Stags put Clough back in the limelight after high scoring game

Stags put Clough back in the limelight after high scoring game

An English football result that caught the eye during the week came in League Two where Mansfield Town defeated Harrogate Town 9-2, an eyebrow-raising score even for fourth-tier football. It is the highest scoring Football League game since 2011.

The result which included a hat-trick from Hiram Boateng, saw the Stags, nicknamed after the deer in nearby Sherwood Forest, gallop into second place. It was all the more surprising in that Harrogate had been unbeaten in six games.

Mansfield are not a particularly well-known team but their manager Nigel Clough, son of Brian, has earned plaudits over the years both as a player and manager.

Clough, who has been at Mansfield since Nov 2020, said he wasn't that surprised at his Stags enjoying such a feast of goals. "To score nine is very special,'' he said. "It has been coming at times this season and it just clicked tonight."

This is Mansfield's 10th season in League Two after winning promotion from the Conference in 2013. The club's main aim is promotion to League One and they almost made it two seasons ago, losing to Newport County in the play-off final.

Amazingly Mansfield have won 9-2 once before, but it was a long time ago. Back in December 1932 they thrashed visitors Rotherham United by the same score in the old Third Division North.

Some might find it odd that with his background Clough is managing a fourth-tier team, but like his father Nigel is a strong character and committed to his task.

In his playing days, which included 14 caps for England, Nigel enjoyed a successful time as centre-forward at Nottingham Forest under his father who was the manager. Brian never called Nigel by his first name at the club, always referring to "the No.9." Even so it must have been extremely difficult for Nigel with his father being the boss.

During his time at Forest, Nigel scored 131 goals, the second-highest in the club's history. He was greatly appreciated at Forest and the Irish band, "The Sultans of Ping FC" wrote a song in his honour, Give Him a Ball and a Yard of Grass.

After Forest, Nigel moved on to Liverpool and Manchester City, but was severely hampered by injury. He eventually arrived at Southern League side Burton Albion as player-manager in 1998 aged only 32.

Nigel was at Burton for 10 years, taking them to the top of the Conference before moving from the Brewers to his father's old club Derby County. He was controversially sacked by the Rams in 2013. He had been the longest-serving Championship manager at that time, having spent more than four years at Pride Park.

He moved on for a relatively brief spell at Sheffield United, but rejoined the Brewers in 2015, taking them to the Championship where they stayed for two seasons, a wonderful achievement for such a small club.

When Nigel was first managing Burton his father suggested that his son might not be tough enough for management. "I'm fed up with people saying what a nice fine lad Nigel is," said Brian. "He doesn't get that from me. You have to be prepared to be unpopular and tell people things they don't want to hear."

On another occasion Brian observed: "He is not as bright as me, despite his A- levels... everybody likes him, so there's clearly something wrong."

Nigel's immediate task will be to bring his team down to earth after their goal-scoring spree and prepare for today's game at Walsall where he would no doubt settle for a 1-0 win.

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