FA Cup: Newport boss Mike Flynn hopes to inspire new generation of fans

Newport fans
Newport's ground Rodney Parade is the only ground in Britain to serve three teams, Welsh rugby region Dragons, Newport RFC and Newport County AFC
FA Cup fourth round: Newport County v Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport Date: Saturday, 27 March Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio London & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Newport County manager Mike Flynn says Saturday's FA Cup fourth round tie with Tottenham is the chance to gain a new generation of fans.

Spurs will be the first top flight team to play a competitive game in Newport since 1986 - three years before the old Newport County went out of business with debts of around £330,000.

This is the furthest the new club formed just months later has ever been in the competition and a record crowd of almost 10,000 for a football game is expected at Rodney Parade to see if the League Two side can cause an upset.

"It means everything," said Newport-born Flynn, who had four spells as a player at the club and became manager in March, 2017.

Reward for players, club and fans

"I think that we could get a generation of fans back now.

"I think we lost them when we went out of business, and now it's really captured the imagination of not just the football club, but the whole city.

"It's a reward for the players for all their hard work that they've given me and for the football club for everything they've put up with and gone through.

"And it's a reward for the fans for chipping in and saving the club and everybody who's put their time and effort in to Newport County over the years; it's a big thank you from me to them."

Rodney Parade was only a rugby ground until Newport County started playing there
Rodney Parade is home to the Dragons and Newport rugby teams as well as Newport County

Promotion-chasing Exiles are unbeaten in 2018, including an upset against Championship club Leeds United in the last round.

Flynn believes his team have what it takes to pull off a shock against the eight-times winners.

"If any player thinks that we can't win on Saturday then they'll probably be sat next to me or up in the stand," said Flynn.

"We've got to believe we can go and cause an upset otherwise we might as well just take the money from the ticket sales and give them the tie.

"I'm hoping that the atmosphere the surroundings help us as well, you've got to factor all this in.

"I'm so glad we got drawn at home, I fancy our chances a lot more at home than I would have at Wembley.

"I'm getting more confident as the week goes on."

Culture shock

Rodney Parade's capacity has been temporarily increased to 10,000 and Flynn is hoping its modest facilities can help knock Tottenham's stars off their game.

A new pitch will provide ma good playing surface, but the dressing rooms are in a hut-type building in a corner of what is a traditional rugby ground.

"It's an old-fashioned stadium," added Flynn. "It is quite a small changing room the away one, it's cold.

"It's old, but it's good enough for us, it's our home.

"So for us it's important and it is intimidating to go to Rodney Parade.

"It will be a bit of a leveller. The pitch is a lot better than it was by it's still not Wembley."

'I doubt they'll remember me'

For one of Newport's players the tie offers a second chance after coming so close to an upset in the fourth round in 2017.

Striker Paul Hayes scored twice as League Two Wycombe lost 4-3 at White Hart Lane, Spurs coming from 3-2 down to score twice with a minute left.

"We just went there, we didn't change anything," said the 34-year-old.

"Some teams go to bigger clubs and sometimes change their formation, tactics, but Wycombe just went there, we do play direct, played up against them and caused them problems.

"Likewise we will try and do on Saturday.

"I very much doubt that they'll remember my goals.

Paul Hayes is a former Wycombe Wanderers player
Paul Hayes joined Newport County from Wycombe Wanderers

"Building up to it you hope that you're obviously going to do yourself well and proud, but you know it was just one of those situations.

"The referee played over time so we just had to get on with it.

"The boys have done ever so well to get this far so whoever the manager picks will go out there and do themselves proud."

Hayes joined Newport in October after contacting Flynn via LinkedIn, but then wasn't able to play until January after problems with his registration.

He's determined to make up for lost time.

"Luckily I've done well in the Cup, scoring against Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham," he added.

"The Cup's been good to me, I've been very lucky."

Hayes added: I've just been fortunate and lucky enough to come here and to be here against Tottenham and play some part on Saturday.

"I'm going to cherish it, enjoy it."

Write your own history

Mike Flynn watches Newport County
Manager Mike Flynn is a former Newport County midfielder

A fifth-round appearance in the 1948-49 season is Newport's best run in the competition and they haven't beaten a top-flight team in a competitive game since defeating Sheffield Wednesday in 1964 in the third round.

Flynn says his final message to the players just before kick off will be to grab their opportunity with both hands.

"I'll tell them to go and enjoy it," said Flynn.

"Go and express yourselves, start right, get up against them.

"You can write your own history at the end of this if you go and get in the hat for the next round."

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