“I should have used that as a wake up call to get back to my best sooner” – Mann reflects on career so far

Il Complesso Di Tadà, Sesame Street, The Muppets, Gloucester City fans. What do these four separate groups have in common? We’ll give you a minute…

Got it yet? We know it’s tricky.

If you answered “They’ve all sang versions of the popular 1960’s song ‘Mah Na Mah Na’ by Piero Umiliani”, then give yourself a pat on the back.

Unlike the other three in the list, the version adapted by the Tigers faithful probably hasn’t been heard by as many people as the others, but it’s probably one of the best.

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“It’s Adam Mann! Duh duh, duh duh duh! It’s Adam Mann! Duh duh duh duh!” the City fans would sing on the terraces when the forward would enter or leave the field of play, much to the amusement and delight of Mann; so much so he actually adopted it as his Twitter handle!

Making his full first team debut for the club away at Luton Town in the FA Trophy First Round, Mann was an up and coming youth player who had found himself starting in one of Gloucester’s biggest games in years. He couldn’t make his mark on that game, but later on that season he would truly announce himself to the Gloucester supporters.

Picture the scene: last day of the season. Gloucester had avoided relegation and were on their way to becoming an established Step Two side. The visitors to Whaddon Road were AFC Telford United who were play-off bound and had held a 2-0 lead earlier in the game. Telford struggled to clear their lines from a corner and then…

Mann, then 19, had his first goal in a City shirt and he probably hasn’t scored a better one since. We spoke to Mann, now 28 and at Bath City in the National League South, about his time at Gloucester and his career up to this point.

“As you can imagine, breaking through to the first team with Gloucester was massive for me” says Mann, although it wasn’t all plain sailing for him as he compares coming through at City to what it is like for young players now.

“It’s important to remember though that back then it took a good few months of training and being on the bench before getting a chance to play regularly.

“I feel that it’s different now” he continues. “I see a lot of players interchanging through clubs and not fighting for their spot in a team. As a younger player especially it’s important to be persistent and consistent with everything you do.

“My advice for any young player looking to break into a team is to be patient, work hard and not make money a factor that affects your judgement.”

At the end of his second season with Gloucester, Mann took the opportunity to go travelling in America. When he returned to the country he opted to join Shortwood United to get back into the English game.

The move came at a good time for Mann, as he admitted himself that joining the Nailsworth-based then-Southern League side helped him to rekindle his enjoyment of the game.

“At a time after three or four years at Gloucester, Shortwood came at a perfect time” he said. “Looking back at the squad that was there at the time, we were a lot better than the league we were in.”

Mann wheels away in celebration after scoring against Eastwood Town.

Despite having a strong squad on paper, league success was not on the cards for Shortwood and joint managers Alex Sykes and John Evans. It was in the FA Cup, though, where they would turn heads with a remarkable run to the First Round Proper, with Mann instrumental in getting them there having scored the winner in the previous round against Aldershot in a replay.

“The buzz it created before Port Vale was incredible” Mann recalls with fondness. “I remember all the lads having camera crews going to work with them to show their trades and we all had a really good laugh with it!

“Sykesy [Alex Sykes] and Evo [John Evans] took me back to basics at Shortwood and made me enjoy the game, which ultimately then led me back to my second spell with Tim Harris at Gloucester.”

Harris brought Mann back to the club he had started at in February 2014 with the Tigers desperately battling against relegation. The odd goal here and there from Mann helped Gloucester stay up but ultimately he was loaned out to Evesham in January 2015 where he would move permanently later in the season.

Questions over his fitness were persistently rearing their ugly head, with some fans even suggesting that Mann was overweight. It was around this time in his career that the soul-searching began and it was during his time at The Jubilee Stadium when he realised his passion was going and so he had to make a change for the better.

“The fitness shouts I have had over the couple of seasons, especially at Evesham, was something that never affected me mentally” he says. “However, I got into such a comfort zone and loss of love for the game I should have used that as a wake up call to get back to my best sooner.

“It was only until I looked at myself around Christmas time at aged 26 and thought: is this what I want to be doing until I retire? Everything was comfortable for me and I was still doing my job and scoring goals on a regular basis but I was not challenging myself at all.”

Mann in action for Evesham. Photo credit: Evesham United

At Evesham he found his goalscoring touch but it wasn’t without hard work. With that determination, Mann found the net 81 times in 169 games for The Robins and he was poached by Bath City to join the National League South side.

With a new lease on his football career, the time was right for Mann to make the step back up to the same level he started at with Gloucester.

“After making big change ups to my lifestyle and working hard again on a personal level in the gym, it’s led to where I am now with the opportunity at Bath, which was helped through by Colly [Paul Collicutt, then-Evesham manager] in fact” said Mann.

“With my love back and in the best shape I had ever been in, it was the perfect time to challenge myself back at Conference North/South level.

“It has been an amazing 18 months and a challenge to face every week which I am embracing. Although I do feel I am becoming the play-off voodoo after yet another season of making the play-offs and getting knocked out in the semi-final for the fourth time in five years!”

In his time at Bath, Mann has racked up over 50 appearances for the club so far.

Check out what happened when Ryan Butler went on the road with Longlevens for their FA Vase Second Round tie with Falmouth Town last weekend with his diary.

All photos are credited to Neil Phelps unless otherwise stated.