"EDITORIAL ... by ROGER PANTING"
"Last Saturday I saw Pontypridd entertain Neath at Sardis Road. Five minutes before the scheduled kick-off it was announced over the P.A. System that the kick-off was to be delayed by ten minutes due to crowd congestion. A gentleman displaying a Pontypridd shirt immediately got to his feet and hollered, "Anything Newport do, we can do". That was a perfect example of the hostility that is likely to be addressed to the Newport club and its supporters in the coming months, so they had better start learning to live with it. "Cheque Book Charlie", "Bok and Ambers" and "What a waste of money" are comments that will come their way in abundance and the more successful Newport become the more these comments will increase. However, it is futile to rise to the bait and the only way it can be answered is by letting your team do the talking on the field. It comes with being a successful club and hence I was a little surprised that Robin Davey, the Chief Rugby Correspondent of the South Wales Argus, should speak out with such venom. "Ponty Consign Rugby to the Gutter" was Robin's headline, accusing Pontypridd of plumbing the depths and dragging the game through the mud by their gloating behaviour. In the match programme for the Pontypridd game I urged the club to be patient and, bearing in mind Newport's lack of match practice together, I expected a Pontypridd victory. Newport performed with considerable credit, building up a 15-3 lead, but in the end lack of togetherness ultimately told and Pontypridd were full value for their win. All those present will have been heartened by Newport's performance and in the return game in January Newport will have every chance of turning the tables at Sardis Road. If they are successful then is the time to point out that Newport, as a club, were disappointed by Pontypridd's attitude at Rodney Parade and now we have proved our point. As it stood, it sounded like sour grapes that Newport lost, but the supporters will have noted how much it meant to Pontypridd, which is ample evidence to illustrate that Newport's scalp is now a prize, whereas in former years all sides had to do was to turn up at Rodney Parade to get the required result."
"On a more positive note, The Western Mail headline last Saturday read, "Newport in Super Show". When was the last time that Newport had such plaudits? 50 points and 6 tries away from home indicated a vastly improved performance from the second half against Pontypridd. Gareth Cull continued in his rich vein of form, landing all 6 conversions, together with 3 penalties."
"Last Saturday saw some impressive performances from former Newport players around the country. Matt Cardey collected two tries in Llanelli's record 60-18 win over Cardiff. Jan Machacek and Sven Cronk were impressive in a dominant Pontypridd pack and it was especially pleasing to note Nicky Lloyd's three tries for Dunvant at Ebbw Vale. It must have been somewhat strange for Lloyd to see his regular half back partner at Newport, Shaun Connor, in the opposition ranks."
"As for the Pontypridd match, today will see a return to Rodney Parade for a number of Newport's opponents . . . Andrew Peacock and Brad Clark in the forwards, Richard Smith, Shaun Connor, Jonathan Hawker and Alun Harries behind. Ebbw Vale, like Pontypridd, will view Newport as "a chosen club by the W.R.U." and will no doubt be anxious to reinforce their view that they are Gwent's Premier Club. They have started impressively, being the league's top point scorers to date, and lying in second position. I predicted a Pontypridd victory . . . today I'm on the side of history, as Ebbw Vale have only won once at Rodney Parade since 1982."
"There is a buzz at Newport, there is a game going on ... you can feel it, you can hear it in the atmosphere, the winter green, the crowd and, yes, Rodney Parade is back alive. After years in the wilderness the Rodney faithful have something to look forward to - and the season has only just started."
"The summer was spent recruiting players, the coach Allan Lewis had decided to stay, and in the days and weeks that followed the Argus was revealing the names of players likely to join and the players who had agreed to join . . . Peter Rogers, Shane Howarth, David Llewellyn, Damien Cummins, Rod Snow back at Rodney Parade, Simon Raiwaiui, Andy Marinos, Franco Smith and, to cap it all, Gary Teichmann, the former Springbok and South Africa's captain for some 36 internationals. Was this really happening at Rodney Parade? Newport RFC, the Black and Ambers, are back. The crowds are already appreciative of all that has been provided."
"The inspiration has been Tony Brown, Managing Director of Bisley, whose business interests in England are also here with us in Wales. How fortunate we are to have the services of a gentleman and a hugely successful businessman whose forthright manner saw what was needed and acted."
"The Club had never really got to grips with professionalism, and it became obvious that someone had to guide, push, help and decide what the future was to hold for a Club steeped in traditiom but with little direction. The Club had started with Arthur Gould, then Roy Burnett in the 50s, Internationals and British Lions in the 50s, 60s and, indeed, 70s, but this was the past and the future looked grim, but the businessmen replaced the Committee, new ideas, realism and financial help and the Club looks set to rewrite the "Pride of Gwent" Newport's history."
"As I am privileged to be Chairman, I can and will say publicly Thank you Tony Brown, Terry Greenhaf, Gerry Jones, Will Godfrey, Brian Bird and Martyn Hazell . . . without you all the Clwo might have been lost. Martyn Hazell, in particular: he was made President of the Rugby Club, a successful businessman whose dedication and support has been unstinting down the years. Without his help there would have been no Rugby Club to save. Gerry Jones, whose work behind the scenes has seen him invited to join the Board, but to all the Board, a big thank you. There have been others, too, whose help has been most appreciated, and to them a very big thank you for supporting me, and, of course, the Club (the original Vice Presidents) one and all."
"Today is the Gwent Derby - Ebbw Vale v Newport, if the past is anything to go by, today is not for the faint hearted but, then again, rugby was not for the faint hearted. However, it is my pleasure to welcome the Steelmen. They, too, are steeped in tradition and history. Rugby people will remember with pride some of the past heroes . . . Hunt and Evans at half back, Westwood and Knott in the centre, Carpenter at full back, Dimmock, Williams, Finney, Francis, to name but a few, along with David Nash, Arthur Lewis, Denzil Williams, Clive Burgess, Graham Jones - internationals produced by the top-of-the-valley club."
"I would add also that whoever wins today at least somebody will be smiling in the Watkins' household as my wife Jane's father, Wally Talbot, was an inspirational Chairman at Ebbw Vale for 20-odd years and is survived by his widow, Vel, who is a great Ebbw Vale supporter. As all sportsmen say , . . May the best ream win. If you believe that you'll believe anything! Welcome Gary, Franco, Andy, Robby, Simon, Damien, Shane and all the newcomers to the resurfacing of one of Wales, or should I say British, or indeed World famous, clubs . . , Newport (Black and Ambers) R.F.C. Amen!!"
"DAVID WATKINS, Chairman of Newport Rugby Football Club"