NEWPORT COUNTY 1946-47
THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES
|The 1946-47 season is Newport County's
only full season experience of playing in the second tier of the English
football league. It was short-lived but nonetheless combined games
against some of England's top teams with some chastening defeats,
including the record 13-0 loss to Newcastle United.
It could have been so different had the war not intervened. In 1938-39 Newport County were promoted as champions of Division 3 South. They started the 1939-40 season in Division 2 and were led out on to the field for their fixture with Southampton by Mayor and director, Jack Wardell. Wardell was a Lysaght's employee who moved from the Black Country in 1908. Under the captaincy of Harry Duggan County beat Southampton 3-1, drew their next game 1-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur before losing 2-1 away at Nottingham Forest. But their participation was immediately curtailed after the postponement of fixtures due to the outbreak of war.
The club was re-formed after the war and Somerton Park re-acquired for use as a football stadium. This was not an easy process and many of the players who were with County in 1939-40 were no longer available due to the war or simply the passage of time. After a difficult transitional season in 1945-46 the Football League restarted in 1946-47. Newport had appointed a new manager, Tom Bromilow, previously at Burnley and Crystal Palace. However, player recruitment had proved awkward and a tough season was expected.
So it proved. Their first match against Nottingham Forest ended in a 6-1 defeat, two days later they went down 3-2 at Burnley. But in their first home fixture the Ironsides managed a 4-2 victory over Coventry City in front of 14,104. They came down to earth five days later with a defeat at home to Spurs by 4-2. After a draw away at Birmingham Newport endured a wretched eight days, a 7-2 defeat at home to West Brom was followed by a record defeat away at Newcastle. The Newcatle Chronicle recently recalled the match "As Newcastle and Newport took to the field, the Magpies boasted the emerging talents of Frank Brennan, Joe Harvey and a certain 22-year-old Jackie Milburn, among others. But in a match that rained goals for United it was another name that grabbed the headlines. In that remarkable 13-0 victory, inside-forward Len Shackleton grabbed a double hat-trick (although one of the goals might today have been classed as an own goal). The rout was completed by Charlie Wayman who grabbed four, Wor Jackie who notched a brace, and a single strike by Roy Bentley.The 13-0 scoreline remains a club record and is still the biggest ever victory in England’s top two divisions. And, incidentally, the record might have stood at 14-0 had Charlie Wayman not missed an early penalty."
The season did not recover after that. County managed an away win at Bury but otherwise lost eight matches in the month of October. They fought hard at home and achieved some good results including festive wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham and, ironically, a 4-2 victory at home against Newcastle United in their last home fixture in the second tier. The last game was a 5-1 rout at Manchester City.
In all, an amazing season marked by a record breaking defeat. Despite the results average crowds of over 13,000 still flocked to Somerton Park to see some of the top football teams in the land. It could have been so different but for the intervention of war but it is certainly a dream for the new County to strive for and to better what was done in their name in the 1946-47 season.