Deja vu as Newport County look to repeat their 1977 great escape

Media playback is not supported on this device

How Newport County escaped relegation in 1977

They never got round to making a sequel to the classic 1963 movie The Great Escape, but Newport County might just be about to put that right.

If they beat Notts County at a sold out Rodney Parade on Saturday, they will avoid relegation from the Football League four years after re-emerging from the football wilderness of the non-leagues.

Not bad for a side 11 points adrift of safety in League Two before caretaker boss Mike Flynn took over in March.

They might not even need to win. If title-chasing Doncaster win at Hartlepool it does not matter what County do, but supporters can expect those fingernails nibbled close to the quick on a monumental afternoon for club football in Wales.

For those long-associated with Newport football this weekend has a familiar feel.

Forty years ago, in 1977, Newport were staring down the barrel of losing their Football League status before executing their original incredible escape.

For Flynn this time, back then read Colin Addison, who took over in the January as manager with County eight points from safety at the bottom of the League pyramid.

Then it took five wins on the bounce, culminating in a 1-0 win home victory over Workington, to save the club.

Mike Flynn
Caretaker boss Mike Flynn made 99 appearances as a player for his hometown club Newport

This time the stakes are even higher.

Back in 1977, Newport would have applied for re-election to the League. This time, for Flynn and his men, failure on Saturday and the National League yawns wide and very unwelcome.

Addison, now 76, recalls the dramatic end to that 1976-77 season and has some words of advice for the man looking to follow in his footsteps.

"When I took over in the January, we were rock bottom, we had it all to do. We looked doomed," Addison told BBC Wales Sport.

"But it was a massive effort from all at the club. We just kept going, the lads saw it through, it became known as 'the great escape' and right now I want to see Mike Flynn do the same.

"Since Mike has taken over he's done a superb job. There's going to be a big crowd and a great atmosphere and, hopefully, Newport will finish the job.

"There were plenty of words (before the Workington game), but the big one was motivation. That's the important one to any manager at any level.

League Two bottom
Bottom three in League Two

"But the lads were superb, they responded to me, they responded to my words. I looked to them to be bold and brave. Be positive and make things happen and Mike will be doing all that now.

"I'm quietly confident they will do it. And I will be there."

Also amongst what looks likely to be a record crowd for a football game at Rodney Parade will be one of the men on the pitch in that massive Workington clash, former defender John Relish who also went on to manage Newport.

"I think it is actually the biggest game in the club's history, they've just got to get that result," said Relish.

"To be honest I am getting a bit nervous. Obviously I remember the game against Workington which we had to win.

"I thought County were down and out when they were 11 points adrift and that's why I say there are parallels.

Newport County
Despite a 2-1 defeat at Carlisle last time out, Newport's Football League status remains in their own hands

"In 1977 Colin Addison came in and he was just like a breath of fresh air and Michael Flynn's done something similar this time around. That rings bells with me from all those years ago."

And Relish too has every faith in Flynn this weekend, after all, he has known the 36-year-old County caretaker boss a rather long time.

"I remember Michael when he was 14 when he came to the club's academy, which I was running then," he added.

"He stood out then. He was a chirpy, confident lad. He had real character and a bounce about him.

"You knew he was going to make a career as a footballer and even then it was not a stretch to think he would go on and be a coach and manager. He just wanted to know everything.

"I'm delighted, he's a first class lad and Newport through and through."

There have been plenty of kind words said and written about Flynn ahead of this epic encounter and, if The Great Escape II is achieved this weekend, one more will surely be added to him at his hometown club.

And that word is legend.

Top Stories