THE O.DYKE COLUMNnewportcounty



Tuesday the 11th of March, this could be looked back on as the day Newport County were finally reborn. A trophy, something tangible for the supporters’ and management to grab hold of. The FAW premier cup was never the reason the hero’s of the late 80’s gathered to reincarnate this dirty old club, but nonetheless it is a two fingered salute to the blazers at the FAW and BBC Cardiff.

It could also be a day that Newport council finally sat up and took notice that we do have a football club in the city. When announcing the plan for the new rugby stadium at Rodney Parade the football team was disastrously overlooked. Now we will have the tedious sight of TWO rugby teams playing out of the same stadium, yet County are left with the multi-purpose soulless Newport Stadium,Spytty Park. It seems the Council does not realise the potential of the County and the English football pyramid system. Newport Gwent Dragons are a ‘region/club/team’ torn by internal and external politics, too which many Newportonians cannot identify, yet the council warm more to them than the football club with true Newport identity. Newport RFC are a shadow of their former self and this season could see the football team average higher attendances than the rugby team for the first time in decades. My ideal solution would be for Newport RFC and Newport County FC to ground share, two teams close to my heart, but this would involve a substantial restructuring of the Celtic rugby system, which in all sadness is not going to happen.

In terms of away support Newport County regularly take away championship-level armies of fans, often creating a partisan home game atmosphere. Incredible really when you think this can involve a midweek evening game the other side of London. I really do think the home attendance is affected by the poor stadium. An alternative of course is to redevelop Spytty, which does have a small iota of windswept charm lurking somewhere amongst the athletic track and velodrome! The running track must go, the four sides of the ground brought closer to the pitch. The capacity is 4,300, good enough for the conference and not needed to be bigger, the problem as mentioned above is the diagnostics. Years of fundraising and hard work have got the County where they are now, the groundwork has been done.  County have no rich backer but surely a businessman measures an investment by how much potential it has. There is no alternative in Newport for a sporting cash injection. Newport RFC will never again get a crowd of 3,000 for a league game, crowds are dwindling year on year. Every time I cross Somerton Bridge I pause and think about our beloved, decrepit Somerton Park. We’ve beaten the FAW, we’ve won at the High Court, we’ve played in exile, we’ve beaten Cardiff City,Swansea City, we’ve won the FAW Cup and we’re pushing for promotion. Come on council, give us a break.