[Michael Flynn's] made the impossible, possible. I didn't think it could be done. We were in contact through a few texts and obviously you send your regards and say "all the best" but I thought it was going to be a difficult one in the situation they were in - 11 points with 12 games to go - but he made it happen. I care if it's League Two, it is a remarkable achievement and he made it happen. It is amazing to make up 11 points with 12 games to go. Amazing. It's unbelievable ... people will remember what he achieved.
2016/17 was, over all, a difficult season for Newport County AFC. There was a heartbreaking "near miss" in the Emirates FA Cup when a penalty in extra time saw rivals Plymouth Argyle win a third round replay at Rodney Parade to secure a trip to Anfield and there had only been five wins to celebrate all season.
The season had begun with Warren Feeney at the helm and by October, it was Graham Westley who was stearing the ship. By March, County were cemented to the bottom of the table and had just sucumb to a crushing 4-0 home loss to another relegation candidate Leyton Orient.
There were staring non-league in the face.
11 points adrift, 12 games to go!
The board acted. Westley was gone. Michael Flynn promoted from First Team Coach to First Team Manager. The next morning, Wayne Hatswell had arrived as Coach and Lennie Lawrence as consultant. A new era was in place and they were given a simple task ... "restore some pride in the shirt".
Just three days later, Flynn and his team had picked up their first win of the 'Great Escape' thanks to second half equaliser from Dan Butler and 89th minute winner from Joss Labadie.
Ryan Bird's penalty secured an away win against Morecambe just days later and the Great Escape had begun.
There were some losses along the way. A deflating 6-1 defeat at Adams Park will be remembered by all County fans. Plymouth Argyle sealed automatic promotion that day but for County supporters, eyes were on the events occuring at Brisbane Road.
Whilst County were struggling to contain a rampant Plymouth side, in North London, Leyton Orient were winning their first match since beating County at Rodney Parade ... a perfectly timed (from a County point of view) victory over Hartlepool United. That was the only game Orient won for the rest of the Season.
Hartlepool kept losing. County kept winning.
County closed the gap with an incredible run of four wins from five and a 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley saw them leapfrog Hartlepool United on 22nd April 2017. What was more remarkable about that victory was that Stanley had been on a 15-game unbeaten run before that defeat.
Interestingly, on the 24th April 2018, County ended another Stanley 15-game unbeaten run which meant the Lancashire side had to wait another 4 days to be crowned League Champions.
On the penultimate game of the season, County fans had a long way to travel to support the team take on Carlisle United. The supporters who travelled witnessed a defeat to the play-off contenders. There was also an influx of County fans who travelled a much shorter distance to Chesterfield FC as they cheered on the home side to a 1-0 victory over Hartlepool United.
The two defeats meant it all came down to the final game of the Season for County: a home match vs Notts County.
Over 7,000 County fans flooded into Rodney Parade to roar their team over the line and witness one of the Club's greatest achievements in the modern era.
Despite Hartlepool creating an upset against League Leaders Doncaster Rovers, defence was on top that day for County as inspirational performances (and goals) from the centre back partnership of Mickey Demetriou and Mark O’Brien saw the Exiles take three points against high-flying Notts County and secure their League Status.
The Twelve Results
1 - Crewe Alexandra - Gresty Road - 11th March 2017
Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Newport County AFC
2 - Morecambe FC - Globe Arena - 14th March 2017
Morecame FC 0-1 Newport County AFC
3 - Blackpool - Rodney Parade - 18th March 2017
Newport County AFC 3-1 Blackpool
4 - Luton Town - Rodney Parade - 21st March 2017
Newport County AFC 1-1 Luton Town
5 - Portsmouth - Fratton Park - 25th March 2017
Portsmouth 2-1 Newport County AFC
6 - Crawley Town - Rodney Parade - 1st April 2017
Newport County AFC 1-0 Crawley Town
7 - Exeter City - St James Park - 8th April 2017
Exeter City 0-1 Newport County AFC
8 - Yeovil Town - Rodney Parade - 14th April 2017
Newport County AFC 1-0 Yeovil Town
9 - Plymouth Argyle - Adams Park - 17th April 2017
Plymouth Argyle 6-1 Newport County AFC
10 - Accrington Stanley - Rodney Parade - 22nd April 2017
Newport County AFC 1-0 Accrington Stanley
11 - Carlisle United - Brunton Park - DATE
Carlisle United 2-1 Newport County AFC
12 - Notts County FC - Rodney Parade - 6th May 2017
Newport County AFC 2-1 Notts County
(M.Demetriou [Penalty]; M. O'Brien)