Around the Blue Square


Last weekend saw the curtain come down on another thrilling season in the Blue Square Premier. And after visiting 9 grounds, watching 9 games and talking to various different people, my travels around the Blue Square came to an end.

 What a ride it has been. I have come from not knowing about the Blue Square Premier, to an avid fan. I have seen some fantastic games being played, most notably Luton’s 6-1 demolition of Ebbsfleet United. I have also met the most passionate fans like Dave and Ann, who follow Histon home and away and follow their team no matter what. It just shows you, you don’t have to support a big team to absolutely love watching the beautiful game.

 My Journey began at Priory Lane, the home of Eastbourne Borough. Here I met some fantastic people, working as volunteers, helping to prepare the ground for match day. I even saw at one point, the chairman Len Smith, drill in hand, helping with the last minute repairs. I have no higher praise than for these volunteers, who give up their time in order to help run the football club. I would like to thank Colin Hutchinson and Lee Peskett for showing me around such a fantastic club and I am glad they can look forward to another season in the top division.

 My next stop was Histon and the Glassworld stadium. Histon are only a village side and their rise up from the bottom leagues to the Blue Square Premier has been remarkable. Although I witnessed probably the dullest game of all my travels, I was able to speak to Histon captain, Matthew Langston, who has probably scored the most special goal in Histon’s history as they beat Leeds United in the FA Cup. This was also a great experience and I have to mention Graham Eales,  who works tirelessly and is well respected around the club for giving the chance to show my around the club.

At Crawley Town

 Crawley was my next destination as they played host to Cambridge United. Although Crawley boss Steve Evans has put together a strong team and were unlucky not to be challenging for promotion, I felt that the crowd did not do enough to get behind the team. I was standing in the away end and the Cambridge fans were making more noise and their team were losing!

 The next stage of my journey, took me to Chester. I was meant to go and watch the derby game between Chester City and Wrexham, but as a result of the police not being paid, the game was postponed. Consequently, this event along with the Chester City players refusing to get on the team coach on their way to play Forest Green Rovers, saw them expelled from the Blue Square Premier. To see yet another team erased from the game is sad and this has to be echoed by all football fans. But I honestly do hope Chester can rise again and make their way back to the top pyramid of non-league football and maybe even further.

 Luton Town provided me with the best atmosphere I have experienced at a Blue Square Premier game. Luton actually lost the game 2-1 against AFC Wimbledon, but the 7,000 plus crowd made the game entertaining. I was definitely impressed with such a huge crowd which would probably beat most attendances in the two bottom tiers of league football and even though they were tipped to win the Blue Square Premier this season, they finished 2nd, and I am strongly tipping them for an instant return to the league as they compete in the play-offs.

Ebbsfleet vs Barrow

 Onto Stonebridge Road, the home of Ebbsfleet United, where unfortunately for the home side, I saw them on the receiving end of two heavy defeats. The first one being a 4-1 defeat by Barrow, meanwhile the second game a 6-1 defeat by Luton Town, was the best game I have witnessed not only in the Blue Square Premier, but throughout my time following football. Luton were 1-0 down at half time and not playing very well. The funny thing was at half time, the Luton Town fans were all disappointed but I heard one of them say ‘wouldn’t it be funny if we battered them second half.’ The team must of heard him as they not only scored 6 goals, they completely outclassed the opposition.

 I then made the trip to AFC Wimbledon and even had the privilege of taking my girlfriend for her first experience of non- league football. She absolutely loved it and I think I have passed the bug onto her. Although I don’t think she was impressed with the language of the home fans, but that’s all part of football.

Action from Newport County vs Maidenhead United

 The Blue Square South was my next destination and a trip to champions Newport County. This was to be my first experience of watching Newport and after they played Maidenhead United off the park with some neat football, they thoroughly deserve to be in the Blue Square Premier next season and I wish them the best of luck.

 My last trip of the season was a Thursday night trip to Hayes & Yeading, which in truth left much to be desired. I did however for the first time, witness a female referee, officiating a game. However after dreadful performance, it will be a long time until female officials start refereeing league games.

