Looking Back | Exiles Play-Off final win 2012-13

Sunday, May 5, 2013 is a date that will live long in the memory for Newport County as the club returned to the Football League after a 25-year absence.

To celebrate the 11-year anniversary of our win over Wrexham, we take a look back at the memorable play-off victory at Wembley with County legend David Pipe.

Having finished third in the 2012–13 Conference Premier that season, the Exiles secured a play-off place for the first time. A 2–0 aggregate win over Grimsby Town in the two-legged play-off semi-final saw County reach the final at Wembley. 

County saw off the Red Dragons 2-0 thanks to goals from Christian Jolley and Aaron O’Connor to clinch promotion from the fifth tier. 

Securing a place in League Two the following season, the Exiles captain recalled the memorable performance against the club’s Welsh rivals.

“The actual game is just hard to explain. When you’re playing in a game of that magnitude and at Wembley, the game is just blur. I remember certain set-pieces, I remember certain moments, but I was purely focused on my personal performance. 

“As a captain my job was to try and get everyone up for the game which I thought I did. It was hard to remember any on-field memories but afterwards the whole walk up the steps was just unbelievable.  

“When you start walking up and being the first one as captain is just a surreal feeling. Knowing what you’re about to do with the home fans and lift that trophy is just amazing. What Wembley and all these memories give you are just special. 

“The celebrations afterwards were just crazy too. To see so many fans, players and staff in tears of joy just gave me goosebumps.” 

The 2012/13 campaign was only the Exiles’ second season as a full-time outfit and only their third season in the Conference.

The club climbed its way back up the English pyramid after reforming in 1989, amid the original club folding as a result of financial ruin a year after relegation from the Football League. 

County's triumph at Wembley was the sixth time that a team finished third in the Conference had prevailed in the play-off final. 

And Pipe expressed the utter pride when captaining his home club to promotion at the first time of asking. 

“Winning promotion was brilliant, but winning it as captain was even more special. With it being with my home club and leading the boys to it, it was incredibly special. 

“It’s hard to put it into the words how much it meant to me as captain. Newport is my hometown club. I still live here, I’m local and people always reminisce about that day. 

“10 to 11 years on now and people are still talking about it. People still come up to me and talk about it. It is a game that will live long in the memory for myself and for the fans. It is a day that will be talked about forever."

Under the guidance of the late great Justin Edinburgh, the club secured promotion from the Blue Square Bet Premier in his first full season in charge. 

Having won the FA Cup and League Cup with Tottenham Hotspur as a player at Wembley, the promotion win was the former boss’ first taste of silverware as a manager at Wembley. 

And Pipe hailed the incredible impact Edinburgh had on him as captain and the squad that season. 

“Justin was massive for us,” recalled the full-back. 

“I’m a character but that man was genuine one. I genuinely believe he was the main vocal point and the reason the club progressed like it did. We did get promoted, but just the clever things he would do made us all tick. What he created was something really special. 

“For me personally, everyone knows before I came to Newport I was inside for quite along time. When he walked through the door, he saw what I was about and how I operated. A few days later he pulled me into the office and named me as the club’s captain. That was a very special feeling for me, and that was a true sign of how he was and how he saw our relationship. 

“We were a very talented group. I think people kind of underestimated us at the start. He brought in a lot of talent and he was the type of manager who would get the best out of everyone. As a manger, he had so many qualities and one of them was certainly that. 

“Throughout that season, we repaid him with personal performances and team performances. He was a very special, special manager”.

For the play-off final against the Dragons, 16,346 gathered at Wembley Stadium to experience the all-Welsh affair. The Exiles had already played Wrexham twice that season; losing 3-0 and drawing 1-1 in the reverse fixture, with the odds mostly stacked in Wrexham’s favour.

And Pipe spoke of the magnificent support the team recieved from the supporters that season. 

“The fans were incredible that season. I think we just galvanised and the crowds just grew and grew each game. Leading up to the play-offs the Hereford game really set the tone. 5,500 fans coming to Rodney Parade meant that the place was absolutely rocking, and that happened on a number of occasions.

“The play-off games were very raucious and very Newport too, something that drove us as players on to deliver success for the fans and the club." 

"It's the most amazing day of my footballing career, this tops everything I've done.


"I'm so proud of these players and these supporters, and everyone connected with this football club - this is well deserved. That's what dreams are made of and a lot of these people have sacrificed a lot this year.


"The supporters have made my job easy since I've been here, and this is for them, this is a payback."


Justin Edinburgh post-match 


Newport County Team

Starting XI: Lenny Pidgeley (GK), David Pipe (captain) Ismail Yakubu, Tony James, Byron Anthony, Andy Sandell, Lee Minshull, Alex Gilbey, Michael Flynn, Christian Jolley, Danny Crow.

Substitutions: Alan Julian (GK), Scott Donnelly, Andrew Hughes, Robbie Willmott, Aaron O’Connor.

Need any more incentive to re-watch the game? Watch the extended highlights now with the iconic commentary from Tim Thraves.