NEWPORT COUNTY 1979-80: FOURTH DIVISION PROMOTION AND WELSH CUP DOUBLE
GARY PLUMLEY says Newport County’s first line of defence was always leading scorer John Aldridge – and it took them to promotion and the Welsh Cup for the only time in their history.
Aldridge was signed from South Liverpool in May 1979 and in only his second start he scored twice against Tranmere Rovers.
From then on the goals flowed for Aldridge, who finished the season with 14, helping County finish third behind Huddersfield and Walsall in the Division Four table.
Plumley, who until last year was a Newport estate agent, can also recall a conversation in the dressing room which predicted how the season would turn out.
“John Aldridge was a key player and our first line of defence,” says Plumley.
“Their goalkeeper would throw the ball out to the full back and John would be there like a shot. He would then get the full back to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper as you could in those days and that was his job done.
“Everybody felt confident that season. I remember we had a conversation in the dressing when Walsall were going like a rocket and we knew that our last game of the season was against them.
“Someone said: ‘Imagine if we have to go to Walsall and win to get promotion or even win the league’. Then our penultimate game of the season was at Rochdale – and we lost 2-0.
“And someone remembered what we were saying but by then Walsall had fallen off the top of the table and we went up there and won 4-2 to clinch promotion.”
This was also the season that County were to write their name on the Welsh Cup for the only time in their history by beating Shrewsbury Town over two legs.
The Ironsides, as they were known, went on to take their place in the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following season when they reached the quarter-finals, losing to Carl Zeiss Jena.
“When we were playing in the first and second rounds, it didn’t occur to us that we could get into Europe the next season, it was just another game in the Welsh Cup,” added Plumley.
“Obviously the further that you progress you start to think: ‘We have got a chance here’. There were some tough games, like having to go to Wrexham in the fifth round.
“Then after we won the semi-final we had to play Shrewsbury in the final, and by then we were used to winning games.
“We had a winning mentality. And it proved to be the one and only time that Newport County have ever won it.”
1. Jimmy Goodfellow: He managed Cardiff City and was then physio at Plymouth and Sunderland before returning to work with Cardiff again until retiring.
2. Paul Walsh: A local-born player who failed to make a first team appearance for the club but is still believed to be working in the Newport area.
3. Richard Walden: He worked as a sales manager with a sportswear firm and was also an academy monitor before his death in November 2009 aged 61.
4. Keith Oakes: He studied physiotherapy and has worked for Peterborough United twice and Lincoln City. He lives outside Lincoln and works in a Newark warehouse.
5. Shane Carey: A former Bristol Rovers schoolboy, he is still living and working in the Langstone area of Newport.
6. Gary Plumley: A former publican, he lives in Chepstow and used to run his own estate agents business in Newport. Now helps on the family stud farm. His father Eddie used to be the Watford chief executive.
7. Mike Dowler: A Welsh youth international, he is now a lecturer in business and enterprise at Coleg Gwent’s City of Newport Campus.
8. Grant Davies: A Barrow-born defender, he joined Gwent Police and is now a firearms instructor based in Newport.
9. John Relish: He twice managed Newport then Weston-super-Mare, Merthyr Tydfil and Bath City and is now a regional manager for the Football League Trust.
10. Trevor Thompson: He is now living on the outskirts of Lincoln. He used to manage Lincoln Moorlands Railway and now works as a painter and decorator.
11. Jeremy Brown: He spent many years working in the Cwmbran area and now lives in Canada.
12. Len Ashurst: Managed Cardiff City twice, then Sunderland and Weymouth and worked for the Premier League in their academy system. He is now retired and lives in Whitburn near Sunderland.
FRONT ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
13. John Aldridge: He has managed Tranmere and co-owned a wine bar. Now works in the media in Merseyside.
14. Nigel Vaughan: Coached Wolves school of excellence then became head of youth at Shrewsbury, was boys director of Albion Hurricanes FC in Houston, Texas and is now at Rush Sports.
15. Steve Warriner: After returning to his native Liverpool he worked in the pub trade, car sales and for the last 13 years has been manager of a supported living scheme in Bootle.
16. Tommy Tynan: He became commercial manager of Plymouth Argyle then a publican in Sheffield and Plymouth, where he is now a taxi driver and newspaper columnist.
17. Dave Bruton: He lives in Thornbury near Bristol and went into the financial services industry.
18. Howard Goddard: Now lives on the Greek Island of Rhodes. He has coached overseas, and managed Whitchurch United and Andover in his native Hampshire.
19. Steve Lowndes: Moved into teaching then ran his own physio practice. Now director of football for the Cirencester football academy and Cirencester College.
20. Kevin Moore: He owns a nursing home in Blackpool and has business interests in Florida, where he spends a lot of time.
21. Neil Bailey: He went into coaching with Blackpool, Manchester United, the PFA and Sunderland. He is now back with the PFA working as a coach educator in the north west.
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