In 1876-77 John Leonard was again captain and 11 matches were played of which 9 were won and 2 drawn (Ely and Hereford). Newport beat Pontypool (2), Cardiff (2), Hereford (2), Panteg (2) and Swansea.
The first match against Cardiff was played on 2nd December 1876 at Newport and this was the first match that admission was charged at 6d (2.5p). Hereford arrived at Newport for the third match short and Newport loaned them 5 players. Newport scored 4t to 1g, 1t in a 12-aside match which was then regarded as a 0 v 0 draw.
New names to appear were : T. E. Lewis, son of Ebenezer Lewis (Maindee), R. Lane, E. Jenkins, son of a ship-owner who lived at Brynderwen, Maindee, B. Newman (brother of A. A. and C. H.), T. Mitchell (brother of W. and A. C.), Edgar Evans and Mitchell Graham. It is interesting to note that a number of the early players were ex-Monmouth School boys including C. H. Newman, W. Wood, T. J. S. Clapp, G. F. Harding and G. Rosser. This reflected the influence of Old Monmouthians in launching the club and adopting rugby football.
The Monmouthshire Merlin of 1st December reported that at its meeting on 28th November 1876 the Newport Town Council granted an application by the cricket and football club to be allowed to make a small charge for admission to the Marshes on the occasion of football matches.
Negotiations were opened with Viscount Tredegar and from Christmas 1877 the Club entered into formal possession on a yearly tenancy (a lease was granted about 10 years later) of what was to be the tennis/bowls ground until 2013, surrounded by the cycle track at Rodney Parade.
A celebratory grand opening was held on 24th May 1877 (Queen Victoria's birthday) reported in the 'Monmouthshire Merlin':-
"ATHLETIC SPORTS AT NEWPORT"
"On Thursday afternoon the new ground of the Newport Athletic, Cricket and Football Club was opened bt a series of capital sports. The ground is situated at the back of the Clarence Nursery, near Newport bridge, and it has been prepared at a cost of over £300. The weather was fine and there was a large number of spectators. The band of the 7th Mon. R.V., under Mr. Gabb played very efficiently during the afternoon. A programme of events was gone through, Mr. W. G. Cartwright acting as starter."
The competition winners included a second place for a young A. J. Gould in the Boys Race (200 yards flat).
J. Leonard was transferred from Newport by the National Provincial Bank and Will Phillips took over for more than half of the still remaining season. Whilst no match against Swansea is listed for this date the Star of Gwent reported tongue-in-cheek on 3rd February, 1877:-
"Down on the Marshes"
"On Saturday 3rd inst. some young gentlemen of Newport who, (finding life flavourless and insipid) are desirous of violent deaths, were in solemn conclave and striped jerseys assembled on the Marshes, where they will be joined by a few kickers from Swansea, who, weary of the insanity of contemporary existence, as practised in their part of the principality, have reconciled themselves to the severance of all earthly ties and the adoption of varied hose. The final ceremony will comprise an energetic wrangle for a piece of puffed out, leather covered, never-to-be-sufficiently-condemned bladder, which has been chosen the inanimate recipient of the departing, before mentioned, life weary. A few wild yells, a few murmured 'good-byes' and the Marshes will again be peaceful and down trodden; while the inquest will be held in the adjoining inn. They call it 'football' while they live!"