COUNTY Championship cricket made a triumphant – and emotional – return to Newport today after a gap of more than half a century.

Sunshine bathed Spytty Park from the first ball to the last with the home of Newport Cricket Club enjoying its debut as a County Championship venue.

Glamorgan’s Division Two clash with Gloucestershire was the first game of its kind in the city since 1965, when the Welsh county played Warwickshire at Rodney Parade.

The appetite for first-class cricket in Gwent was clear to see, with a peak crowd of around 1,000 savouring the action and glorious Welsh weather.

Newport’s juniors gave Matthew Maynard’s men a guard of honour as they took to the field after losing the toss, while Ringland Primary School pupils watched intently from in front of the scoreboard.

Slip, slap, slop was the order of the day as the sun beat down and temperatures pushed 20C for Glamorgan’s second championship fixture of the summer.

And the home crowd had every reason to be cheerful when their side took a wicket in the opening over.

South African seamer Marchant de Lange had the honour of claiming the first dismissal in a championship match at Spytty Park.

He had Miles Hammond caught behind by Kieran Bull off the third delivery of the day.

But after suffering an early blow without a run on the board, Gloucestershire steadied the ship and Chris Dent and James Bracey took the visitors to 50.

But Dent was then trapped leg before by Graham Wagg and David Lloyd clean bowled George Hankins.

Bracey and Gareth Roderick got things going again for the away side, and at lunch they were 101-3.

Former England pace bowler Devon Malcolm entertained hospitality guests with stories from his playing days during the interval.

And ex-international wicketkeeper Jack Russell, now a renowned artist, showed off his impressive paintings of cricket grounds across England and Wales.

Meanwhile, two men who played a huge part in the staging of the four-day game, Newport chairman Mike Knight and twin brother Dave, were savouring the occasion as they chatted to anyone and everyone.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Mike. “I remember driving home from the last Glamorgan game played at Rodney Parade (a one-day match against Yorkshire) in 1990, after the ground had been sold, and Dave said we’ll never see county cricket in Newport again.

“So, to see it here again 29 years on is magnificent, it brings a tear to the eye.

“I saw the wicket off the third ball and then after that I saw very little of the cricket because I was walking around meeting people.

“There were a lot of old players at the game, and a lot of people who’ve been involved in the club, and people who played against us in the Western League.

“So many people have contributed to this game, it’s incredible, and it has been a good advert for Newport Cricket Club.

“If the game goes four days and we have good crowds then I think there’s a chance Glamorgan will be back.

“There’s that 100-ball tournament next year so Glamorgan are going to be looking for another venue during that period and hopefully we’ll be in the frame for that.

“Glamorgan have been very helpful with this game, they’ve placed a lot of trust in us and hopefully we’ve delivered.”

Glamorgan were made to toil after lunch with Bracey and Roderick sharing a stand of 199 for the fourth wicket.

Bracey reached his century with a boundary and Roderick had made 88 before he was lbw to Timm van der Gugten.

Bracey went on to make 152 before being caught off the bowling of de Lange.

At the close, Gloucestershire were on 360-6, with Ryan Higgins on 25 and Graeme van Buuren on 21.