Spytty K9 snooze time!

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Sat September 8th 2012, kick off 3pm.

Conference National at ‘Rodney Parade’, Newport County (Amber/Black) 0-0 Stockport County (Royal Blue/Royal Blue), att 2,306.
Admission 15 pounds (terracing), programme (good) 3 pounds.

Oh dear! every once a while a groundhopper has to tolerate a really duff game.
About 3 weeks ago, I got to see a 0-0 at Harpenden Town, however on that occasion the event was quite engaging right up to its conclusion, unlike here.

This game frankly was a bore, almost from start to finish. The ground itself, and main reason for my visit, Rodney Parade, is highly acceptable, better than average I’d say for the fifth tier of English football.

So ok, yes, there were a couple of close calls for a goal, in fact Stockport hit the angle of bar/post in about the 90th minute, but as regards sustained entertainment or excitement, it was thin on the ground. And disappointing  considering that Newport had started the season with  five straight wins to top the table. Perhaps the awards for manager of the month to Justin Edinburgh and player of the month to Aaaron O’Connor before the match had cursed this game?

So in the summer of 2012 a groundshare agreement had been reached with the rugby club, and unlike the wholly unsuitable athletics stadium of Spytty Park, or Newport Stadium to give it its correct name, Rodney Parade is a much more intimate affair. Basically it’s 3 side. Behind one goal is an uncovered terrace, which looks quite new, to the left from here, is the Bisley stand, the newish of the two, with a combination of rather garish seats in yellow, red and black (I am colour blind!). But, to the right is the real peach of this ground, and old-fashioned stand, with standing enclosure to the front, cavernous seats at the back and a lovely old style roof, not much seen now in the modern era.
The other end houses a rather tired looking hospitality stand with a smattering of boxes, which appeared not to be in use for the football.

It’s an easy ten minute or so stroll from the centre of Newport, and as I was on the train, I took advantage of  having a few beers. Newport used to be very down at heel, but some regeneration over recent years has definitely improved the ambience of the city.
Newport (Casnewydd) is a city in south-east Wales. It is located on the River Usk close to its confluence with the Severn estuary, about 12 miles (19 km) east of Cardiff. It is the third largest city in Wales, with a population of 145,700 (2011 census).

Newport has been a port since medieval times, when a castle was built by the Normans.
The town outgrew the earlier Roman town of Caerleon, immediately upstream, and gained its first charter in 1314.
It grew significantly in the 19th century, when its port became the focus of coal exports from the eastern valleys of South Wales.
Until the rise of Cardiff from the 1850s, Newport was Wales’ largest coal-exporting port. It was the site of the last large-scale armed insurrection in Britain, the Newport Rising of 1839 led by the Chartists.

During the 20th century, the docks declined in importance, but Newport remained an important manufacturing and engineering centre.
It was granted city status in 2002. It is the home of the University of Wales, Newport, and the Newport Gwent Dragons rugby union regional team,  and hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010.

First stop after arrival was to visit the indoor shopping centre for Mrs WestBerksPalace to complete  (photograph that is) the missing 12 (of 60) from the Newport ‘SuperDragons2’ art sculptures. All 60 are now on display in the shopping centre (originally they were all over the Newport area) until about the middle of October. Really worth a look if you like this sort of thing!  http://www.newport.gov.uk/superdragons/

Then lunch in Newport’s oldest pub, Samuel Smiths ‘Ye Olde Murenger House’, a fantastic ancient wood panelled boozer. Enjoyed the ‘Old Best Bitter’ and the very tasty ‘Organic Wheat Beer’, here. Food was good pub grub.
Time for a quick half of ‘The ‘Leveller’ from the Sprinhead Brewery in the Lloyds No 1, ‘The Queens Head Hotel’. A very tasty smoky mild.
After match, meeting Mrs WBP, and time for a quick pint of ‘Goldilocks’ from the Old Bear Brewery in the GBG listed Spoons, ‘John Wallace Linton’. Another tasty pint.

Back to the game, ‘Evans’ the Exiles left back took the honours for the MOM award, which said it all really. Both teams seemed to want to rely on the long ball at any opportunity. Stockport, from reading the pen pictures in the programme, clearly are a very young squad. I have a soft spot for Stockport, as a last-minute Dougie Freedman goal at Stockport in 2002, in front of 4,000 travelling Palace fans, kept us in the division (second tier), a highly cherished memory indeed! Spytty K9 (get it? canine!), the club mascot also had a quiet game, he had little reason to urge the crowd to get excited and get behind the team! If you want a long match report visit the club site, as the game didn’t justify more than a few words! Inexplicably the non league paper gave it 3 stars out of 5, was the reporter actually there I wonder?

Newport have more experience, and probably a bigger budget, but I don’t really expect to see either of these two teams pushing for football league status for a while, although clearly the groundshare is a very positive move for them, and the support for the team playing at a central venue has immediately improved, and will naturally help to entice players to the club.

In short, if the footy had matched the beer it would have been a cracking day out.


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