Newport County A.F.C.
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Association Football Club
|Nickname(s)||The Exiles, The Ironsides, The Port, The County|
June 1989 (reformed) (founded)
|Ground||Rodney Parade, Rodney Road, Newport, Wales|
|Owner||Newport County AFC Supporters Trust|
|2017–18||League Two, 11th of 24|
Newport County Association Football Club (Welsh: Clwb Pêl-droed Sir Casnewydd) is a professional association football club based in the city of Newport, South Wales. The team play in 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. In 2013 the club won promotion back to the Football League for the first time since 1988. The club's home colours are amber shirts and black shorts, although orange home shirts have also been used in the club's history.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1912–1988
- 1.2 1989 onwards
- 2 Fans
- 3 Honours and records
- 4 Players
- 5 Former managers
- 6 Kit manufacturers and sponsors
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
- 10 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 20 years in the Third Division South, the club finally clinched promotion to the Second Division as champions in 1939 under manager Billy McCandless.
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 ninth 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.
Newport reached the fifth round of the 1948–49 FA Cup under manager Tom Bromilow, 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.
After 11 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 12 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.
Billy Lucas had the first of three spells as Newport County manager from 1953 to 1961. County reached the fourth round of the 1956-57 FA Cup losing 2–0 to Arsenal in front of 20,000 spectators at Somerton Park. In the 1958-59 FA Cup County faced Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round. The game was played in heavy snow away at White Hart Lane, and although County lost 4–1 their goal came from an incredible 35-yard effort by defender Ken Hollyman. This made the score-line 1–2, giving County the hope that they could force an upset 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. County faced Tottenham again in the 1959-60 FA Cup third round at Somerton Park in front of a cup record 24,000 crowd, this time losing 4–0.
In January 1964 under Billy Lucas in his second spell as manager, County took on another high-profile side – Burnley, the 1960 Division One champions and 1962 double runners-up – in the FA Cup fourth round, but again suffered defeat 2–1.
In the 1970–71 season the Newport team managed by Bobby Ferguson 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 under Billy Lucas in his third spell as manager and in the 1972–73 season Newport missed out on promotion only on goal average.
For the 1976–77 season the team managed by Jimmy Scoular changed their playing strip to light blue and white striped shirts, light blue shorts and white socks akin to the Argentina national team in an attempt to turn around their fortunes. However, the team continued to struggle until Colin Addison took over in January 1977. The season became known as "the great escape" as County avoided relegation with a 1–0 win at home to Workington in the last game of the season.
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 the 1978–79 FA Cup County beat West Ham United 2–1 in round three before losing 1–0 to Colchester United in a fourth round replay. 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. Dave Gwyther completed the trio of prolific goalscorers whilst captain Keith Oakes provided strength in cental defence. Youth team products 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 1980–81 European Cup Winners' Cup 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. Aldridge was injured for both matches against Carl Zeiss Jena, though he was a non-playing substitute in the 2nd leg. The quarter-final away leg was drawn 2–2 with Tommy Tynan scoring both goals, including his equaliser 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 first 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 – 4th in the Third Division, just four points behind third-placed Huddersfield Town. 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 1–0 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.
In 1986 County reached the FA Cup third round under manager Bobby Smith, losing 2–0 to Sunderland. Newport appeared in the Welsh Cup final again in 1987 under manager John Lewis, this time losing 1–0 to Merthyr Tydfil after a replay.
Freefall and bankruptcy
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.
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; later 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 at the London Road ground the north Gloucestershire town of Moreton-in-Marsh, around 80 miles north east 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 in England, 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 first national 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 under manager Graham Rogers, 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. Craig Reid was the league's top scorer with 24 goals in the season.
Newport County were promoted to the Conference Premier for the 2010–11 season, the level they had played at prior to bankruptcy in 1989. Dean Holdsworth left Newport County to become team manager of League Two club 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 ninth 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.
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.
On their return to the Football League in the 2013–14 season Newport County finished a creditable 14th in League Two. On 7 February 2015, with Newport County in sixth place in League Two, it was confirmed that Justin Edinburgh had been appointed manager at Gillingham. Jimmy Dack stepped up from assistant manager at Newport County to caretaker manager and was later appointed manager until the end of the 2014–15 season. On 29 April Dack stated he had been offered the manager's job beyond the end of the season but he had decided he would move on after the final game. Newport finished the 2014–15 season in 9th place in League Two. Terry Butcher was appointed team manager on 30 April 2015. On 18 June 2015 Les Scadding resigned as Newport County chairman and director.
