A Tale of Two Clubs: Rising from the Ashes

This year marks a full decade back in the Football League for Newport County. A remarkable achievement that everybody at the club should be extremely proud of. Of course, we are not the only team in the Football League that should take pride in their current position in the pyramid, with Saturday’s visitors, AFC Wimbledon, understanding our struggles perhaps better than anyone else in the current 92.

If, back in 2010, you had suggested that Newport County AFC vs AFC Wimbledon would have been a Football League fixture, both sets of fans would have been in dreamland. The two clubs have been on an incredible journey to get to where they are today, and neither would have been able to do it without the hard work and dedication of their fans and their local communities. 

AFC Wimbledon was formed by the Dons Trust back in 2002, following the relocation of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes. Fans rallied against the controversial decision, and AFC Wimbledon was born.

The club started life way down in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, finishing third in their maiden campaign before achieving back-to-back promotions and spending three seasons battling away in the Isthmian League Premier Division before achieving promotion to the National League South, then known as the Conference South. 

As fate would have it, our paths would cross for the first time on the opening day of that campaign. 

Our own journey back to this level had been long. After being reformed in 1989, we spent 15 years rising through the ranks, earning promotions from the Hellenic League and the Southern Premier Leagues to reach the National League South in 2004. 

Our match with Wimbledon in 2008 was the start of our fifth season at the level. Wimbledon had no issues finding their feet in the division, handing us a 4-1 defeat on the campaign's opening day and storming to the title league with 88 points. 

Not to be outdone, we paved our one way out of the division in emphatic style the following season. We cruised through the league, picking up a record-breaking 32 wins and 103 points to return to the National League and put ourselves within one division of the Football League. 

The 2010/11 season was our first season in the National League, and our paths crossed with Wimbledon again. We played each other at Kingsmeadow early in the season, putting on a 2-2 draw, before going one better and wowing the Newport Stadium crowd with a 3-3 thriller towards the end of the campaign. 

Wimbledon would go on to achieve promotion through the play-offs that year, defeating Luton in the final at Wembley and inspiring similar clubs up and down the country. 

Their journey, much like our own, saw them return to their home in the Football League, driven by the power of community and their fans, setting an example that other clubs will hopefully be able to follow. 

Our own return to the Football League was not far behind. The late, great Justin Edinburgh gave us one of the most incredible moments in our history when he led us to a 2-0 win over Wrexham at Wembley in 2013, securing our place back where we belong and ending our 24 years in the wilderness. 

The following ten years have produced plenty of highs and lows for both clubs. Wimbledon have returned to their spiritual home at Plough Lane, while we have made two further trips to Wembley in the play-offs and put several Premier League giants to the sword in various cup runs. Wimbledon also managed three years in League One after earning promotion in 2016. 

As we celebrate a decade back in the Football League, Saturday’s game is a reminder of the routes we took to get here. So, when you look across the terrace at the traveling AFC Wimbledon fans, offer a nod of mutual respect and remember that it is down to the sheer determination and grit of both you and them that the game is happening in front of you. 

Football is, and always will be, about the fans, and the two clubs on the field this weekend embody that. 


Tickets for the clash are available here.