I met my good friend Welsh Andy a dozen or so years ago. He was due to play in goals for my now defunct 7-a-side team, Rural Madrid, one cold night all those winters ago. Our mutual respect for timing meant we got there, as is customary for both, earlier than everyone else. If there’s something we both prize as much as a well-placed centre from a tricky winger on to the head of an on-rushing centre forward, it’s punctuality. (That and texting in the Queen’s English as well, to be fair.) We worked out who the other was by way of introduction and got talking from there. We haven’t really stopped since. One of the first things we learned about each other, as blokes tend to do, like dogs marking their territory, was ascertain the other’s favourite teams.

“Newport County”, said Andy proudly, authoritatively, maybe even a touch solemnly. He then went on to tell me about his supporting life. Those halcyon days in Europe, the hellish days of bankruptcy and expulsion from the league; he was there for all of them. He even gave me a report of the previous weekend’s fixture.
I was massively impressed by the depth of feeling Andy so evidently, and dedicatedly, felt for his team. You’ve got to go there to come back as his Leeds loving compatriot Kelly Jones would probably say. Blokes like Andy I respect.

Your local team is your team.

A philosophy I wholeheartedly adhere too. So I told him about my team. The ‘atters. We were down on our luck that season if I remember rightly. It’s got better then worse and much worse since. Comparatively though, we were better off than County then. From that moment, I’ve kept an eye on County’s fortunes. I’ve even since boasted of them being my ‘Welsh team’ (Never my second team though. What’s all that about?).

Fast forward to now. A glance at the Blue Square Premier League (The conference in old money….) as I write reveals, sitting proudly in third position with 84 points, Newport County. Scrolling down, eventually I find, with sixty points and in eleventh place, my sorry lot.

Tonight we entertain County. Work commitments mean I can’t attend. I’m not altogether too sorry about this.

County’s rise over the last few season’s has been as meteoric as Luton’s fall. It was the only thing to compensate with the misery of the dropping out of the league, two games with those roister-doisters from over the border. So we’re in a bad way in a bad league? But, aw bless, we’re playing County. A cheeky four or maybe even six points and a consoling ‘better luck next time old chap’ over a beer with Andy would be a brief respite from the utter despondency what being a Luton Town fan has now become.

Last season County beat us. For the first time in a very long time.

The biter has been bit. Little brother has now stepped out of big brother’s shadow and is about to bloody his nose. Again.

As Luton find it increasingly harder to get out of the conference, so a rejuvenated Newport side, after a very good season, find themselves a play off scrap away from the promised land. As a football romantic it would be great to see for the sake of Andy, his lad, his brother, his friends and all the other die-hards who’ve done the hard yards down the years, the return of a traditional club back to where they belong.

In the football league.

Pob lwc County.

Just go easy on us tonight, eh? Otherwise it’ll be Andy buying me a beer with a grin the size of the Severn Bridge.

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