Sunday, May 5, 2013. A date that will live long in the memory for Newport County AFC as the Club returned to the Football League after a 25-year absence.
Led by the late great Justin Edinburgh, in his first full season in charge, the Exiles saw off Welsh rivals Wrexham 2-0 at Wembley thanks to goals from Christian Jolley and Aaron O’Connor to clinch promotion from the National League – then called the Conference Premier.
The Club are still going strong in SkyBet League Two having created many magical memories along the way, but what happened to the heroes from seven years ago?
Lee Minshull is our next focus.
The midfielder joined up with Newport County AFC in January 2012, on loan from AFC Wimbledon, after spells with Ramsgate, Deal Town and Tonbridge Angels.
Manager Justin Edinburgh was delighted to bring in the Kent-born man with the initial deal lasting just five weeks.
“He’s won the Conference, played in the Football League, come up the hard way through non-league football, there is a lot to admire there,” Edinburgh said to the media.
“He’s been available for a week and wanted to come here and play games. We are thrilled to have him.”
Minshull showed why he had earned the nickname The Tank as he added more bite and steel to midfield to help the Club climb away from the relegation zone – helping to secure three wins and two draws in his first five league games.
An early red card slowed his, and County’s, momentum as they slumped to defeat against Braintree but after serving his suspension, he helped the Club take 12 points from eight games, which was enough to secure their place in the Conference Premier.
A slight knock meant he missed the penultimate league game but he recovered for the final day defeat to Barrow before lining up against York City – in an unfamiliar attacking role – at Wembley in the FA Trophy final, which the Exiles lost 2-0.
Minshull’s performances during his time in South Wales impressed many and Edinburgh was quick to sign him up permanently after his release from Wimbledon that summer.
The midfielder had to be patient at the start of the 2012/13 season as the Club enjoyed a fine start to the season winning their first five games with just a single substitute appearance to his name.
A minor blip followed with two defeats and a draw before Minshull forced his way back into the team with a midfield masterclass against Barrow in a 3-0 win.
That convinced Edinburgh that Minshull was still a vital player for the team and he went on to miss just four more league games for the rest of the season.
County went on to finish third that season and his importance was outlined even further as he played every minute of the play-offs as the Exiles ended their 25-year absence from the Football League with victory over Welsh rivals Wrexham at Wembley.
The opening day of League Two in 2013 was a huge day for the club and the Exiles celebrated in style with a 4-1 victory over Accrington Stanley with Minshull cementing his place in the team.
A three-game suspension saw him miss games against Morecambe, Exeter City and Torquay United but he returned to the team and made 40 appearances in the league scoring four goals, including a last-gasp equaliser in a 3-3 draw at Accrington Stanley.
The Exiles finished comfortably in mid-table in their first season back in the Football League and Minshull agreed to carry on his adventure in Newport for another year.
He remained a key player under Edinburgh as he made 42 appearances across all competitions as County improved on their position, finishing ninth – just six points off the play-offs.
However, Terry Butcher’s arrival in the summer coincided with Minshull’s release, along with several other players.
He joined National League outfit Bromley, alongside Max Porter, and became an integral part of the midfield after a difficult start due to injury and suspension.
Despite his departure, Minshull still showed his affinity with Newport County as he helped the Supporters’ Trust in their takeover of the club by joining the trust and purchasing shares.
Minshull’s time at Bromley came to an end in 2017, after making over 60 appearances, when he joined the part-time game with Leatherhead after securing an assistant commercial manager role at a global construction services company.
In May 2018, the promotion-winning hero then signed for Concord Rangers and was later appointed player/assistant manager. The 34-year-old is still with The Beach Boys in National League South.