their 2009-10 title-winning squad to this season’s Stags’ side.

“I can only look back fondly [at my time at Notts],” he added. “I’ve got no real bad memories of my time there. For four years, they sang my name and I can’t thank them enough for that.

“I do wish them the best, but I hope we beat them here [One Call Stadium] on Saturday and give our supporters a day to remember.

“At one time at Notts after Christmas, we only had about 16 players. We had about the same XI for the next 18 games and we went on to win the league, so it was a massive effort.

“The club was on its back at one point but they steadied the ship. It was a great atmosphere there and we all dug together.

“That [team spirit] is developing [at Mansfield]. Portugal helped in the summer as we all went away and bonded. It’s easy to get along with everyone.

“We have great character, especially at Lincoln last week when the boys were on their backs. With the injuries and sickness that we were carrying, it was a massive, massive effort to battle and get the point.

“It [Mansfield squad] has all the hallmarks of a team that should be up there come the end of the season.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Bishops’ interview in full by logging into later today.

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