I DON’T think it is an exaggeration to describe Newport County AFC’s signing of Christian Jolley as the most significant in the past 25 years.
I would argue that for a multitude of reasons it is and see this as a good time to pick up the continued documentation of what is proving to be a staggering season for the Exiles.
It’s great to be ambitious, it’s even better to be desirable and it’s frankly essential to be prudent and the signing of AFC Wimbledon winger Jolley ticks all three boxes.
The Exiles have paid a fee that could rise to around the £20,000 mark for Jolley and that in itself is a red letter occurrence.
The number of signings County have made in my time covering the club for a cash fee off the top of my head amounts to Conor Washington this season and Lee John many moons ago in a deal that seemed to herald the end of looking for acquisitions rather than freebies.
There have been nominal fees along the way – I think Lee Baker and Craig Reid fall into that category – but it simply hasn’t been the done thing for Newport to actually pay a fee for a transfer target.
Now, in 2013, with a chairman on board with financial clout, Newport can afford to invest in the right player.
But this is where extreme caution is essential.
It’s great to have a pot of money to spend to improve your squad in a transfer window, but it’s all wrong to misconstrue the situation at Rodney Parade with Les Scadding on board.
Scadding is a chairman not a sugar daddy and it’s all too easy to expect more than is reasonable in such a scenario.
The cries of ‘why won't they just pay the extra?’ when County and Wimbledon were wide apart on their valuation of the player, were misguided from supporters who were letting their hearts rule their heads.
This is County’s third season in the Conference and in that time we’ve witnessed first-hand that with Fleetwood, Crawley before them and Luton as well that if you make it common to pay high prices it becomes the only way you can sign players.
Robbie Willmott won’t cost County a penny unless they go up yet he’s a player who has previously been signed for £50,000 at Kenilworth Road.
It was imperative that Newport only paid what they felt reasonable for Jolley and that they held firm and showed patience and restraint bodes well.
If you say yes once to a fee you think is unrealistic or unfair, that becomes your status quo in the Conference. It’s simply no way to do your business. Prudence is essential.
Most of all though, it’s great to be loved and it’s in this instance that County have pulled off more than just the signing of a good player.
Jolley’s loan at Rodney Parade was an obvious revelation and not only did he build an affinity with the supporters, he evidently enjoyed both the management of Justin Edinburgh and the atmosphere in the dressing room and on the training field.
Forest Green Rovers and Luton both showed in the summer that they are deadly serious about promotion and are willing to spend to get there and both bid more for Jolley than County.
But Jolley didn’t want to join Forest Green and while I don’t think anyone would dispute Luton’s credentials as a big club two rejections followed.
The Hatters are paying the price for signing far too many players because there is now a lack of trust at getting suitable game time for potential targets.
That played perfectly for Newport who stuck to their guns and then moved in when Wimbledon were keen enough to sell that Neal Ardley practically declared him available again through the media.
Newport have landed a significant coup in being Jolley’s preferred destination. It speaks volumes for the progress made under Edinburgh.
The Exiles are now second in the table after Saturday’s thumping win at Lincoln and look every inch a side who can continue to challenge at the top.
They are being bold in the transfer market and are reaping the rewards for the momentum created by moving to Rodney Parade.