Newport 2 Wrexham 0

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Not fair. Not fair. Not fair. The Conference is host to football’s most fiendish final – a brutal bastard of a contest.

It’s mean to the second placed team in the division. And if you play like Wrexham did then even being the best side of the remaining four is not enough. Must have been heartbreaking for their fans.

I went up to support Newport and ended up admiring the north Walians – a team Justin Edinburgh feared and had no doubt would reach the final even though they faced Kidderminster in the (12)

Then again, Newport deserve a lot of credit for gathering the likes of Lenny Pidgeley and Christian Jolley and turning them into a history-shattering side that has finally put to rest the fiascos of the late 80s when their decline into a laughing stock was embarrassing and painful to watch.

As one of the few who witnessed County Mark 1’s last match – a 6-5 defeat to Kidderminster on a wet February night in 1989 – it was great to see Mark 2 back in the Football League.

That match remains one of the best I’ve ever seen and was a suitably insane not on which to finish – it epitomised County’s loony-beyond-belief lurch from one ridiculous crisis to the next.

Wrexham's pre-match dying fly
Wrexham’s pre-match dying fly

The Amber Gamblers were finally sucked into a black hole and out of that pit supporters emerged to carry on and, every now and again, it was a joy- yes, really – to watch them play at Moreton in the Marsh, Sussex and London.

And now, to Keep Cardiff Blue types who’ve seen their club defiled and desecrated, they seem the admirable, wholesome epitome of what football should be about.

Justin Edinburgh spoke powerfully about how important non-league football had become to him and his words struck a chord.

It was another surreal day out – almost the first person we spotted was Russell Grant, prancing down Wembley Way sporting a smashing Welsh Dragon tie (‘I live in North Wales’) and taking umbrage at South Wales Argus’s Mike Pearlman’s (‘Who are you supporting you’re chairman of Wealdstone?’)playful banter.

Keeper Maxwell goes up for a last-ditch Wrexham corner
Keeper Maxwell goes up for a last-ditch Wrexham corner

Ar Y Marc collared me into embarrassing myself on Radio Cymru – following voluble MP Paul Flynn no doubt left me burbling like an idiot.

As for the match, Wrexham played pretty much all of the good football, the passing was superb, the movement equally good and scoring first would surely have sunk Newport.

Their fans did most of the singing, and even gave Pearlman abuse when he leapt around the press box at 2-0.

Jolley was always likely to grab a winner the longer County kept it 0-0 – he’s a superb finisher, too good for non-league – and Pidgeley with a Southall-esque supremacy was the guy who ensured it stayed 0-0.

Jolley finally struck, the second goal was irrelevant and even Carl Zeiss Jena were roused to tweet their congratulations. Truly heart-warming to see County fans back in the promised land. Am full of admiration.

Wrexham fans deserve it just as much, sure, but County have come from perhaps an even lowlier low than Wrexham of late.

Since being bitten by the football bug in 1985, this has been the least enjoyable season ever.  But this game almost made up for it.


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