Newport County A.F.C.
|Full name||Newport County
Association Football Club
|Nickname(s)||The Exiles, The Ironsides, The Port, The County|
|Founded||1912 (reformed 1989)|
|Capacity||7,850 (including 1,300 away)|
|2012–13||Conference Premier, 3rd
(promoted via play-offs)
|Website||Club home page|
Newport County Association Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Newport, South Wales. The club participates in Football League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. Most recently reformed in 1989, the club is a continuation of the Newport County club which was founded in 1912 and was a founder member of the Football League's new Third Division in 1920.
Newport County were Welsh Cup winners in 1980 and subsequently reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup in 1981. The club was relegated from the Football League in 1988 and went out of business in February 1989. The club reformed shortly afterwards and entered the English football league system at a much lower level. The club achieved promotion to the Conference Premier for the 2010–11 season, the same level they played at prior to the original club's bankruptcy in 1989. In 2013, Newport beat Wrexham FC in the Football League play-off final 2–0 to return to the Football League for the first time since 1988.
- 1 1912–1988
- 2 1989 Onwards
- 3 Mascot
- 4 Fans
- 5 Honours and records
- 6 Players
- 7 Former managers
- 8 Kit manufacturers and sponsors
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
- 12 Sources
Rise through the league
Newport County, originally nicknamed "The Ironsides" due to Newport being home to Lysaght's Orb Works steel works, started out in the Southern League in 1912 at Somerton Park. The official name of the club was The Newport & Monmouth County Association Football Club, although the shorter Newport County was soon adopted. The club were reformed in 1919 and were first elected to the Football League in 1920. They were not re-elected after the 1930–31 season but rejoined for 1932–33. After almost twenty years in the Third Division South, the club finally clinched promotion to the Second Division as champions in 1939.
Hopes were high that the championship-winning side could prosper in the Second Division, but only three games were played of the 1939–40 season due to the outbreak of World War II. Newport County managed a 1–1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur and a 3–1 win over Southampton, finishing joint 9th out of 22 in the abandoned season. The War League operated for the remainder of the 1939–40 season and County finished 10th in the South-West Division.
After the war, the club reformed and competed in the temporary Football League South for the 1945–46 season. On the resumption of national league football for the 1946–47 season Newport resumed their place in the Second Division but the reshaped team suffered a host of defeats – including a joint Football League record 13–0 defeat at Newcastle United. Newcastle player Len Shackleton remarked "they were lucky to get nil". Despite victories over Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham, the club needed four wins out of the last four games to have any hope of safety. Despite a revenge victory over Newcastle United, defeats to Birmingham City, Luton Town and Manchester City sealed their fate. County finished bottom of the Second Division and were relegated. However, during this lean period Newport did reach the 5th round of the FA Cup in 1949, the furthest they have gone in the competition. They only narrowly lost the game 3–2 away to Portsmouth, the eventual FA Cup semi-finalists and First Division champions that season.
The basement Division
After eleven further seasons in the Third Division South, the club narrowly avoided another effective relegation with the creation of the Fourth Division for the 1958–59 season. The bottom twelve teams from the Third Division North and South were placed in the new division, with the remainder forming the revived Third Division. County avoided this fate by a mere four points. However, in 1962, with only seven wins all season, the club were relegated to the Fourth Division — their home for the next 18 years.
In the 1959–60 season, County were drawn with Tottenham Hotspur – a top English side – in the FA Cup third round. The game was played in heavy snow at White Hart Lane, and although County lost 4–1 their goal came from an incredible 35-yard effort by Ken Hollyman. This forced the score-line to 1–2, giving County the hope that they could force an upset and inflict a replay or even defeat upon Bill Nicholson's men (who were double winners a year later). However, two late goals for Tottenham ended County's hopes of pulling off a shock result.
In the 1970–71 season Newport set an unwanted Football League record by not winning any of their first 25 matches, losing 21 in the process. In the same season Newport equalled the worst defeat of a Football League club by a non-league club when they lost 6–1 to Barnet in the FA Cup First Round. Results improved in the following season and in the 1972–73 season the Newport team managed by Billy Lucas missed out on promotion only on goal average.
