Newport County FC
Matchday Number: 218
Saturday 29th September 2012
Newport County 0-0 Grimsby Town
Blue Square Premier
I had met my Grimsby mate Sam at the Sheffield Wednesday v Wycombe game at the end of last season and we got on so well that we agreed another meet was a must. We were initially planning on going to Manchester City v QPR on the first of September as the City Of Manchester Stadium was one we were both keen to visit, mainly to contribute towards us completing the 92. But Sam wanted to go to Hereford v Grimsby that day and so after arranging another time to go to City, in March v Wigan, we looked at the fixture list to plan something else. I looked at Grimsby's away games as I was also looking to do every ground in the Blue Square Premier and spotted Newport County away on a day that I was free, and so it got pencilled in. I had previously been to the old ground at Newport on the way to Swansea (the year we got to the League Cup Semi Final) to take pictures, but this would be a whole new ground for me as they had moved to share with the Rugby club in the town, at Rodney Parade. I don't know about anyone else, but the first thing I thought of when I heard that was Rodney Trotter out of Only Fools and Horses!
In the week before the game, it was announced that it was all ticket for away fans, so Sam got me my ticket so I could sit with my fellow Englishmen. Saved a bit though as he bought them all together with a load of other people, which mean that the younger looking/tighter amongst us could attempt to save ourselves a tenner off the adult price, a ploy which worked thanks to having a shave and wearing some sunglasses to hide my tired looking eyes!
On the day I set off around 8.40am. I wasn't feeling at my best, my stomach felt bad and I was worried about feeling crap for the whole day. However I didn't need to worry. A rare treat of a breakfast sub from Subway and a couple of Belgian Buns from ASDA soon settled things down and I felt much better. So come 9.30, I was ready to leave Wycombe. But instead of going down the M4 which was the quicker route, I opted to go up and through Oxford to save myself the ludicrous £6 entry into Wales, via the Severn Bridge. It was roughly the same mileage and only half an hour extra, a sacrifice I was prepared to make. It was a bit slow going at times, but after a few small delays I was in Newport just after 12. As it was just under 2 hours until the Grimsby supporters coach was due to arrive, I walked into Newport and had a look round the traditional looking town centre, buying a can of Belgian Elderflower cider at B&M Bargains before making my way to the local Wetherspoons. At first looking at the outside, I thought someone had pinched some of the letters as the words on the front of the pub made no sense whatsoever, and I had only had one can! Then I suddenly remembered I was in Wales, and their complicated language meant that signs like that were par for the course. I had a great pint of Gwynt Y Draig Gold Label cider which came in at 7% and was a new and very nice tipple for me. By now, it was getting on for 1.30, so I made my way back to the ground, stopping off at my car to pick some stuff up on the way.
I had arranged to meet Sam and his mate, whose name escapes me at the moment, but he did remind me a small bit of Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter Films. We agreed to meet at the club shop at 2.15 and had a good chat about our teams. I was pleased to meet another decent footy fan as well. Normally we would get a pennant or something from the shop, but Newport were asking silly money, a tenner would you believe. So we left it and after taking some pictures of the outside of the ground. After meeting another Mariners fan, Will, that I had spoken to on Facebook, we found some decent seats for the game and settled down, with around 20 minutes to kick off.The game kicked off, and after 2 minutes, Grimsby keeper James McKeown was called into action as former Wycombe player Andy Sandell's free kick was heading for the top corner. He may have left Wycombe under a cloud, moaning that he didn't want to play left back anymore and wasn't enjoying his football. But he would walk into the current Wycombe side and for my money he was Newport's best player. Newport had more chances than Grimsby, but the visitors were still holding their own. Newport's best chance game after McKeown came out to make a brave save, but lost the ball, was left stranded and it was up to Nathan Pond to cleat off of the line to keep the scores level at the break.
At half time I heard that Wycombe were losing 1-0 at Dagenham, Gareth Ainsworth making a number of changes from the team that lost to AFC Wimbledon a week previously. Back to the game in hand the second half started with Grimsby having the better of the game. They had their best chance of the game on 60 minutes when Joe Collbeck's shot was smartly saved by home keeper Lenny Pidgeley. Newport had their chances in the second half too, but it was Grimsby that looked the most likely to score in the dying moments. The most amusing moment of the second half was when Ben Swallow came on, amusingly last season he would have played at Spytty Park. Childish, but funny. After the game I said my goodbyes to Sam and co, agreeing that March was far too long to wait before our next meet, and that we would try and meet again before Christmas.
When I got back to the car, I was surprised to find that I could pick up BBC Three Counties Radio, despite being 200 mies away from the transmitter. I was disappointed to hear that Wycombe had lost 3-0 and would be even more depressed when I read and heard about how bad it really was. As ever the radio coverage of us was poor, and we in fact got more mentions on BBC Radio Bristol than we did on our own local station. I had decided to stop at Westbourne United FC on the way home, to take pictures. It turned out to be as much of a disappointment as the Wycombe result, as it was little more than a railed off pitch and a changing room block. Getting back on the M4 I made quick progress and was back in Wycombe by 7.30. After stopping off to get a few cans and a curry, I went home and had a relaxing evening, having had a good day with some great people.
RODNEY PARADE is the original home of Newport Rugby club, Newport County having moved in at the start of the season. The ground is a mixture of new and old. The most impressive stand is the one we were in, a modern stand holding around 3500 from which the views and facilities are excellent. To the left there is just a small seated area for disabled fans and their helpers, along with some buildings. Opposite is the old main stand, which has seats in it's top tier with a terrace below. Whilst at the other end is an uncovered terrace. There is a bar and an overpriced club shop at the ground, and alcohol is served in the ground too. Though it looked pretty basic and so you would be better off taking the short 10-15 minute walk to the town centre.