Final Thoughts

 The Blue Square Premier has taught me that football is not only about money and winning, it’s about enjoying the game. I have seen the passion and commitment shown by not only the players, but by the fans and everyone involved with every club and it has really impressed me. The standard of football is not as good as some I have seen in the league, but you can’t beat the atmosphere at some of the grounds and being amongst proper football fans.


Newport County- Blue Square South Champions.



On a cold, wet Saturday afternoon, I saw my myself watching Newly crowned Blue Square South champions Newport County play Maidenhead United at the Newport Stadium. I had travelled to the South Wales City to visit my girlfriend’s Grandparents and on arriving at their house (located just a 5 minute walk away from the stadium), I noticed that Newport were playing at home. So off I went (don’t worry I just didn’t abandon my girlfriend and her Grandparent’s. I did stay there quite a while before I set out) and walked the short journey to the home of Newport County, and for £8 a ticket I wasn’t disappointed with the game I saw.  

This was the first time I had watched a game in the Blue Square South and I must admit it was enjoyable to watch. Okay the pitch and the conditions weren’t the best, but I was impressed with Newport County and they thoroughly deserved their 4-1 win and deserve to be playing in the top tier of Non-League football next season. With also a 1,000 plus crowd behind them, I feel Newport will adjust well to the Blue Square Premier and teams will find it difficult to play against them. 

Club Profile

Nickname: The Exiles
Manager: Dean Holdsworth
Stadium: Newport Stadium (Spytty Park)
Capacity: 4,700
Founded:  1912 (reformed in 1989) 

 Newport County have been outstanding this season and have clinched the Blue Square South title by a huge margin with 4 games still to play. They are currently on 94 points and are hoping to break the 100 point barrier before the end of the season. 


Newport County were established in 1912 and joined the Football League’s Third Division in 1920. They stayed there until 1988 when they were relegated from the Football League. In that time they had managed to win the Welsh Cup in 1980 and had also reached the quarter finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup. However in February, the club went bankrupt and subsequently went out of business. But Newport reformed later that year and began life in the Hellenic League where they won promotion to the Southern League that year. In the 1994-95 season they were promoted to the Southern League Premier Division and when the reorganisation of the non-league system occurred, the club saw themselves take their place in the Conference South. Ex-Wimbledon star Dean Holdsworth took over as manager in April 2008 and in his first season guided them to a respectable 10th. However this season after being top of the table since September, Newport were crowned champions on the 15th March and will play in the Blue Square Premier next season, making them the first team to achieve promotion in the English football leagues this season. 

 Key player- Craig Reid

Craig Reid is Newport’s top scorer this season and has been in fantastic form, also leading the goal scoring chart in the Conference South. Craig started his career at Ipswich Town where he completed a scholarship before joining Coventry City in July 2004. He didn’t make a single appearance for the club and went on loan at Tamworth before joining Cheltenham Town in January 2007.  He made 14 league appearances before joining Grays Athletic. He initially joined Newport on a month’s loan last year, before signing a two-year contract with Newport at the start of the season. 

 Match Action

Newport County 4-1 Maidenhead

Attendance: 1,339

Newport County: Thompson, Bignot, Collins, Turk,Warren, Todd, Rose, Henry, Reid, Gilroy, Ake
Subs: Morgan, Rogers, Davies, Cochlin, Blackburn 

 Maidenhead United: Carter, Behzadi, Fyfield, Ochoa, Rose, Baddeley, Bernard, St. Aimie, Robinson, Knight, Collins.
Subs: Barney, Crook, Brown, Hippolyte, Tardif 

