Newport County AFC are a football club with a chequered history.
The club were elected to the Football League in 1920. After seven decades in the bottom half of the league, the 1980s heralded both the brightest and darkest moments in the club's history. In 1980 'County' won the Welsh Cup, entitling them to play in the European Cup Winners' Cup the following season. The cup run turned out to be quite eventful, with County eventually drawing 2-2 (and being knocked out at the quarter final stage) at home to Carl Zeiss Jena - the eventual runners up.
The decade ended in a rather less glamorous way, relegation from the Football League and eventually winding-up in 1989. All was not lost however, as in June 1989 a new team was founded and elected to the Hellenic League (some four divisions below the Football League). Consequently the club’s aim has always been, and will remain, progression through the pyramid system to pursue a return to the Football League status held by the original club.
The Exiles obtained their nickname as a result of the need to play their inaugural season in the north Gloucestershire town of Moreton in Marsh at which venue they won the Hellenic League & Cup double, winning promotion to the Southern League.
After two seasons back home in Newport at Somerton Park, football politics consigned them to a further two seasons of exile at Gloucester and the club was forced to resort to legal action to protect themselves from being forced out of the English football pyramid.
That litigation proved successful, a landmark High Court verdict enabling them to have a permanent home in Newport at the then newly built (and now Conference standard) Newport Stadium. The club’s first season back home, in 1994-95, saw them promoted to the Southern League’s Premier Division by the winning of the Midland Division Championship. That was achieved by a 14-point margin and, on the way to that championship, the club set a then Southern League record by winning 14 successive league matches.
The club’s away following is among the largest outside the Football League and supporters have generally been the source of inspiration, a group having founded the current club those 14 years ago. The club is probably unique in non-league football as many of its fans live far from Newport.