Promotion, cup glory and European run
The 1980s heralded both the brightest and darkest moments in Newport County's history. Len Ashurst was manager from 1978–1982, the club's most successful period in its history and under the Chairmanship of Richard Ford. In 1980, promotion was finally achieved from the Football League Fourth Division, the club being only five points from being crowned champions. County sealed promotion in the last match of the season with a 4–2 win at high-flying Walsall. Walsall finished second in the league and were also promoted.
The team included a young John Aldridge who later became one of the most prolific goal-scorers in English football history, most famous for helping Liverpool win the First Division title in 1988 and FA Cup in 1989, as well as helping Oxford United win two successive promotions and the Football League Cup.
Also in the promotion-winning team was Tommy Tynan, one of the leading lower-league strikers of his era, who scored the all-important goal that sealed County's promotion. Steve Lowndes and Nigel Vaughan went on to attain international caps for Wales. This was also the year that County won the Welsh Cup, entitling them to play in the 1980–81 season European Cup Winners' Cup.
The cup run turned out to be quite eventful — the first round against Crusaders of Northern Ireland was won 4–0 on aggregate (4–0 at home and 0–0 away). The second round against SK Haugar of Norway was even more convincing: after a 0–0 draw away, the home leg was won 6–0, taking the club into the quarter-finals against Carl Zeiss Jena F.C. of East Germany. Despite Aldridge being injured for both matches against Carl Zeiss Jena, the quarter-final away leg was drawn 2–2, with Tommy Tynan scoring both goals. Tynan's equaliser was in the 90th minute. However, despite dominating the home leg, Newport lost 1–0 in front of 18,000 fans at Somerton Park, denying them a high profile semi-final with S.L. Benfica. Carl Zeiss Jena went on to be the eventual cup runners-up, losing the final to Dinamo Tbilisi of the Soviet Union.
The Newport County squad for the home leg was: 1 Gary Plumley, 2 Richard Walden, 3 John Relish, 4 Grant Davies, 5 Keith Oakes (Captain), 6 Tommy Tynan, 7 Nigel Vaughan, 8 Steve Lowndes, 9 Dave Gwyther, 10 Karl Elsey, 11 Kevin Moore, 12 Neil Bailey, 13 Steve Warriner, 14 Dave Bruton, 15 Bobby Ward, 16 Mark Kendall.
In the 1982–83 season Colin Addison, in his second spell as manager, led Newport County to their highest post-war league finish – just four points behind third-placed Huddersfield Town in the Third Division. Huddersfield were promoted to the Second Division, along with champions Portsmouth and local rivals Cardiff City. County had actually gone top of the table in early April after a win over Cardiff in front of 16,052 fans at Somerton Park, but a return of only four points from the last seven games meant County missed out on promotion. County faced First-Division team Everton in the third round of the 1982–83 FA Cup. After a 1–1 draw at Newport, Everton won the replay 2–1.
Freefall and bankruptcy
The decade ended in a less glamorous way. Despite reaching the Welsh Cup final, County were relegated from the Third Division in 1987 and in 1988 finished bottom of the Fourth Division with a mere 25 points, meaning that their 60 season stay in the Football League was over. They failed to finish their first season in the Conference and finally went out of business on 27 February 1989 with debts of £330,000. They were then expelled from the Conference for failing to fulfil their fixtures. Their record (four wins, seven draws and 19 points from 29 games) was expunged. There were rumours at the time of a foreign takeover bid for ownership of the club which would have prevented them going out of business. However, it later emerged that the potential investors had believed Newport County A.F.C. was in fact Newcastle United Football Club and subsequently withdrew their interest.
The BBC Wales current-affairs programme Week In Week Out broadcast a documentary in 1989 about the winding up of Newport County and its controversial owner at the time, American Jerry Sherman.
Reformation and exile
In June 1989 the club was reformed by 400 supporters including David Hando as Chairman and who would later be appointed club President. Former manager John Relish was re-appointed team manager and they were elected to the Hellenic League (then four divisions below the Football League). The club's main aim was to regain the Football League status lost in 1988. The club took on the name "Newport A.F.C." and adopted the nickname "The Exiles", as a result of the need to play the 1989–90 season home matches in the north Gloucestershire town of Moreton-in-Marsh, around 80 miles northeast of Newport. Newport Council had considered the new company to be a continuation of the old and refused permission to use Somerton Park on the grounds of unpaid rent.
