Pym – A Keeper For Clough

Joining on a season-long loan last summer, making 42 appearances in all competitions for EFL League Two side, Mansfield Town, the Stags have made Christy Pym a permanent addition at the One Call Stadium, the shot-stopper signing a two-year contract from Peterborough United.

At 28-years-old, Pym registered an impressive, fourteen clean sheets in his debut season at the Nottinghamshire-based club, but how does he match up against some of the greats to have appeared between the sticks.

To move amongst the pantheon of Stags greats, those two years (three with the loan spell) will need to be stretching to five plus if he’s to break into the top, half dozen shot-stoppers to don what was once, the green number one.

Kevin Pilkington (200), Colin Treharne (212), Alan Marriott (220), and Kevin Hitchcock (224) have all made over 200 appearances for the club over the past sixty or so years, which is surprising when you consider the number one, at the top of the pile.

Dennis Wright stands in second place for the most number of appearances by a goalkeeper, donning the jersey 399 times between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s, however, the clubs record appearance holder is also a shot-stopper, the West Midlands-born, Rod Arnold, who, during his two spells at the club, during the 1970s and early-1980s, would make an impressive, 513 appearances.

In joining the Stags, permanently, Pym said: “I’m delighted to get this done.

“I loved it here last season and knew halfway through that I wanted to stay here.

“This is a good club, with a good fan-base.

“I get along really well with the manager and the staff which helps to.

“I’ve felt at home here and my family have settled really well so it’s the perfect place for me to be.”

Pym’s permanent signing will see the ex-Peterborough ‘keeper challenging that of Scott Flinders, Owen Mason, and Louie Turner, for a space in the starting eleven this coming season, one which they hope will see that increasingly-elusive, promotion, take place.

Already boasting more than a decade in the game, Pym was born in Exeter, in the mid-nineties, moving through the ranks at his hometown club, Exeter City, and was captain of their Under-18s before turning professional, under their then, Maltese-born manager, Paul Tisdale, in 2013.

Making more than 150 appearances for The Grecians, Pym would move to Peterborough in 2019, spending the latter stages of the 2021-22 season on-loan at Stevenage Borough, thus reuniting with Tisdale, before last summers’ loan to Mansfield, impressing much.

But what of the other six shot-stoppers, those that have made 200+ appearances for the Stags down the years, Pilkington and Treharne, Marriott and Hitchcock, Wright and Arnold.

KEVIN PILKINGTON currently the goalkeeping coach at Premier League new-boys, Luton Town, Pilkington’s career last more than 25 years and would see him play for clubs like Manchester United, Mansfield Town, Notts County, and Luton Town. His time in Nottinghamshire would see the shot-stopper have four spells (two apiece), between 2000 and 2017, racking up 200 appearances for the Stags, and 150+ for the Pies.

COLIN TREHARNE one of two, elder statesman on the list, he having been born in the late 1930s, in Bridgend, Wales. Treharne would play more than 200 games for the Stags during the early 1960s before spells, in the latter part of the decade, at Lincoln City and Ilkeston Town.

ALAN MARRIOTT Bedford-born Marriott, his career went the opposite direction to Treharne’s, some three decades later. The former Tottenham Hotspur trainee would begin his career at White Hart Lane in the late nineties, before racking up over 350 appearances for the Imps in a near ten-year spell, playing in five, play-off campaign and, at one point, would make 140 consecutive appearances for them. After a year at Rushden & Diamonds, Marriott would move to Mansfield in 2009 and, over the next five seasons, would make more than 200 appearances for the Stags, be an FA Trophy finalist (2011), Conference National play-off semi-finalist (2012), and Conference National winner (2013), the latter when winning the title by just two points from eventual runners-up, Kidderminster Harriers.

KEVIN HITCHCOCK now the goalkeeping coach at Major League Soccer side, New England Revolution, Hitchcock would play Premier League football during his tenure with Chelsea, they coming after his spells in Nottinghamshire, Initially Hitchcock would sign for Nottingham Forest in the early 1980s, and being first, loaned, to Mansfield, in 1984, signing permanent later that year, going on to make more than 220 appearances for the club during the mid-eighties.

DENNIS WRIGHT born in Boythorpe, Derbyshire, Wright is the eldest of the six shot-stoppers and, although he could have easily played many more but for the outbreak of the Second World War, still manged to play near 400 times for the Stags. Initially joining in 1939, he’s have to wait until 1946 before making his debut for the club, by which time he’d served in Northern Ireland, with the British Army, and made wartime appearances for both Glenavon, and Nottingham Forest. In the decade or so he did get to pull on the Stags’ number one jersey, Wright would, at the time of his retirement in the late fifties, hold the club record for appearances – but for the war, could it have been more?

And then there’s a certain, ROD ARNOLD, a shot-stopper who, despite being born in, and having begun his career at, his hometown club, Wolverhampton Wanderers, as back-up for Wolves legend, Phil Parkes, initially joined Mansfield on-loan in 1971, playing the second half of the 1970-71 season. Returning to Wolves for another two years still saw minimal progression and Arnold was snapped up, permanently, by the Stags, in 1973, spending the next decade as the clubs’ first choice ‘keeper. During his time with the club he’d help them lift two championships, the old Fourth Division (1975), when finishing six clear of Shrewsbury Town, and the old Third Division (1977) two years later, three ahead of Brighton & Hove Albion, immortalising himself in the clubs’ pantheon of greats. That’s a statement that was added to by his, smashing, of Wright’s appearance record, and by some margin, going on to make 515 appearances for the club before finally retiring in 1984.

In Christy Pym though, Stags supremo, Nigel Clough, has certainly got a first-choice shot-stopper for the next couple of years, and, however many appearances are made, depends on both injuries, and those behind him in the pecking order.

Clough though, is certainly an admirer of his new ‘keeper, saying of the signing: “It’s no secret that Christy has been our number one target and we’re delight to get his permanent deal over the line.

“He did exceptionally well for us last season.

“We didn’t want to disrupt the goalkeeping department from last season so it’s good to keep together Christy, Scott Flinders, Owen Mason, and now Louie Turner.”

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc Christy Pym signs for Stags on a two year permanent deal.

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