MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Exiles wishlist for a happy 2013
10:50am Tuesday 18th December 2012 in Sport
THOUGH the custom in December is to wax lyrical of the year that was, I’m instead going to look ahead to 2013.
Over the next fortnight I’ll state my case for the things I’d like to see happen in my respective sports, beginning this week with the bread and butter, Newport County AFC.
1) Newport County AFC sign a long-term deal to remain at Rodney Parade This to me is the ultimate no-brainer, the key ambition I have for the County in regard to their future and aspirations of that future being in the Football League.
This is imperative. The thought of being back at Spytty Park next August is positively terrifying and would represent the Exiles’ biggest setback since their reformation in 1989.
It can’t happen, it mustn’t happen and frankly, it shouldn’t happen.
I’d be surprised if any party involved with this, be it the County, Newport RFC or Newport Gwent Dragons, feel everything involved in this complex ground share is a roaring success. Things could, probably, run smoother.
But as an experiment on the “let’s see how it goes and take it from there” front, surely this has been a great move for all involved?
Credit must chiefly go to the Rodney Parade ground staff, quite frankly without peer in my estimation for the stunning job they’ve done this season so far to keep the playing surface playable through appalling conditions.
Taking on a football team is a massive undertaking, far more so than a rugby tenant coming to a football ground, and the transition has been almost seamless.
I’d like to also give credit to the volunteer staff at Rodney Parade, both the faces familiar to County fans and the ones who aren’t, because the welcome has never been less than lovely for Exiles games.
They’ve truly embraced a move that can have long-term benefits for everyone.
My number one wish for Newport County and for Newport sport in general, is that this is just the start. The future is at Rodney Parade.
2) County fans realise how good things are and start to enjoy this more Oh here he goes, old (insert tired pun-based around my surname) slagging off the fans and moaning about us again. Except I’m not at all.
I wish, honestly, that you lot would learn to stress less, so conditioned are you to doom, gloom, crisis and turmoil.
There can’t be many clubs in the Football League who’ve had much greater cause for celebration in 2012 than Newport County.
You began the year ensconced in a relegation battle, a fight you won, albeit not in grand style, and to be honest, I’d have probably taken that and that alone back in January.
Yet as I write this, Newport County are TOP of the Conference. I’ll repeat that. Top of the Conference.
Top of the league, without having to hand out long-term contracts on Football League wages (Forest Green) or simply throwing cash all over the place (Crawley and Fleetwood).
Even if the Exiles don’t last the course, there’s got to be a fantastic chance they’ll make the playoffs.
The football is also radically different to last season, County now playing for possession, not bypassing the midfield. For my money they’ve been the most exciting side in the division at times.
And Wembley. You went to the home of football for the first time in your history in your 100th year. That’s the kind of thing you expect to see in Roy of the Rovers.
So where are the smiles? Where are the crowds growing game on game on game? What more do you want?
I’m only half joking. It’s like some County fans are simply conditioned to moan and now things are great, they can’t stop themselves, be it at the board, the manager, the goalkeeper. There’s always a gripe about something.
Every time I go to a game with Newport now I know there is a good chance they’ll win and I know there is a good chance it’ll be highly entertaining.
To me that’s everything I want and it makes my job far more fun. My sincere hope is that in 2013, many more of you will see that too.
3) Justin Edinburgh is tied down to another new deal on a long-term basis I fear for things when I hear a manager expressing disappointment with crowd sizes or the like.
I think County are a special club with a huge potential and I think Edinburgh thought that too, now I’m less sure.
I think it’s imperative he remains at the helm and hope the board do all they can to that end and that the fans show him how appreciative they are for the job he’s doing.
It was as if Newport County and Dean Holdsworth had both slightly fallen out of love with one another by the last days of Deano.
That is a mistake that should not be made twice. Edinburgh must remain.