Wrexham vs Mansfield Town’s self-made husband-and-wife team

Piece-by-piece, though, the Radford’s rebuilt. “You’ve got to have building blocks to make it sustainable,” Carolyn says. At first her role was largely behind the scenes, “before I was thrown to the….”

Both she and John burst into laughter. They are a warm, devoted couple, who frequently either finish each other’s sentences or defer to the other’s wisdom. Carolyn is referencing her appointment as English football’s youngest chief executive back in 2011.

Since then, Mansfield have returned to the Football League (as Conference Champions in 2013). The ground has been re-purchased. A new training centre – the RH Academy – has been built with pitches for hire and a community function room. “It’s a massive part of things,” Carolyn explains. “The idea that people feel really involved in the football club. It’s cliché but it feels like one big family. It’s tribal almost.”

John’s eyes twinkle as he explains his joy at seeing “the people of Mansfield proud of the club again” adding: “So many people walk around town in Stags tops. You say about Wrexham’s stadium being full – it’s exactly the same at Mansfield.”

Then Carolyn quips: “Except we’ve not got the documentary,” John adds: “Can we have a Hollywood star please?”.

‘Nigel Clough’s so lovely, very measured and low key’

Perhaps Mansfield do not need those trimmings. True, on the field there has been a decade of stasis. But under Nigel Clough they were an agonising play-off final defeat to Port Vale away from League One in 2022, and now – thanks to boasting both the best scoring record in the league and its leanest defence – automatic promotion is tantalisingly close.

Throughout Clough, perhaps in a trait inherited from his late, great father Brian, has been unwavering in his belief that one should never ride too high, nor sink too low. See, for example, comments earlier in the campaign where he suggested celebrations should be reserved for the end of games, if not the end of seasons.

Easier in theory than in practice – his side have scored four or more six times, including last month’s club record equalling 9-2 victory over Harrogate. “Nigel is very good for that,” Carolyn explains. “He’s so lovely, very measured and low key. He makes sure no one gets ahead of themselves. It’s not over yet, and even when it is, I can’t imagine Nigel getting… well, he’s been around football his whole life.”

For owners, keeping emotion in check is unthinkable. “It doesn’t do much for my anxiety levels,” Carolyn admits. “But I love seeing my three boys – with the passion and energy we’ve passed onto them – enjoying the fruit of the hard work that has come before them. It makes me happy when I see them loving it.”

John argues: “I’m getting more tempered now, losing is not the end of the world” before Carolyn interjects: “It is,” adding: “both of us are the same – we’ve learned to avoid each other for 24 hours.”

“Just a little break,” John concludes. Fortunately, those domestic mini breaks have been few and far between this season, and, with a six point lead over fourth-placed MK Dons, a small handful more wins will make for a glorious season.

“It’s been the team I’ve supported all my life,” John says. “I’m so proud to be the chairman to help guide the club as it navigates the leagues. Hopefully will be our season. But we are not counting any chickens.”

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