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Thursday 1st May 2014 ko 18.30

Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two

NEWENT TOWN 4 (Bayliss 7 12 Gibbs 69 74)

LONGFORD AFC 1 (Edwards 16)

Att 31

Entry FREE

No Programme (the club issue for “Big” games)

Tea £1

Around 15 years ago, I was being given a lift to watch an Intertoto Cup game at Newtown AFC, and our driver had decided to avoid the motorways and take the scenic route, just clipping the top of the Forest of Dean. We passed a sign for Newent and he commented that the town’s club used to be in the Gloucestershire County League, but had disappeared off of his radar. I was new to groundhopping, and took a stupidly snobby attitude to the perceived quality of football on show. The simple fact was that I was in no position to judge, and when I saw this fixture on the club’s website, I felt I owed them a visit. It may have taken me far too long, but it was a good choice on my part, the football was excellent.

Other than being home to Europe’s biggest cul-de-sac, Newent is famous for being the birthplace of the record producer Joe Meek best known for producing the Tornados hit “Telstar.” It is a typically English market town, even if it is a mere 20 miles from the Welsh border! After the madness of the Belgrade derby it was a pleasure to return to the simple pleasures of watching a nearby game and avoid the odd shower! Wildsmith Meadow is easily found. Its on the B4125 in the hamlet of Malswick on the eastern edge of the town. Just aim for the “Travellers Rest” pub!

Newent were founder members of the County League but a mixture of bad luck and financial problems saw them sink to the depths of the North Gloucestershire League. They’ve now got a committee that’s as efficient as it is friendly, I loved watching Kevin the chairman make a point of shaking the hand of each and every player and official after the game, class after all costs nothing. They won the North Gloucestershire League last season, in dramatic fashion in a winner-takes-all encounter with Milkwall. A marquee was erected and Wildsmith Meadow was packed for the game which Newent won 1-0 with a 90th minute diving header from substitute Justin Halfpenny.

They’re well placed for a consecutive promotion too, Darryl Bayliss had far too much for a weak Longford defence grabbing two early goals. Longford responded with Marc Edwards spectacular free kick but the points never looked like leaving Newent, and Pat Gibbs walked in two late goals to give the scoreline a more realistic edge.

The longer-term aim for the club is a return to the County League, and looking at these pictures you’d think that would be a gimme with these facilities. Not a bit of it, apparently the changing rooms are 6 inches too small! The club would like to move, and have identified a site closer to the town centre. The stumbling block will be the cost of the land, houses would make the landowner far more money, but there’s something infectious about the club’s enthusiasm that makes me think if there’s a way, Newent Town will find it.