On 1 October 2015 Newport County Supporters' Trust took over ownership of the club. Butcher was sacked on the same day, with Newport bottom of League Two after gaining just five points from the first 10 matches of the 2015–16 season. John Sheridan was appointed team manager on 2 October 2015 until the end of the 2015–16 season and results improved. Sheridan resigned on 13 January 2016 after just 14 league games to take up the manager's job at Oldham Athletic. Assistant manager Warren Feeney was promoted to team manager on 15 January 2016 with Andy Todd appointed as his assistant. On the 18 January 2016 County lost 2–1 to Championship team Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup; the first time Newport had reached the third round of the cup since 1986. A good start saw Feeney gain 21 points from his first 12 games but results then worsened. Newport finished the season in 22nd place in League Two, avoiding relegation.
Feeney and Todd were sacked by Newport on 28 September 2016 with Newport County bottom of League Two having gained just six points from their first nine matches of the 2016–17 season. First team coach Sean McCarthy and goalkeeping player/coach James Bittner were appointed joint caretaker managers. Effective from 10 October 2016 Graham Westley was appointed team manager with Dino Maamria his assistant and Mccarthy released by the club. On the 9 March 2017 Westley and Maamria were sacked with Newport 11 points adrift at the bottom of League Two.
Following the departure of Westley, first team coach Mike Flynn was appointed caretaker manager until the end of the 2016–17 season. Wayne Hatswell returned to the club as assistant manager to Flynn. A remarkable recovery in the remaining 12 games of the season saw Newport avoid relegation with a 2–1 win at home against Notts County in the final match of the season, the second 'great escape' in the club's history, after that of 1976–77. On 9 May 2017 Flynn was appointed permanent team manager on a two year contract. On 7 January 2018 a 2–1 home win over Championship club Leeds United in the FA Cup third round meant Newport progressed to the FA Cup fourth round for the first time since 1979 and they were drawn at home to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. On 27 January 2018 Newport achieved a creditable 1–1 draw to force a replay at Tottenham's temporary home ground Wembley Stadium.. The draw marked the first time Spurs had failed to beat a fourth-tier team since the draw at Hereford United in January 1996. It was also the first time County avoided defeat against Spurs, having lost their previous four meetings. Tottenham won the replay 2–0. County finished the 2017-18 season in 11th place in League Two.
Newport County draws its main support from the city of Newport but also from 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 with Swansea City, Bristol City and Bristol Rovers; but since 1989 Newport County have rarely encountered those teams. 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 31 August 2018.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Glyn Jones was appointed director of the Newport County Youth Academy in 1997. In 1998 Newport County established a 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 Under-18 Football League Youth Alliance. A number of the academy graduates have progressed to the senior squad including Andrew Hughes, Lee Evans, Regan Poole, Aaron Collins, Tom Owen-Evans and Kieran Parselle.
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.
In May 2014 Glyn Jones was succeeded after 17 years as academy director by Mike Flynn. In 2015 the academy organisation was restructured to comply to FA requirements and in June 2015 Grant Kalahar was appointed to the senior role of academy manager. Kalahar left the academy at the end of the 2015–16 season with Byron Anthony appointed academy manager.
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
- Michael Flynn (footballer) 2017-present
Kit manufacturers and sponsors
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|Period||Kit Manufacturer||Shirt Sponsor|
|1983–1985||South Wales Argus|
|1989–1990||Umbro||AFG Newport, Newport Ford|
|1991–1992||Balan Sports International||Pirelli Cables|
|1992–1993||George Ford Motor Spares|
|1993–1994||None||Tom Witton Carpets|
|1994–1995||ProStar||Courage Best Bitter|
|1995–1996||Edwards Sports||Empress Car Sales|
|1998–1999||David McLean Homes|
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- "Song celebrates County's Wembley dream". South Wales Argus. 31 March 2012.
- "Frank Carson death: Newport County on how comic's laughter lifted club". BBC News.
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- 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
- Newport County A.F.C. on BBC Sport:
- Newport County Archives
- Football Club History Database
- Football Club History Database
- Tony Ambrosen (1993). Amber in the Blood: History of Newport County F.C. Yore Publications. ISBN 978-1874427407.