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FANS: An unforgettable match day experience

25 February 2015

Season Ticket competition winner spends a day at the club

Season Ticket holder Elaine Lynch won a match day media experience in our annual festive draw here at Brunton Park and here, in her own words, are her thoughts on her day with the press at the Mansfield Town home game ...

To say I was like an 'excitable kid in a toy shop' was an understatement. I was about to enjoy a belated Christmas present, my prize from the CUFC season ticket holders Christmas Draw. But this was not your usual meat voucher, bottle of wine or box of chocolates Christmas offering, this was something completely different - I was about to spend match day with the club's media team and see what goes on behind the scenes to give us fans the whole game and post-game experience.

I chose the Mansfield game as the team stirred distant memories of a clash with the Blues 40 years ago. I was a student in Sheffield for our 'season in the sun' and went to the cup class with Mansfield with some uni friends. It has stuck in my memory because I spent most of the game watching from the side of the pitch, having fainted after being crushed against a barrier in the rush of supporters arriving just before kick-off!

On this match day, I arrived at the ground early and met Amy Nixon, who showed me to the Press Box, where I had a chat with Jon Colman on the trials and tribulations of the drama that is supporting CUFC. Amy does the Twitter feed during the game and I take my hat off to her - watching the game and giving us a short and precise running commentary is no mean feat.

I settled into the Press Box, high in the C Stand with a welcome cup of tea, expertly brewed by Jordan, and savoured the very quiet atmosphere before the gates open. This was a very different perspective on the game for me. My usual seat is on the half-way line, half-way up the East Stand where you get a more open and wider view of the pitch. Up in the gods, above the Paddock and Director's Box, the view is much narrower and obviously higher, but you do seem to be closer to the action.

There were a lot of school groups at the game and they seemed to be enjoying their tour of the pitch and photos in the dugout. A match day they will remember for a long time.

The press box is compact and basic and can be decidedly chilly when that bitter wind blows off Warwick Road. The perspex in front of where I was sitting and the closed door, helped a lot! Nine reporters and the Stats man filled the box with their recording equipment, laptops and notebooks at the ready. Andy Hall came over to see that I was OK before he settled into his area to report on the game. A very kind student reporter got me a pie with my complimentary food and drink voucher and I settled down to enjoy the warm up.

The goalkeepers were out first and it was a nice touch to see them greeting each other and having a little chat. The rest of the teams were out at 2.15pm and, by 2.45pm, the ground was filling up. The game went by so quickly and I really enjoyed it, a good win with some very exciting moments. I was probably heard whooping and cheering on BBC Radio Nottingham when we scored as I could hear their reporters commentating in the press box.

Immediately after the final whistle, I was in the press room to take part in the post-match press conference. There were three cameras and about ten people in quite a small room ready to interrogate the manager on the game. When he came in, I was introduced and Andy said that I would be 'grilling' him later. 

My first impression of Keith Curle was very favourable, he has a real presence about him, dressed in a very smart suit and willing to answer any question thrown at him, and Andy Hall and Jon Colman certainly did that. The questions just rolled off Andy's tongue with no notes and no hesitation. I was very impressed with his professionalism and the intensity of his approach. 

When it was my turn, I asked some more general questions that had arisen from his post-match comments on how to get the players mentally ready for the fight we have on our hands and also praised him and the team for one of the best games for a while - a gritty performance with flashes of class was my summing-up (which he liked!). 

The press conference lasted about 20 minutes and then Keith Curle had to go to speak to BBC Radio Cumbria. It is certainly intense for a manager after the game and they do have to think very much 'on their feet' but I for one was very impressed - he is a real gentleman.

I then had the chance to quiz our captain and our new signing Charlie Wyke, after his very important goal and, again, was impressed with their skill in front of the media, especially Danny Grainger who was very natural and answered questions in detail.

As part of the prize, I also attended the press conference a couple of days after the match, and transfer deadline day where again, Keith Curle was very generous with his time and answers. I got the opportunity to ask questions again and had prepared a couple, such as areas to work on after Saturday's game, how does the manager get the confidence in the players and how would he sum up his managerial style? The answer to the latter was - focused, professional and quirky (the blindfold task in training!) and that sums up what I found too. 

A manager focused on the tough task ahead, a backroom team focused on the job of delivering information, asking teasing questions, enhancing the match day experience for the fans and getting out into the community to raise the profile of the club, and all done with the utmost professionalism.

I had an absolutely fantastic experience and would like to thank Andy, Amy and CUFC for making me feel so welcome, and for a dream match day which I will never forget (and I chose a winning game too - perfect!).

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