They won the Hellenic Double, winning promotion to the Southern League. After the 1990–91 and 1991–92 seasons back home in Newport at Somerton Park, the Football Association of Wales consigned them to a further two seasons of exile, ground-sharing at Gloucester City's Meadow Park stadium for 1992–93 and 1993–94. The club was forced to resort to legal action to protect themselves from being forced out of the English football league system by FAW secretary Alun Evans who was promoting the League of Wales formed for the 1992–93 season. That litigation proved successful, a landmark High Court verdict enabling them to have a permanent home in Newport at the then newly built Newport Stadium.
The club's first season back in Newport, in 1994–95, saw them promoted to the Southern League Premier Division by winning the Midland Division Championship by a 14-point margin; on the way to that championship, the club set a then Southern League record by winning 14 successive league matches.
In the 2001–02 season the team managed by Tim Harris reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time since the club was reformed, drawing Second Division side Blackpool. Holding them to a 2–2 draw away, County lost the home replay 4–1 after extra time. The following season, then managed by Peter Nicholas, Newport reached the final of the FAW Premier Cup beating Swansea City and Cardiff City along the way before losing 6–1 in the final against Wrexham.
Subsequent reorganisation of the upper divisions of non-league football saw County take their place in the 2004–05 inaugural season of Conference South, one of the two feeder divisions into the Football Conference. Peter Beadle was appointed manager in October 2005 and in the 2006–07 season Newport again reached the first round proper of the FA Cup but lost 3–1 to Swansea City. In the same season, Newport reached the final of the FAW Premier Cup for the second time, beating Wrexham along the way but losing 1–0 to TNS in the final. In 2006–07 Newport finished just one position below the playoffs after losing 2–1 to Cambridge City on the final day of the season.
In the 2007–08 season, Newport won the last-ever FAW Premier Cup beating Llanelli 1–0 in the final, making a total of one win out of three finals. For the second consecutive season a last-day defeat prevented County reaching the Conference South playoffs. In April 2008 Peter Beadle was sacked as club manager, and was replaced by Dean Holdsworth.
In his first full season in charge, Holdsworth led Newport to a 10th place finish in the league, despite a poor start. Newport went top of the league in September of the 2009–10 season and held onto the top spot for the rest of the season. The league title was won in March 2010 after beating Havant and Waterlooville 2–0 at Newport Stadium with seven league games remaining. The win made them the first team in the English football leagues to achieve promotion in the 2009–10 season. County finished the season with a Conference South record 103 points, 28 ahead of nearest rivals Dover Athletic.
Newport County were promoted to the Conference Premier for the 2010–11 season, the level they played at prior to bankruptcy in 1989. Dean Holdsworth left Newport County to become team manager of League Two team Aldershot Town on 12 January 2011 with Newport County in fifth place in the Conference Premier table. Tottenham Hotspur reserve-team coach Anthony Hudson was announced as the new manager on 1 April 2011. The team finished their first season back in the Conference Premier league in 9th place.
After a poor start to the 2011–12 season with the team last-but-one in the table after picking up just a single win out of the first 12 games, Hudson was sacked on 28 September 2011. He was replaced by Justin Edinburgh with the task of saving County from relegation. Under Edinburgh County finished in 19th place and so maintained their Conference Premier status. They also reached the 2012 FA Trophy Final and their first Wembley Stadium appearance coincided with the 100th anniversary of the club. County lost the final 2–0 to York City who went on to secure promotion to the Football League a week later in a Wembley play-off match.
In May 2012, Newport County announced that they had agreed a deal to move to the city's rugby stadium, Rodney Parade. In August 2012 EuroMillions lottery winner Les Scadding succeeded Chris Blight as club Chairman.  In February 2013 a further 10-year lease to play at Rodney Parade was signed.
Return to the Football League
The centenary 2012–13 season saw Newport County finish third in the Conference Premier league, reaching the play-offs for the first time. A 2–0 aggregate win over Grimsby Town in the two-legged play-off semi-final saw Newport County reach the 2013 Conference Premier play-off Final at Wembley Stadium. The final versus Wrexham was the first Wembley final to feature two Welsh teams, and Newport County won 2–0 to return to the Football League after a 25-year absence with promotion to League Two. County were awarded Freedom of the City of Newport on 17 August 2013 in recognition of this achievement.
