Former Notts County skipper Neal Bishop unsure what reception he will get at Mansfield Town derby

Mansfield's Neal Bishop battles with Stevenage's Danny Newton
Mansfield's Neal Bishop battles with Stevenage's Danny Newton

Former Notts County star Neal Bishop has no idea what sort of reception he will receive when he goes back with Mansfield Town for the big local derby on Saturday.

Veteran Bishop spent four happy years with the Magpies and is willing them on to survive this season.

But he said those sentiments would be shelved while he tries to help Stags into top spot in the 1pm kick-off.

Bishop said: “I am not sure what sort of reception I will get as I have never been back. But I am not really bothered.

“It’s not something I have really thought about. Boo, cheer, indifference, it doesn’t really affect what we’ve got to try to do on Saturday.

“When you are on the pitch you are never really aware of the noise that’s going on around you. You have to be fully focused.

“Obviously, personally, Notts County mean a lot to me. I am probably the only person in Mansfield that wants to see them stay up this season.

“If they boo me for 90 minutes it won’t change my feelings about that football club.

“But I am a Mansfield player now. Any thoughts like that go out the window this weekend.

“I don’t want to see them go down. That’s the last thing I want after spending four years there and being captain of the club.

“But we can worry about that after Saturday and I am just looking forward to playing there again.

“It’s not about me or Pearcy (Krystian Pearce) or Jorge (Grant) – we’ve all played for Notts County. It’s about this football club going there and trying to get three points.”

He admitted: “It will feel strange. I’ve never been in the away dressing room at Meadow Lane.

“It will be interesting, but I am experienced enough. There is no sentiment and I wouldn’t expect them to feel any for me. We are rivals for 90 minutes, win, lose or draw. After that I will wish them nothing but the best.

“I have some great memories from my time there - obviously promotion and we had some great FA Cup times. Captaining the oldest Football League club was a great honour and fantastic for me personally.

“I left there on good terms with everyone at the club. But I had a massive opportunity to go and play in the Championship at the age of 31.

“I’d been loyal to the club as I’d had plenty of opportunities to leave but I’d never forced anything.

“But when this chance came it just seemed like a natural time to go.

“I don’t regret not leaving before that and I don’t regret leaving when I did as I had a fantastic season in the Championship with Blackpool.”

After making eight new signings in January, Notts have picked up four points from their last two games to edge to within four points of safety.

“Notts have recruited very well. I think they’ve had to,” said Bishop.

“When they came here you could feel the negativity around the club. I spoke to some of the people down there and it was all doom and gloom.

“But the January signings have completely turned the mood around. They are on a bounce certainly. But it doesn’t affect the way we’ll go about the game or our planning.

“What Notts are doing is giving themselves a chance, especially with their results in the last couple of weeks.

“Personally I am pleased for them. I don’t want to see them out of the Football League. - it’s the last thing I want.

“But that is put to bed this week. Whatever they are doing, that’s their business. We are completely focused on how we are going to win this game on Saturday.”