|Newport County 2 v 1 Leeds United|
Sunday, 7th January 2018 Kick-off 12:00
Thursday, 4th Jan 2018 19:14 by Tim Whelan
Our third round FA Cup tie at Newport County is on Sunday, with kick-off at 12 noon. It’s annoyed quite a few people that the game has been moved to an inconvenient time when it’s only being televised by BBC Wales, but if you’ve got Sky you can pick it up on channel 952.
As the crow flies Rodney Parade is about half a mile from Newport town centre, albeit on the opposite side of the river Usk. To get there by car you need to leave the M4 at Junction 24 and take the B4237, signposted Newport (E). After approximately 2.5 five miles turn left at a set of traffic lights, signposted B4237 (there is also the George pub on a right hand corner). Go under a bridge and at the next set of traffic lights turn right into Corporation Road.
Along this road you will see the ground on your left, but finding somewhere to park could be a bit more tricky. Most of the surrounding streets are covered by the traditional 'residents only' scheme, so you’ll have to look for the signs that spell out the restrictions. Otherwise, the town centre car parks aren’t too far away, and I’ve previously observed that there is plenty of street parking to be found just to the north of the railway station.
The only way you’d get there by train from Leeds at such a godforsaken hour would be to catch the 06.40, change in Manchester and Birmingham, hope it arrives on time (at 11.47) and then run like buggery in the hope of getting through the turnstiles in time for kick-off. The chances are that nobody’s going to bother to attempt that journey, but I’ve included the following directions for the benefit of Leeds fans who live a bit closer. It’s only about a quarter of a mile.
As you come out of the main station entrance turn left along the main (Queensway) road. Follow this road until you reach a large roundabout. Take the pedestrian underpass down underneath the roundabout and at the centre turn left towards Clarence Place/River Usk. After you have come back up to street level you should see a bridge in front of you going across the river. Cross the bridge and then take the first right hand turn into Rodney Parade and the stadium is down this road on the left.
It will be a bit early to get a drink before the game, but you might like to know that there are two Wetherspoons outlets near the railway station, the John Wallace Linton in Cambrian Road and the Queen's Hotel in Bridge Street. Also in Bridge is the ‘Lamb’, which usually welcomes away fans and is said to serve great real ale. In the other direction from the ground there is another Wetherspoons on Chepstow Road, the ‘Godfrey Morgan’.
There are also a clubhouse near the home turnstiles that usually admits away fans, and there is also the Excelsior Club a little further down Corporation Road (going away from the town centre). Food wise, there are quite a few outlets in the town centre opposite the railway station, and also a few chippies and a Greggs on Chepstow Road.
The original club were formed in 1912, and used to play at Somerton Park, which was quite a way to the east of the town centre, and involved a much longer hike from the railway station than their current home. Their history included one season as high as the old second division (1946/7) and after winning the Welsh Cup in 1980 they reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup-Winners Cup and came close to getting through to the Semis.
But this all came to an end with relegation from the Football League in 1988, followed by the failure to complete their first season in the Conference as the club went bankrupt. They had to be reformed by a fans group and restart from scratch in the Hellenic league. Worse still, for a few years the Welsh FA refused to allow the reformed club to play in Wales after they declined to join the new Welsh League, so they had to stage their home games in Gloucestershire, hence the nickname ‘The Exiles’.
They had to resort to legal action to win the right to play in Newport, but once that was sorted out they began to climb the non-league pyramid. They moved to Rodney Parade at the start of 2012-13 and celebrated by winning promotion back to the Football League at the end of the first season at their new home. The ground was first used in 1877, and was the home of Newport rugby club long before County came along as tenants.
It’s annoying that the official capacity of Rodney Parade is 11,676, but this is reduced to a mere 7,850 for football matches. As it’s primarily a rugby ground there is a big gap between the two end stands (both open) and the goalposts. Down one side there is the modern Bisley Stand (opened in 2011) and opposite that is the older covered Hazell Stand, which is mostly terracing but with some seats at the back.
Away fans get one side of the Bisley Stand, which is covered and has good facilities, plus a small block of temporary open seating at the South End. Thankfully the weather forecast for Sunday is pretty good. The entrance to both away sections is at the opposite end of the stadium to the home areas and is accessed along Corporation Road via a small pathway between some residential houses.
Usually these turnstiles are poorly signposted, but no doubt for our visit there will be plenty of police and stewards on hand to show us the way. Inside there is an away fans are treated to their own bar at the top of the Bisley Stand with plush seating and great views across the ground, though you’re not allowed to stay in there while the game is in progress.
Our allocation is 1,030 tickets in total, so it’s no surprise that they were put on sale via the ‘attendance tracker’ loyalty scheme, nor that they have now sold out. They cost £23 for adults in the Bisley stand, with various concessions from £9-19, though under 6s are free. For the open south stand the adult price is a mere £21.
Home tickets are also selling like hot cakes, and total sales so far are 6,500, including our allocation. It’s likely that the game will prove to be County’s second best attendance ever at the Rodney, though they are unlikely to beat the record (set at the end of last season when they needed a win to stay in the League) as some seats are unusable due to the presence of the TV gantry.
Home tickets are not available online or over the phone, only from the ticket office in person, and will be taken off sale at 7pm on Friday due to “safety reasons”. Presumably this means to stop Leeds fans coming down for the weekend and buying home tickets, but I’ve no doubt the South Wales whites will have got themselves sorted long before then.
If we can avoid the humiliation of yet another FA Cup defeat by lower-ranked opposition it should be a great day out!
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .
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