WHAT a pleasure it was to be at Rodney Parade on Sunday to witness an historic and fully deserved FA Cup victory for Newport County AFC over Leeds United.

What a joy it was to see manager Michael Flynn and super sub Shawn McCoulsky starring on Match of the Day later that evening and little County earning big headlines in yesterday’s national newspapers.

And what a bonus to be drawn out of the hat with the might Tottenham Hotspur.

It’s a delight for me to be writing my first column of 2018 in such circumstances.

This time 12 months ago I was writing about an “unsustainable” future on the bog at Rodney Parade and trying to be optimistic about the grim relegation battle ahead.

On FA Cup third round day in 2017 Graham Westley’s men were beaten 3-1 at Stevenage – their eighth defeat in a row – and they were five points from safety at the bottom of League Two.

It prompted then co-chairmen Gavin Foxall and Malcolm Temple to issue a joint statement backing Westley to keep County in the Football League.

“Ours was not a small problem and wasn't going to be a quick fix,” they explained.

“It was a significant issue needing major surgery.

“But we have united around the job and have total faith in each other that we will pull through.”

That did, of course, prove to be the ‘dreaded’ vote of confidence for Westley, who was gone within two months with the Exiles in an even more parlous state.

And nobody could have predicted the remarkable turnaround in fortunes masterminded by hometown hero Flynn, Wayne Hatswell and Lennie Lawrence.

The Great Escape from relegation last season was a minor miracle but the club’s rapid progress since then is arguably even more impressive.

County are 11th in the League Two table, just four points below the play-off places with 20 games to play, and they are enjoying the club’s best FA Cup run since 1979.

And we can now look forward to a fortnight of fevered anticipation ahead of the visit of superstars like Harry Kane and Dele Alli to Newport.

South Wales Argus:

“It’s definitely my proudest moment as manager,” said Flynn after Sunday’s dramatic late win over Leeds.

“It’s huge for the club and for the city. We’ve had a lot of tough times but now hopefully we’re going in the right direction.

“Yes, we have bad games. I’m sure people have bad days at work, but every single one of them was outstanding.

“We’ve had a tough week,” he added. “We had a fire at the training ground, which didn’t help preparations; we had illness throughout the camp and my little boy Samuel was in hospital the night before the game with bronchitis.

“He’s only four and a half months and it was a bit scary.

“We had all that thrown at us but they’re just an amazing group of players and I’m so proud to be their manager.”

Flynn should be proud of his players, who put in a superb performance to outperform the Championship outfit.

And, after two separate allegations of crowd trouble at Rodney Parade over the past month, it’s fair to say that the fans also did themselves proud on Sunday.

With more than 1,000 Leeds fans in the 6,887 crowd, many of them conducted in their singing by a friendly police officer, there was a terrific atmosphere all afternoon.

And the 5,800 home fans – 3,000 more than the 2,800 who attended the New Year’s Day victory over Exeter City – couldn’t have asked for a better day.

As the inspirational David Pipe points out, hopefully a fair proportion of those ‘new’ fans will return to support the team week in and week out rather than just turning out for the visit of Spurs before disappearing again.

“Anyone that’s visited Newport knows what it’s all about,” said Pipe.

“People don’t enjoy coming here for a reason – because of our team spirit.

“It’s massive for the club and for the community and hopefully a few of the extra people who came for the cup can come to the league games as well and keep us going.

“The fans mean a lot to us both home and away.”

If Sunday doesn’t convince you that this team deserves your support then I don’t know what will.

County fans haven’t had it this good for a generation and they should savour every minute of the rest of this campaign.