A DECADE on from clinching the Conference South title, Dean Holdsworth says he’s extremely proud of the part he played in helping Newport County AFC return to the Football League.

This Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the Exiles’ 2-0 win over Havant & Waterlooville that sealed promotion to the Conference – the level that the old club was playing at when it went out of business in 1989.

An incredible 4,221 fans packed out Spytty Park on that night in March 2010 and the majority raced onto the pitch at the final whistle after seeing two goals from Sam Foley secure the three points that were required.

They are special memories for Holdsworth, who was then in only his third season as a manager.

“I can’t believe it was 10 years ago, it seems so fresh in my mind,” said the 51-year-old former Premier League star.

“It was an amazing time for the club and a very special year to be involved in – that record of 103 points won’t be taken away from us, I don’t think.

“The journey we went on that season was incredible and they are great memories.

“Returning to the Football League was always the target and I’m extremely proud that we helped the club take a big step towards that.”

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Goal hero Foley, who is now playing as an emergency centre-back for St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership, says he too will never forget what that County team achieved.

“That was some night,” said the 33-year-old as he cast his mind back a decade.

“I’ve gone on to play at Wembley, and in front of full houses at Celtic and Rangers this season, but that night was right up there for me.

“They are memories that will last a lifetime.

“When I first came to the club, we were playing in front of a few hundred fans and there were more than 4,000 there that night.

“The whole of Newport embraced what we were doing and it was a special night.

“I remember celebrating with the fans in Bar Amber afterwards and that was a kind of throwback to a different era really, you don’t get that anymore.

“We all became fans of the football club when we were there,” he added.

“And, as players, we were very close as well. We were a team of best mates, really.

“When you win something together you stay close and I still speak to Scotty Rogers, Gary Warren and Danny Rose a lot and keep in touch with nearly everyone else.

“It was nice to get the goals that night but it was a team effort throughout the season.”

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Those are sentiments that are echoed by captain Warren, who is hoping to win another promotion with Exeter City this season.

“It was such a good group and you don’t get that very often,” said the 35-year-old centre-back.

“We’re all still in touch in a group chat and we’ve been on days out, which shows how close we were and we still are.

“That night I remember all the fans gathered around the pitch. There were 4,000 people on the running track!

“It was unbelievable scenes and I think the referee blew up early so he could get out of the way.

“It was great to celebrate with the fans in Bar Amber afterwards – that was a special moment.

“The whole season was incredible and they are memories that will stay with me forever.”

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Holdsworth was delighted to see the club return to the Football League under Justin Edinburgh in 2013 and he’s full of praise for current boss Michael Flynn.

“I still follow the club and there have been some very special times over the past few years under Flynny with the cup success and the play-off final last year,” said the gaffer.

“He’s created a very high expectancy there but you will have a bad run at some point.

“I had some very testing times at Newport early on and he needs support from the board.

“Long-term, I think the club needs its own identity – a training ground and a stadium – and not to be renting a rugby ground.

“But remaining in the Football League is the main thing and that should not be taken for granted.”

South Wales Argus:

The County team on March 15, 2010 was as follows: Glyn Thompson, Paul Bignot, Jamie Collins, Wayne Turk, Gary Warren, Chris Todd, Danny Rose, Scott Rogers, Craig Reid, Sam Foley, Charlie Henry (Kerry Morgan, 69).

Subs not used: Paul Cochlin, Stuart Douglas, Martyn Giles, Kieron Blackburn.

Goals: Foley 24, 67.