“Nothing compares to this – I will never forget this moment”
“If you were making a film this is the script you’d use”
“I was trying to talk to the team after the match and I was getting emotional. I could feel tears coming because I knew what it meant. We were so close to getting over that line”
The Great Escape: Newport County 2016-17 tells the amazing story of how local boy Michael Flynn and his team beat the bookies’ odds and confounded their critics to secure their place in the English Football League.
On March 4, 2017, Newport County AFC were bottom of League Two and a massive 11 points from safety - with just 12 games left to play -after a 4-0 thrashing at home to closest rivals Leyton Orient.
Five days later, experienced manager Graham Westley was sacked with the club seemingly doomed to return to the non-league wilderness where they had spent 25 years before winning promotion in 2013. The 'Exiles’ looked dead and buried before hometown hero Michael Flynn was appointed caretaker manager and tasked with the ‘mission impossible’ of salvaging their season.
Written by South Wales Argus football reporter Andrew Penman and featuring all-new interviews with those at the heart of the story, it is essential reading for all County supporters and Welsh football lovers.
A remarkable six wins in the next 11 games saw the 'Exiles' climb out of the bottom two ahead of a final-day showdown with Notts County at Newport’s Rodney Parade on May 6.
With the match level and relegation rivals Hartlepool United winning, County were destined for the drop with just 90 seconds of the season remaining.
But there was one more twist worthy of Hollywood itself as defender Mark O’Brien volleyed in a spectacular 89th-minute winner and Newport’s biggest football crowd since 1983 poured onto the pitch to celebrate an incredible end to an incredible story.
Andrew Penman is the football reporter for the South Wales Argus in Newport.