Newport (orange) and Maidenhead (red) battling for possesion


3:00pm – The game kicks off.
1 min 40 – Newport have their first corner of the match, which is taken by Charlie Henry. But it leads to nothing.
 5mins – Maidenhead have their first corner of the game, taken by Lewis Ochoa. Leads to nothing
10mins – GOAL! Newport County 1-0 Maidenhead United. 
Charlie Henry runs down the right and his low cross is met by Dave Gilroy who makes no mistake and scores from 3 yards.
16mins – GOAL! Newport County 2-0 Maidenhead United.
The ball is played to Charlie Henry and another low cross finds Craig Reid who stretches to poke the ball into the net.
20mins- Game Update.
Champions Newport are dominating possession and Maidenhead are struggling to cope with them. The home crowd is getting behind their team and they are playing some superb passing football
26mins – Chance for Newport! Charlie Henry takes a free-kick from the left and Warren Carter in the Maidenhead goal saves well, diving to his right to tip the ball around the post. Good save.
32mins – Another chance for Newport! A corner from Charlie Henry finds its way to Danny Rose and his right foot shot is just wide.
36mins – Penalty!
Craig Reid passes the ball to Takumi Ake who plays in Dave Gilroy. However he is tripped by Marcus Rose and the referee points to the spot. Craig Reid steps up but he blasts the ball over the bar and the score stays at 2-0.
43mins – Maidenhead create their first chance of the game! Adam Bernard is clean through but his shot is block by keeper Glyn Thompson. Down the other end, Charlie Henry runs from his own half and his right foot shot is saved well by Carter.
45mins- HALF TIME. Newport County 2-0 Maidenhead United.
Analysis:  Newport have been dominating the game so far and fully deserve their lead. Maidenhead can’t get into the game and Newport are easing to victory. 

Key player: Charlie Henry (Newport County) 

He has created both goals and his constant running and pace is causing Maidenhead problems. He is a joy to watch today. 

Newport celebrating


45mins- Second Half begins.
50mins- Chance for Newport! Danny Rose takes a free-kick but it is comfortably saved by the goalkeeper.
53mins- Another chance goes begging for Newport! Takumi Ake tries to bend his shot past Warren Carter but it is just wide of the right post. A good chance to treble their lead.
58mins- Substitution for Newport.   On comes Scott Rogers who replaces Takumi Ake.
64mins- Maidenhead bring 7 fans! Just noticed 7 Maidenhead fans who are singing to the right of me. Obviously the rest didn’t fancy their chances today and too right. They are struggling against a far stronger side.
65mins- Substitution for Maidenhead. Lee Barney comes on replacing Paul Robinson
67mins- GOAL! Newport County 3-0 Maidenhead United.
A throw-in on the right finds midfielder Danny Rose who’s fierce left foot shot flies into the top left of the goal giving the keeper no chance. Superb goal.
69mins- Substitution for Newport. Kerry Morgan comes on replacing Dave Gilroy
71mins- GOAL! Newport County 4-0 Maidenhead United.
A throw-in on the left finds its way to sub Scott Rogers who dribbles past a defender before unleashing a right foot shot past Carter in the Maidenhead goal.
73mins GOAL! Newport County 4-1 Maidenhead United
A consolation goal for Maidenhead as Glyn Thompson’s poor throw out falls to Sam Collins and his left foot shot sails into the top left of the net, giving the Newport keeper no chance.
74mins- Substitution for Newport. Nathan Davies replaces Wayne Turk.
Substitution for Maidenhead.  Joe Crook replaces Adam Bernard.
75mins- Game Update.The game is all but over now. Newport are in complete control and easing to victory against a far weaker Maidenhead team.

Newport Free-Kick


78mins- chance for Maidenhead. Lewis Ochoa takes a free-kick but it is straight at the keeper.
82mins- Conditions worsen! The pitch has now descended into a complete mud-bath with both sets of players slipping all over the place. Definitely not a good surface to play football on.
90mins- FULL TIME.
Newport County 4-1 Maidenhead United
Analysis: It was a comfortable afternoon today for the Conference South Champions and fully deserved their thumping 4-1 win. The dominated from start to finish and caused Maidenhead a lot of problems. 

 Man of the Match: Charlie Henry (Newport County)
It was a tough all today but Charlie Henry just pipped Craig Reid to claim the man of the match. Henry was a constant threat for Newport today and created two out of the four goals. His pace caused all sorts of problems for Maidenhead today and they just couldn’t handle him. 

Game Stats

Shots on target
Newport: 6
Maidenhead 2

Shots off target
Newport: 4
Maidenhead: 3

Newport: 8
Maidenhead: 1

Newport: 13
Maidenhead: 9

Yellow Cards
Newport: 0
Maidenhead: 3

Red Cards
Newport: 0
Maidenhead: 0