Newport County draws its main support from the city of Newport but also the wider surrounding historic Monmouthshire area, as reflected in the original club name of Newport & Monmouth County A.F.C. The club's supporters refer to themselves as the 'Amber Army' in reference to the traditional club colour, and the sporting colours more widely associated with Newport. Newport County have a historic rivalry with Cardiff City, and to a lesser extent Swansea City, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Hereford United but since 1989 Newport County have rarely encountered these clubs. Since 2009 the club has operated the popular and successful Internet radio commentary service for supporters.
The supporters' unofficial anthem is Come on the County, written by Ken Buck and Eric Thomas. Originally released in 1973, it was re-recorded in 1999 and 2010. The 1999 release included the song Carl Zeiss Jena by Newport band Flyscreen, celebrating County's 1981 European campaign. The 2010 release included reworkings of Come on the County by The Tenants Supermen, who are ardent County fans. For the 2012 FA Trophy final singer-songwriter Tracey Curtis wrote and released the song 'A Hundred Years of Football (and we're off to Wembley)'.
In the 1970s and 1980s comedian Frank Carson was appointed as a Director and Vice President in order to raise the profile of the club. Newport based rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain are supporters of the club and were the team's shirt sponsors for the 2004–05 season FAW Premier Cup matches
Honours and records
- As of 13 March 2014
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Newport County established a Football Academy in 1998, run in partnership with Newport City Council and the club has a youth development programme with around 50 students based at Llanwern High School. The team competes in the South West Counties League and in the 2001–02 season County's youngsters won the English Schools' Football Association under-19 Trophy under the banner of Hartridge High School. In the 2004–05 season they won the FAW Youth Cup. A number of the Academy graduates have progressed to the senior squad.
Notable former players
For all Newport County players with a Wikipedia article see Category:Newport County A.F.C. players.
- See also Newport County A.F.C. managers
Kit manufacturers and sponsors
|This section requires expansion. (November 2010)|
- "Newport Sytner End Expansion Complete". Newport County A.F.C. 30 December 2013.
- Reformation of Newport County
- "Newport County – Historical Kits". Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Newport, Lysaght's and Wolverhampton
- "History & Honours". Newport County A.F.C. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Shepherd, Richard (1997). Newport County Football Club 1912–1960. Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-1081-4.
- Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. "Season 1939–40 (Abandoned)".
- "Portsmouth 3 Newport 2". British Pathe. 1949-02-17. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
- Newport County A.F.C. "County Past". Retrieved 2010-03-22.[dead link]
- Jeffery, Robert; Gonnella, Mark (1999). "1970–1980: Taking On The World". Pictorial History of English Football. Parragon. p. 178. ISBN 1-84164-077-8.
- BBC Sport (11 March 2010). "Jerry Sherman interview". BBC News.
- Western Mail (2010-03-14). "‘Come and watch us celebrate title’ County tell FAW nemesis Alun Evans". Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- BBC Sport (17 November 2001). "Blackpool v Newport County". BBC News.
- BBC Sport (28 November 2001). "Newport County v Blackpool". BBC News.
- Newport County A.F.C. "Blue Square South 2009/09: Fixtures/Results/League Table".
- BBC Sport (16 March 2010). "Newport County's promotion party". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- Shuttleworth, Peter (1 April 2011). "Tottenham coach Anthony Hudson accepts Newport vacancy". BBC Sport.
- "Justin Edinburgh named Newport County manager". BBC Sport. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- "Newport County move to the Dragon's lair at Rodney Parade". BBC Sport. 1 June 2012.
- Scadding appointed Newport County Chairman
- Newport County agree 10 year lease
- Hughes, Dewi (5 May 2013). "Wrexham 0–2 Newport". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Newport County AFC awarded freedom of the city". Newport City Council. 17 August 2013.
- "Song celebrates County's Wembley dream". South Wales Argus. 31 March 2012.
- Frank Carson and Newport County
- Goldie Lookin' Chain
- Official website player profiles
- South Wales Argus. "Hartridge book place".
- South Wales Argus. "Hartridge High make history".
- Newport County official website
- Amber Army (Supporters' Trust) official website
- Newport County Supporters Club official website
- The Amber Terrace – photo & archive site
- Newport County playing kits archive
- Old Newport County shirts
- Tangerine Tommy
- Newport County A.F.C. on BBC Sport:
- Newport County Archives
- Football Club History Database
- Amber in the Blood: History of Newport County F.C. ISBN 1-874427-40-2