SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Lennon Jones summed up the excitement of all Newport County AFC before the recent FA Cup clash against Manchester City with an Exiles-inspired chant that quickly went viral on social media.

The Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael pupil worked in the names of his favourite County players to the tune of The Archies' hit song ‘Sugar, Sugar’ as he prepared to cheer them on against the Premier League champions on February 16.

Young fans like Lennon are getting used to big occasions at Rodney Parade – and it doesn’t get much bigger than the visit of Pep Guardiola’s superstars.

It was a massive moment for the club and one that will hopefully persuade the next generation of fans to commit to their local team.

For older supporters, those that remember the dark times of the late 1980s, these are days that they must have feared they would never see again.

February 11 marked 30 years since the original Newport County played their final league match – a 2-1 defeat at Maidstone.

Bottom of the GM Vauxhall Conference, and with debts of £126,000, the club was issued with a winding up order, and by the time of the court case they were £330,000 in the red.

The Ironsides were officially wound up by the High Court exactly 30 years ago today – on February 27, 1989 – six days after they bowed out with a thrilling 6-5 defeat at Kidderminster Harriers in the Conference League Cup.

An auction of the club’s assets was held, raising just £12,000.

The highest fee of £360 was paid for a trophy given to the club by 1981 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final opponents Carl Zeiss Jena.

A sign above the manager’s door went for £40; appropriately, some black armbands were sold for £1.74.

Anyone who attended that grim event on April Fool’s Day in 1989 could not have foreseen a future for their beloved club.

But, fortunately, a determined group of 400 fans had other ideas.

Led by chairman David Hando, who now serves as honorary club president, secretary Mark Williams and manager John Relish, they ensured that the club was reborn as Newport AFC in the Hellenic League.

It took 21 years to secure a return to the Conference and another three before Football League status was reclaimed in a Wembley play-off final against Welsh rivals Wrexham.

South Wales Argus:

It was a long and winding road, one that took in ‘home’ matches 85 miles away at Moreton-in-the-Marsh in Gloucestershire and court battles with the Football Association of Wales.

And there have been some hairy moments since the return to the big time six years ago – none more so than the miraculous Great Escape from relegation under Michael Flynn in 2017.

But Flynn, assistant Wayne Hatswell, football consultant Lennie Lawrence, and the players have brought the good times back for Newport County.

After beating Leeds United and taking Tottenham Hotspur to a Wembley replay in last year’s FA Cup fourth round, they went one better this season and even gave Pep Guardiola’s superstars a tough test.

County have made around £2m from the cup over the past two years and that should mean there are no money worries in the immediate future.

But the remarkable run has been about more than a financial boost.

It’s brought the feel-good factor back to Rodney Parade and to the city as a whole, and reminded the nation of the incredible story of the club’s rise from the ashes.