COLUMNS are an especially easy place to criticise, as I do most weeks, but it’s a blessed relief to be able to do nothing but praise Newport County AFC and their supporters this week.
The Exiles may have been narrowly defeated at Bootham Crescent, but the success of Newport’s fans’ forum and some exciting off-the-field news still makes last week a winner in my eyes for the Exiles.
I’ve made no secret that I think some of the things written online about Howard Greenhaf, Dave Boddy and Tim Harris, just like Chris Blight and the like before them, have been harsh in the extreme this season, but credit to them for fronting up to their paying customers.
A football club is ultimately as strong as its supporters, you can have all the money, ideas and passion in the world but if only 800 people care, well, you’re Forest Green Rovers.
Newport County are now a club who attract 3000 through the gate even when the going is bad and it is to their credit that they opened the floor last week and answered your questions directly. Even an inability to attend was no barrier with the club taking questions via social media.
The feedback on the evening has been terrific and while we’d be naive in the extreme to believe that everything is 100% rosy on and off the field, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the strongest Newport County have been, on or off the field, in my time covering them.
It’s also time to dispel the notion that Newport County AFC exists alone due to the presence of Greenhaf, Boddy and of course, Les Scadding.
I’m beyond impressed with the club endorsed ‘100 club’ the brainchild of some of County’s most die-hard supporters, including Kevin Morris, Steve Rose, Paul Ivermee, Mike Jones and Steve Moore, among others.
Some of these guys had been talking excitedly to me for weeks about the venture they were planning and it’s a brilliant concept for two reasons.
Firstly, the simple fact that the aim is to provide £100,000 for Newport County AFC, money that makes an absolute world of difference in League Two.
County don’t have a play-off budget and I really, really appreciate the fact that no-one ever expects Les Scadding to act as some kind of sugar daddy.
In 2014 we’ve seen enough from the likes of Leeds and Portsmouth all the way down to Chester and Aldershot to know the dire consequences of financial irresponsibly off the field. Football fans have no interest in success achieved in an unsustainable manner and it’s superb that this group have come up with a clear and workable way to assist the club they love.
I maintain that there is something about the County; it gets into your pores, even if you come in as an outsider (I should know, despite accusations to the contrary). You see it in the way Justin Edinburgh and Les Scadding have brought into things and for those of you who don’t know, the Steve Rose I mentioned above is ex-County man Danny Rose’s father. He’s now an Amber Army diehard who goes home and away.
The other thing I like about the concept is the all-important thing, inclusiveness. It’s an invitation to be part of the County family and as regular readers know, this is something I feel strongly that the Exiles have got wrong in recent years. For whatever reason, influential supporters have at times felt unwelcomed by the club and clearly, this goes a long way to repairing any lingering ill-feeling.
Howard Greenhaf stated at the fans’ forum categorically that the club would welcome new people interested in joining the board and I sincerely hope that happens.
Newport County seem to finally have realised that the more the merrier is the way to go and long may this new era of openness and inclusiveness continue.
Finally, again with my positive hat on and speaking more as a Newport County fan than correspondent, I’d like to add to all the well-wishers for the departing David Pipe.
County and their then manager Anthony Hudson took a chance on Pipe when no-one else would and he paid the club back handsomely, he was hugely important in keeping them in the Conference and equally so in getting them to the Football League.
The image of Pipe charging up the touchline at Wembley flexing his utterly terrifying WWE style physique after County beat Wrexham is an abiding memory of a magical day and I’d go as far as to say that Pipe has connected with the Amber Army in a way few others have in the past decade, save for perhaps Craig Hughes and your own Nathan Davies.
I understand and accept Edinburgh’s decision to seek a more naturally attacking right back for next year (to presumably compete with) Ryan Jackson, but it’s very much a case of thanks for the memories to a player who I both enjoyed watching and dealing with professionally.
We often worry that the players don’t care nearly as much as the fans and in the case of Pipe, that clearly wasn’t the case. What higher compliment can you pay a footballer?
And don’t fret that you don’t get to say goodbye. Pipe will be always welcome at Rodney Parade and will no doubt be back. But take it from someone who knows the man, he won’t want a pat on the back for doing his job. He knows exactly what high regard you held him in and the feeling is mutual.
BLOB The 100 Club will be launched at Rodney Parade on Thursday, May 1, at 6.30pm in the new 100 Club Suite in the Bisley Stand and all supporters are welcome to attend.