Newport County v Man United: 'It's the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning'

  • ITV Wales' sport reporter Matthew Southcombe went behind the scene of Rodney Parade

Who said the magic of the FA Cup has faded? Certainly no one in Newport.

"It's the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning" Tim Thraves jested, proudly sporting his amber and black tie.

His beloved Exiles, who he's followed in one form or another for 70 years, have earned a reputation.

Manchester City, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur have all faced the south Wales club in recent seasons and all of them had a good fight on their hands.

But this weekend County fans will witness their biggest spectacle yet when they play host to Manchester United - arguably the most recognisable football club in the world.

Tim Thraves says County's clash with Manchester United is "the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning". Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Tim said: "It doesn't [get any bigger than is]. It's massive. Everyone wants to play Manchester United.

"I really hope we give them a game, and I believe we will. "

Every team in the English footballing pyramid dreams of a major draw in the FA Cup. The financial benefits can set the club up for a generation.

This time will be no different with Newport County set to pocket £400,000 from the Red Devils' visit.

Tim said: "For the smaller clubs like County it is vitally important."

But to fans like Tim, this is the latest addition to a turbulent story of a club who have gone bust, climbed the ladder and are now battling with the heavyweights of the game once again.

The excitement building is immeasurable. Tickets for Sunday's fixture sold out in minutes and an extra stand has been built to accommodate demand.

It's a far cry from the dark days of the late 1980s which saw the club get into tens of thousands of pounds in debt and eventually collapse.

A Phoenix club, which we now know as Newport County AFC, emerged from the ashes with volunteers dedicating their lives to bringing professional football back to the city.

Eastleigh's Paul McCallum and Newport County's James Clarke shake hands after the Emirates FA Cup third-round replay match. Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Tim said: "Things went very wrong when we finished in the football league. It was terribly sad.

"When Somerton Park ceased to exist, Keith Cooper, the referee, walked off the pitch and there was an eerie silence."

However, Rodney Parade, now the home of Newport County AFC, will be far from silent on Sunday as more than 9,000 fans pack their way into the ground.

Kick-off is at 16:30 on Sunday 28 January 2024.

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