Where Are They Now? European Cup quarter-finalists 1980/81
STEVE LOWNDES laughs when he recalls the trip Newport made behind the Iron Curtain to play Carl Zeiss Jena in the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
County, who qualified for Europe by winning the Welsh Cup, booked a place in the last eight after beating Crusaders of Northern Ireland and Haugar from Norway.
They beat Crusaders 4-0 at home before drawing 0-0 away. In the first leg of the second round, they were goal-less before crushing the part-timers from Norway 6-0 with Lowndes on the score sheet.
“The pitch in Norway was like a bog and we didn’t think we were going to play because it was so heavy,” he said.
“They put plenty of sand on it and we managed to get a draw. Then, when we got back to Newport, we beat then 6-0 and it was enough to see us through.
“Oh God! Going to play in the away leg was strange because they wouldn’t let us fly directly to East Germany. We had to fly to somewhere like Frankfurt, then had a three-hour journey to the border
“They kept us there for a couple of hours, checking passports, and then had another two or three-hour journey to where we were playing.
“On the motorway, we just saw soliders in fields in the middle of nowhere. Then, when we got to the hotel, it was really strange. There were blokes in suits (the secret East German police, the Stasi) watching us.”
Newport got a 2-2 draw thanks to a Tommy Tynan double, to set up the return at Somerton Park, but it proved to be a night of disappointment for the South Wales side.
Lowndes says they did everything but score, and a single goal from Lothar Kurbuweit after 27 minutes was enough to send the visitors through to the semi-finals.
“The return was one of the most one sided games you ever will see,” he said. “We hit the bar. The goalkeeper was fantastic, but we just couldn’t score. They had only one shot, which was a free-kick.
“The ground was full with about 18,000 people two hours before kick-off. We were gutted not to have won because we would have played Benfica in the semi-finals.
“At the time the Cup Winners’ Cup was high-profile. We didn’t think we were going to get that far.
“You can watch the game on YouTube. My son watches it regularly and says it’s one of the most one-sided games you will see. A draw would have done us because, with the two away goals, we would have been through.”
- Steve Llewellyn: A midfielder who has managed Port Talbot and Afan Lido in the League of Wales and works as a teacher in South Wales.
- Karl Elsey: A midfielder who played for Swansea, like his father, John. Based in Gillingham, Kent, where he is a postman.
- John Aldridge: A striker who managed Tranmere Rovers and co-owned a wine bar. Now works in the media on Merseyside.
- Richard Harmer: A striker who left the game after leaving County but still lives and works locally.
- Dave Gwyther: A Welsh Under-23 striker, who lives in Killay, Swansea. Runs a painting and decorating business.
- Nicky Stanton: A defender who was born in Newport but is now living and working in the Gloucestershire area.
- Shane Carey: A former Bristol Rovers schoolboy now based in Caldicot, Gwent, and runs a company that supplies medical facilities to outdoor events.
- Richard Walden: A full-back who worked as a sales manager with a sportswear firm and was an also an academy monitor before his death from leukaemia in November 2009, aged 61.
- Dai Williams: A former outside-left who worked at the Llanwern Steel Works before returning to the club as a coach. He died in February 2015.
- Paul Lewis: A youngster who failed to make the breakthrough in the first team and is still living and working locally.
- Bobby Ward: A striker who signed from Glasgow Celtic and returned to live and work north of the border.
- Grant Davies: A central defender who joined Gwent Police almost 24 years ago and is now a firearms instructor based in Bridgend.
- Mike Sherlock: A youngster from South Wales who didn’t break into the first team and is now living and working in the Newport area.
- Gary Plumley: A goalkeeper, based in Chepstow. He’s been a publican, owned an estate agency in Newport and now helps on the family stud farm.
- Mike Dowler: A Welsh youth international goalkeeper who went into teaching. Now a lecturer in business and enterprise at Coleg Gwent’s City of Newport campus.
- Dave Bruton: A central defender, based in Thornbury near Bristol, who went into financial services, working as an area manager for Provident Finance.
- John Relish: A full-back who twice managed Newport, then Weston-super-Mare, Merthyr Tydfil and Bath City. Now a regional manager for the Football League Trust.
- Neil Bailey: A midfielder who went into coaching with Blackpool, Manchester United and Sunderland. He is working for the PFA as a coach educator in the North West.
- Jimmy Goodfellow: He managed Cardiff City and was then physio at Plymouth and Sunderland before returning to work with Cardiff until retiring.
- Neil James: A young player who is now on the staff of the University of South Wales.
- Steve Warriner: A midfielder who lives in his native Liverpool, where he has worked in the pub trade, car sales and is now the manager of a supported living scheme in Bootle.
- Tommy Tynan: A striker who was commercial manager of Plymouth Argyle, then a publican in Sheffield and Plymouth, where he is now a taxi driver and has had a newspaper column.
- Keith Oakes: A full-back who studied physiotherapy and has worked for Peterborough United and Lincoln City. He now works in a Newark warehouse.
- Len Ashurst: The Newport boss later managed Cardiff City, then Sunderland and Weymouth. He also worked for the Premier League in its academy system before retiring.
- Steve Lowndes: A midfielder who moved into teaching then ran his own physiotherapy practice. Now director of football for the Cirencester football academy and Cirencester College.
- Howard Goddard: A striker who is now living on the Greek island of Rhodes. He has coached overseas and managed Whithurch United and Andover.
- Kevin Moore: A winger who owns a nursing home in Blackpool and also has business interests in Florida, where he spends time.
- Nigel Vaughan: Welsh international midfielder who coached at Wolves and Shrewsbury before moving to the United States and is now director of coaching at Texas Rush.
Tagged Newport County, Steve Lowndes, Where are they now?