League leaders AFC Mansfield may be checking their rear view mirror a bit more often than in recent weeks as Pontefract Collieries and Pickering Town join Handsworth Parramore in that chasing pack at the top of the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division-but after a comprehensive 9-0 home win over bottom side Clipstone on Saturday, Bulls Assistant Manager Mark Ward gave us his usual thoughtful, considered and respectful assessment of a big win for his players, and offered some advice for a youthful Cobras squad, writes Colin Muncie.
Mark told the Bootiful Game “I’ve got to say that I’m really proud of the lads on Saturday: their professionalism and attitude in how they approached the game and the way we stuck to the game plan was second to none. We did our homework, and had an idea of how we could hurt them and we executed it really well. Also, when we had the game won, we still did the right things -which was pleasing for me and probably why we scored as many as we did”.
Mark gave us an insight into how he’s approaching his role as Assistant To Rudy Funk at the Forest Town Stadium “You know, becoming an Assistant has been a blessing in disguise and a great learning curve for me-being an apprentice; learning my trade; acting like a sponge and soaking up as much as I can to give myself the best opportunity when the chance comes to be a Number One. Also, comparing how I’ve been treated by the two gaffers I’ve worked under so far is like chalk and cheese but both have been very helpful in moulding me to where I am now- and how I’ll treat the people I work with in future”.
Mark feels his own experience is hugely relevant to what’s going on at Clipstone right now, and he had some words of encouragement for their Management team. “I say all this because if anyone at Clipstone reads this -more so the players –they should realise that even though it’s a difficult time, they are gaining invaluable experience, especially the five or six 16- year olds who were involved. All this will give them an insight to where they will need to be if they want to continue to play at a decent level in Non-League”.
“Alan (Widdowson, Clipstone’s Manager) and Jamie (Hardwick, Assistant) are two good guys. I wish them all the best and I hope they can get the club moving back in the right direction”.