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Newport Cricket Club to host County Championship match for the first time in 54 years

Glamorgan will host Gloucestershire at the club’s Spytty Park Ground, which has been established as an impressive International Sports Village boasting world-class facilities including a state-of-the-art four-lane £70,000 outdoor net facility

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When Newport Cricket Club host a Specsavers County Championship match for the first time in 54 years next week it will be the culmination of a journey that is testament to the club’s character and the will of the cricket-loving public in the region.

Glamorgan will host Gloucestershire at the club’s Spytty Park Ground, which has been established as an impressive International Sports Village boasting world-class facilities including a state-of-the-art four-lane £70,000 outdoor net facility, an indoor cricket centre and a Velodrome amongst others.

It is a world away from where the club was in 1990 when the club was forced to play its final game at Rodney Parade, which had been its home for the previous 97 years.

As club chairman Mike Knight admits, if you had told any of the club member then that they would be in such a position to host a county championship match “they would have laughed at you”.

“Everyone was devastated when were told by Newport Athletic, who controlled the ground, that we had to leave,” said Knight, who has been associated with the club since he was a nine-year-old junior member.

“We played our final home game in 1990 and then had to play all our games away for the next two years.”

The club eventually discovered some land on the outskirts of Newport and it was then they launched what Knight describes as “the impossible dream”.

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Knight said the club left Rodney Parade without any compensation and when they began their venture they set up a £30,000 fundraising appeal with support from The Sports Council of Wales, the then Newport Borough Council and the generosity of others.

Those early dreams have blossomed into the facility the club now calls home and will be further realised when they host Glamorgan for the first time since the county club drew with Warwickshire in a rain-affected game at the old ground in 1965.

Since the staging agreement was signed during the winter, club volunteers have been hard at work preparing the ground for the historic game.

“Hospitality has been sold out for the first two days”, Knight said. “And the ground will look in great shape when everything is in place”.

Jack Russell, the former Gloucestershire and England wicketkeeper, and now a renowned artist will be exhibiting his paintings.

Russell will also be taking part in Q and A session with Glamorgan coach Matthew Maynard and the ex-England fast bowler Devon Malcolm - all three having played at Newport’s former ground at Rodney Parade.

“All we need now is fine weather,” added Knight.

“If everything goes well, we would be confident of staging more games in the future - either four-day championship games or one-day fixtures”.

After the problems they encountered when they left Rodney Parade, and all the hard work and effort put in by club members during the past 30 years they certainly deserve success.

Words by Edward Bevan courtesy of the ECB Reporters Network

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