We’ll be revealing the finalists of our Club Renovation Programme over the next few weeks. In the meantime we go behind the scenes of Buildbase FA Trophy and Buildbase FA Vase clubs with non-league football champion and talkSPORT and Sky TV presenter Tony Incenzo.
AFC Mansfield 3 Hemsworth Miners Welfare 2
Where: Forest Town Arena, Clipstone Road West, Forest Town, Mansfield, Notts NG19 0EE
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday December 30 2017
Overview: My radio reporting match for this weekend was on the Friday night at Millwall versus QPR so that freed up my Saturday for some groundhopping. Unfortunately, poor weather conditions meant that many Non-League fixtures were being postponed. But I was pleased to hear that the match at AFC Mansfield was definitely on with no problems with the pitch whatsoever. It was a good match to look forward to as the host club were top of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division and Hemsworth Miners Welfare were in sixth spot.
History: AFC Mansfield were formed in June 2012 by three former directors of Football League club Mansfield Town FC. They have quickly progressed from the Central Midlands League with a couple of promotions up to the NCEL Premier Division. The club had a really good FA Cup run earlier this season, reaching the Third Round Qualifying where they lost 0-2 at home to former Football League club Boston United before a bumper crowd of 613 on September 30.
Ground description: This oval-shaped arena is an unusual football venue as it has a cycle track around the pitch. The main spectator facilities are on the clubhouse side with a covered grandstand plus some uncovered seating and terracing. AFC Mansfield are confident that they will meet the ground grading required for promotion to the Evo-Stik (Northern Premier) League.
Programme details: A decent 32 pages with good use of colour photography throughout. Up to date team sheets were also available at the entry gate.
The match: It turned out to be a really exciting affair. AFC Mansfield led 1-0 at half-time through Connor Smythe’s stunning free-kick on 13 minutes. I was right behind the goal for this one and I was very pleased to capture a photo as the ball nestled in the top corner of the net. Stefan Holt equalised for Hemsworth in the 56th minute before the home side scored again within a minute courtesy of Nicholas Guest. It was 2-2 on 70 minutes when Bradley Dockerty popped up for the second Hemsworth equaliser. But three minutes into injury time at the end, Cameron Dear grabbed the winner for AFC Mansfield following a crafty free-kick played around the side of the defensive wall.
The people: AFC Mansfield manager Rudy Funk has one of the best names in football for those of us who used to go nightclubbing in the 1980’s! Club chairman Andy Saunders told me that he prefers Non-League football to his previous role as a Mansfield Town director. “I now get much closer to the action,” he said. I was also given a warm welcome by Brian Stokes, who is AFC Mansfield’s enthusiastic and enterprising commercial manager.
You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo
The Buildbase Club Renovation Programme will provide two product bursaries of £50,000 each in building, electrical products and hire equipment to two clubs by the end of the 2017-18 season. We’ll announce the finalists over the coming weeks, for more information visit our website