Friday 5 November 2021

Newport City - Newport Stadium

Newport City FC
Newport Stadium
Spytty Park
Newport International Sports Village
Stadium Way
NP19 4PT

01633 656757 (stadium)

Ground Number: 1019
Friday 5th November 2021
Newport City 3-1 Abertillery Excelsiors
Ardal League South East


The club was established in 1963 as Spencer Works FC. The team's members worked for the Llanwern steelworks which is now owned by Tata Steel. They started out in the Newport and District League before moving up to the Gwent League which they won in 1971 & 1972. Following their second triumph, they moved up to the Welsh League.  Starting out in the third tier Division 2, they were runners-up to Pontllanfraith in their first season, sealing promotion to Division 1. They finished 3rd in their first season before winning the title in 1975 and sealing promotion to the Premier Division. Despite a 9th place finish in their first season, they couldn't sustain top-flight status and they were relegated to Division 1 in 1977. A series of top-half finishes followed before league reorganisation saw a National Division established with the second tier now being called the Premier Division. A series of bottom-half finishes followed before the club changed its name to Llanwern in 1988 to reflect the changed name of the steelworks. The division was renamed again in 1991, from then on being known as Division 1.


The establishment of the League Of Wales in 1992 saw another rebrand, with Llanwen now placed in their third tier Division 2 after the new league took some of the Welsh League's clubs and a footballing pyramid was born. A 3rd place finish in 1993 saw the club promoted to the Welsh League D1 where they remained until 1998 before being relegated back to Division 2. They would win promotion back with a runners-up spot to Garw and would last in Division 1 until 2004. During this time, they moved to the Newport Stadium, their old ground being sold to make way for a Tesco supermarket. The ground was located three miles from the steelworks and two miles from their new home. This coincided with a difficult period for the club and they were relegated to Division 3 in 2005. They would bounce back as runners-up to Cwmbran Celtic in 2007, before being relegated again in 2010. Another runners-up spot, this time to Barry Town United saw them promoted back in 2014. The year 2016 saw the club change its name to Newport City to reflect its location change and to appeal to the wider community. It was not a good debut season under their new moniker with them being relegated back to Division 3. They continued to tread water but in 2019, league reorganisation and the establishment of the Cymru North & South saw them placed in Division 2. They spent one season here before the season was cut short due to Covid 19. Welsh football was put on hold for 17 months for that very reason. When the game did start up again, Newport City were placed in the Ardal League South East, which sits at step 3 of the Welsh Pyramid.

In terms of cup competitions, honours include the Welsh League Cup with Llanwern beating Gwynfi United in Neath in 2003. They have also been regular participants in the national competition, the Welsh Cup since they joined the Welsh League in 1972. Their best run in the competition came on 1997/98 as they beat Llanelli 3-1, Skewen Athletic 2-0 & Treharris Athletic 1-0 before a 4-0 defeat to eventual finalists Connah's Quay Nomads in the 4th Round. They also took Swansea City to a replay in 1983, drawing 1-1 at the Vetch Field before losing 5-0 in the replay at Somerton Park. The village of Llanwern has a population of around 3,000 whilst Newport and its 20 districts has a population of around 155,000. Newport County who are the dominant team, at least in football terms, play in League 2 at Rodney Parade. They share this venue with the city's rugby club. Other Newport teams in the Welsh League include Caerleon whilst there are a number of teams in the Gwent County League including Newport Corinthians who were recently sponsored by the musician 'Goldie Lookin Chain'.

Sources used for research: Wikipedia, FCHD, Welsh Football Data Archive, Non League Matters, eBay & Google.


Originally, I'd decided on Wednesday that I wasn't going to bother with football on this Friday, the nearest unticked option being in Newport 120 miles away from work. However, walking around work on Thursday, I couldn't get the feeling that I'd be missing out, with a walk to town and the pub not holding as much appeal as a game of football. It would be healthier too and although I'd be looking at around £35 in petrol alone, plus the car servicing costs bringing it up to around £50 at the end of the season, I decided it was worth it. I'd be on my own for once, but a combination of my three regular hoppers budget constraints or location meant that them coming along with me would be unlikely in the future. I went for the Newport City game as it kicked off at 7 but the weather looked good and I had backups to call on at Goytre and Risca United if needed. I signalled my intention to go on Twitter and straight off, the friendly hosts offered free entry and programme. It was only £4 but it was the gesture and thought that counted. Now, if only I could find an oil tycoon or petrol company to pay for my fuel. I did my research on Thursday night, taking a good few hours as the information was more fragmented than the English clubs I normally visited. I wanted to do as good a job as possible though, the club deserved it and in any case, I like to get a good feel of where a club is before I visit. Welsh football had undergone many changes over the years, so it is quite tricky to put things in perspective.

