I’ve been eagerly waiting to write about the football since the creation of the blog at the start of the year, since then my beloved Newport County has received worldwide recognition, probably down to our FA Cup successes rather than through readers of this blog.
I didn’t anticipate writing at the back of my friends Mini, stuck in traffic before we have reached my nearest motorway junction on the way to Wembley, temporary home of Tottenham Hotspur. The County are playing Spurs.
So what do I make of it all?
It’s quite good, init? I’ve only just got used to seeing the County on the FIFA computer games and shirt sponsor Ponthir Suzuki advertising to millions by default. We’re entering newfoundland, even receiving sponsorship income from a Malaysian university. Their promo video featuring “fans” holding the shirt up outside the famous Petronus twin towers. They are welcome.
Back to reality – if you call today that, the actual football has been decent too. We played Leeds in the League Cup at the start of the season going 1 up before losing 5-1 at Elland Road. The looks I had when I told people we didn’t deserve to lose varied between amusement and worry for my mental stability. Still, if everyone took their chances it could have been 8 each. Something that was rectified in January as we came from behind to dump the famous club out and deservedly so.
Our league form was also impressive at this time bar a bump in the road drawing at home to bogey side Morecambe, we were winning for fun and well prepared on and off the field for the visit of Kane and co.
It might come as a surprise how well the club did off the field especially any of you who support your team on Match of the Day, justifying your dedication due to having a replica packed lunch box. Some of the social media comments around tickets were horrendous. The County have 4 ticket terminals. “We don’t have this queuing problem at Chelsea”. I wonder fucking why mate? As a bit of a case study, my mother has volunteered in the ticket office all season. She works nights, finishes at 7am and whenever necessary selling tickets to mainly appreciatative customers by 10am. That’s something you won’t see at Chelsea. And the mother is one of many. Not least the 30 volunteers running Supporters Club coaches today for the benefit of others and the club, and local pubs and clubs going out of their way so Newportonians can share the special experience.
The club forcing people to the Crawley game was a masterstroke and probably made the club £50,000+. No complaints for this keyboard warrior. I don’t expect everyone to come back but if you enjoyed yourself… It’s like that most Saturday afternoons. Sometimes you have to accept the queues, see people as £20 notes and hope to see them again in the future.
Oh yes, back to the football. In the not too distant past I have been lucky to have possessed a Manchester United season ticket for 6 years during the noughties so familiar with seeing world class players in front of me. Harry Kane could have been Stephane Henchoz for all I cared and the atmosphere, motivation and touch of disappointment at the final whistle made it clear the majority only supported the lads playing in amber.
Looking back (on and off the pitch again) it couldn’t have gone any better.
It’s now match day and I’m approaching Swindon in time for a midday arrival. Excitement has since turned to terror after seeing Swansea (a team lower than Spurs) net EIGHT past Notts County (a team higher than us) last night. I’m sorry to say winning on penalties has departed what the heart thinks and too scared to think what my head would suggest! I would take losing by maximum 3 clear goals and scoring so the 7200 will have something to celebrate / get over the £40 Car park fee and £82 pie and pint combo.
My stadium hopping during the aforementioned noughties also mean I’m accustomed to stadiums 10x the capacity of Rodney Parade and I was lucky to attend the first ever FA Cup final at the new Wembley back in 2007. Drogba netting the winner in added time. United would have payback a year later in Moscow. Unbelievably the County have since been there twice, the latter beating Welsh rivals Wrexham to get back in to the football league in 2013.
Any form of “cupset” and it will stand side by side with that epic day.