Mansfield Town v Guiseley: Cox builds for future as Lions bid for a Cup upset

Guiseley manager Paul Cox will probably have to settle for something rather less grand than an £85,000 Aston Martin Vantage Coupe if he masterminds an FA Cup upset tomorrow.

Guiseley manager Paul Cox
Guiseley manager Paul Cox

Famously, that was the decadent gift given to him by his former boss, Mansfield Town chairman John Radford when he orchestrated an 8-1 Conference win for the Stags against Barrow in February 2013 – having been challenged to eclipse a 7-0 victory over the Bluebirds achieved in the previous year.

Such largesse is somewhat unlikely from his current board if the Lions turn the tables on his former club Stags and rewrite FA Cup history for the second time in just under three weeks by reaching round three for the first time.

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But the sense of achievement will be considerable.

Then Mansfield boss Paul Cox with chairman John Radford, and chief exec Carolyn Stills

As for a ‘present’ from Radford? Well, a nice glass of wine might just have to suffice. But it would be an undeniably sweet one.

Whatever happens tomorrow, ultra-ambitious Cox, seeking to reconstruct Guiseley in much the same vein as he rebuilt the foundations of Mansfield during three and a half eventful years from May 2011 to November 2014, is eyeing bigger footballing prizes and riches.

But in the here and now there is still time for a touch of sentiment with a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane waiting at the One Call Stadium tomorrow.

It will be a special day not just for the Guiseley manager, but also for his wife Natasha, good friends with Mansfield CEO Carolyn Radford, wife of the chairman.

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans

It was Mrs Radford who played a leading role in the Cox’s famously getting married ahead of the Stags’ glamour FA Cup tie with Liverpool in January 2013 –with the happy couple agreeing to bring forward their nuptials if Mansfield beat Lincoln City in a second-round tie to book a marquee round-three date.

A wedding reception was held at Field Mill and, should Guiseley instigate a cup shock, there is likely to be an impromptu and euphoric party mood among the away followers too.

On meeting good friends, Cox told The Yorkshire Post: “Carolyn talks to the wife more than probably me and John talk.

“Those two have kept in contact, but they (the Radfords) have played a big part. I had my (wedding) reception around there and John sorted all that out and made it happen.

Then Mansfield boss Paul Cox with chairman John Radford, and chief exec Carolyn Stills

“It was John and Carolyn who actually cajoled us into getting married. That shows the level of background with us and the club.

“Whatever happens on Sunday, my wife will be sat with Carolyn in the directors’ box and win, lose or draw, I will have a glass of wine or beer with John and the board and may the best team win.

“It is exciting, romantic and what you want in a cup tie. I will have a drink and my wife and the two girls will be coming up and it will be nice to spend a little bit of time with them.

“But I don’t know, maybe John or (Mansfield manager) Steve (Evans) might want to go for a glass of wine somewhere else, which would be nice.”

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans

After toasting plenty of success during his time with the Stags – which saw him lead the Nottinghamshire club back into the Football League in 2013 after a five-year absence – the desire to spread his managerial wings saw Cox take flight elsewhere.

A driven individual who clearly loathes complacency and feels energised by moving out of his comfort zone, Cox has since managed at opposite ends of the country, in Torquay United and Barrow, before being enticed by the grand plans at Guiseley, seeking to consolidate as a full-time National League outfit, but with ultimate designs upon the Football League.

An avowed builder of clubs, right from cutting his managerial teeth at Eastwood Town, the 45-year-old is content in having left his previous places of employment in a better place than when he arrived, particularly with regard to Mansfield.

He added: “I will always have a sense of pride and look back at what I have done, at every club I have been at. I am probably lucky in that sense.

“I have a sense of overwhelming pride at what I achieved at Mansfield. People ask me why I left. I was probably in a comfort zone. I hero-worshipped the chairman and loved him to bits and had a great working relationship with him.

“But I needed to grow as a person and find myself and understand different parts of my game and I have educated myself – good and bad.

“About six weeks before I left Mansfield, the club was approached by a Championship club for my services. All these things add up and I am a very single-minded person and I will do something because I like to ask questions of myself.

“The reason I came to Guiseley, when I had a number of easier options, was that I am a believer that the people here want the club to grow and progress and I get an unbelievable sense of pride in developing clubs, the first team, the infrastructure and the kids.

“In terms of comparison with Mansfield, there’s a lot more to do at this football club, but that is why I came here. I had easier options to go abroad and do other things which would have been less challenging.”

In the here and now, Cox’s aim is making history with Guiseley and it is a challenge that sits well with him.

“We know what we are going to come up against – a team who have aspirations to get promoted,” said Cox. “But as I said before the last round, come the Monday, there will be some giant-killings. That is what the FA Cup does and if we approach the game right then you can cause an upset.”