NEWPORT County AFC are hoping to enjoy a day of nostalgia and celebration as Carl Zeiss Jena head to Wales for the first time in 33-years.
The Exiles’ pre-season preparation steps up with the visit of the German Fourth Division side today, who like the Exiles have sadly lost some lustre since their pomp in the 1980s.
The two sides famously met in 1981 in the quarter final of the Cup Winners’ Cup, County drawing 2-2 in East Germany but succumbing to defeat in the tie after a 1-0 reverse at Somerton Park.
It remains arguably the pinnacle for County and represents their most successful side at the height of their powers, manager Len Ashurst and his charges including John Relish, John Aldridge and Tommy Tynan still legends in the city to this day.
The two teams met last summer in East Germany with County clinching another 2-2 draw thanks to a late leveller from Aaron O’Connor.
That contest, like this one, also wasn’t played at the home venue of the hosting side, Jena moving the match due to a damaged floodlight in remarkably similar circumstances to the ones today that mean the contest will be staged at Spytty Park.
Newport opted to switch this clash to Spytty Park, along with the upcoming visit of Coventry City, to allow the Rodney Parade playing surface as much time as possible to bed in.
However, despite the shift in venues, manager Justin Edinburgh believes County fans are in for a treat on a day of nostalgia.
“I’m a firm believer in acknowledging and embracing your history and Carl Zeiss Jena are a big part of Newport’s history,” he said.
“Many of our fans I am sure would have been at Somerton Park (18,000 packed County’s former home for the historic clash) for the game and it’ll be good for them to remember such a special time.
“What we need to do is produce a performance to match the occasion.”
As part of the festivities, several former players and staff members who represented County during that heady period will be in attendance today.
As of Friday, Relish, Neil Bailey, Grant Davies, Steve Warriner, Gary Plumley, Mike Dowler, Tony Gilbert and David Williams had all been confirmed with more names to be announced.
The club have also allayed fears of supporters who expressed concern about the catering arrangements, with the game moved to Spytty Park just nine days before today’s clash.
County wrote on their website: “Tiny Rebel Brewing Company will be the official match sponsors for the visit of FC Carl Zeiss Jena. Tiny Rebel will be providing two outdoor bars and food outlets at Spytty Park on Saturday behind Bar Amber and to the side of the shed stand.”