Perhaps my reluctance initially was down to the Wycombe Wanderers game on Tuesday.  Normally, Saturday games are a pleasure as I'm able to follow a pre-match routine which includes a big walk, a couple of pints and lunch with some mates. As well as being fun, it has led to the team being unbeaten in 22 games when I have followed this ritual. This compares to five straight defeats when I have been forced to drive, or a component of my routine is missed. The complete lack of public transport meant that I had little choice. I probably could have walked back but then again, I wasn't confident for the match and didn't want to spoil my lucky run. We lost 4-1 to Ipswich Town, but played well in parts and could have gained a draw on a better day. But we really did shoot ourselves in the foot. At least I had football. Between 7th March 2020, when I went to West End v Chepstow Town and this August, there had not been a single fan in grounds in Wales. This was due to the draconian Mark 'Kim Jong Un' Drakeford who had gone way over the top with his restrictions and had seen worse figures than England with the irresponsible and callous Boris Johnson in charge. I'd have personally gone somewhere in between, imposing masks in shops, public transport and schools. This would have meant that people who only wanted to do the essentials could do so with some form of protection and the rest of us could crack on as we had before. But common sense has always been in short supply in government. It was just a miracle that more clubs had not gone to the wall, especially with the Welsh League system having some strange regulations. But clubs appeared to be flourishing under the new league structure, which credit where credit is due, made the whole thing a lot easier to understand.

The day of the game came and it was a hard day at work as usual. Typically, my last load was a huge one and instead of winding down, I was hard at work right until the end. After getting my things together and getting changed, I left at 3.20. It was a decent journey for the most part, with a toilet stop at Leigh Delamere services just before 5. I was in Newport by 5.30 and with time to kill, headed to a place called Top Taste Kebab. I had a Naga Chilli Kebab for £8, wanting to try something different. It was pretty decent and I eat it after driving to Tesco and eating it in their car park. I then popped into the store and got some bottles of Welsh Cider, 9 bottles for £15. Sadly there were no lamb & mint pasties or Welsh crisps but I was happy with my haul overall. I then filled up with petrol for a similar price to back home. It was then a few minutes to the ground, with me getting there at 6.45. I went in and got my free entry and programme as promised. I took my place in the stand, the view was pretty good for an athletics track. 

Newport City were in 6th place whilst Abertillery Excelsiors were down in 13th. The hosts had a mixed October, winning 2-0 at Aberbargoed Buds and beating Caldicot Town 2-0. They'd also drawn 1-1 at Chepstow Town but lost 3-1 at Abervagenny Town. The visitors had beaten their high flying rivals Abertillery Bluebirds 2-0 as well as winning 2-0 at Llandrindod Wells. However, they had lost 2-0 to Panteg and 4-0 to Monmouth Town. 21 miles separated the two clubs with the visitors being based north near Ebbw Vale. It was the Excelsiors who took the lead on 12 minutes. They were awarded a penalty for a foul in the box and Luke James stepped up to convert. It was 1-1 on 35 minutes, a corner being won despite claims of offside by the Abertillery players and fans. It was put in and although initially not connected with was put back in and poked home by Carlos Indjai. The hosts nearly took the lead a couple of minutes later but a striker fired wide of the right-hand post after being put clean through. They also had a good claim for a penalty with a clear handball not picked up on, with a pat-down from a visiting defender that wouldn't have looked out of place in basketball. Not that Abertillery were giving up the fight, they forced the Newport keeper in a great save low down to his right just before halftime. The hosts took the lead on 48 minutes, Jack Wheeler heading home a corner from the right. The visitors were awarded a penalty on 52 minutes for a foul in the area but Luke James fired wide. The game was decided on 59 minutes, Kofi Rowe curling in a shot into the bottom-left corner from outside the area. 

It had been a decent game for the 54 in attendance. The Cymru Football app was superb for letting me know scorer details and also the attendance. There didn't seem to  be huge home support, a real shame as the club offer a good product and I think that the Newport public should get behind them, especially on a Friday night with little else on. The visitors had bought a decent amount of people along and I hope that I can get along to see one of their home games too. It had been my first taste of Welsh football since 7th March 2020 when I went to West End v Chepstow and I'd enjoyed both immensely. So much so, that I may well be off to see Newport City at Croesyceiliog next week, though I'll have to learn how to pronounce it first. Looking at some of the Welsh teams makes me appreciate how a dyslexic person must feel. I left at 9ish, listening to the second half of AFC Sudbury v Colchester United in the FA Cup, with the visitors winning 4-0. I was back at 11.13, remarkably a couple of minutes before I got back from the Wycombe game on Tuesday. Newport City had been a great club, a special person to the person who runs the club Twitter who was absent due to his wife having a baby. Hopefully, it all goes well for them.


NEWPORT STADIUM is primarily an athletics stadium which is located in an area of industrial and retail area in the town. It is a pretty decent stadium with a capacity of around 5,500 although figures vary depending on where you look. There are two covered areas with the seated one holding around 2,000 at a guess and a covered terrace opposite around the same. There is also some uncovered terracing. It was used by Newport County for a number of years. Local amenities include a retail park with a Tesco store and a pub called the Llanwern Bull. There is more than enough parking for any occasion and I'd expect it to be served by buses too. The daytime pictures of the ground are from when I called in before a visit to Swansea City in 2007.


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