Continuing on from my theme of Welsh cities best ever XI. I now look at Newport, the third largest city in Wales and devise my best ever XI to have come from the City. I have gone with a 4-5-1 formation, so to make the best with the players that are available. Please bear in mind that this is my opinion and I welcome any additions you may have.
GK – Roger Freestone – A Swansea legend, who is second on their all-time appearance record list, with 563 appearances for the club. He began his career with his hometown club before the bright lights of London and Chelsea came calling in 1987. He did not have the best of times during his 4 years stay at the club. Unable to gain a regular first-time place as faced competition with Eddie Niedzwiecki, Kevin Hitchcock and Dave Beasant and ultimately moved to Swansea in 1991 where he would stay until 2004, when he would finish his career with Newport County. He made only 1 appearance for his country against Brazil in 2000.
DF – Chris Gunter – Wales’ current player of the year with 83 international caps to his name, only 9 behind record-holder Neville Southall. Gunter seems the likeliest person to become Wales’ first centurion as he is only 28 and seems to have the right-back position nailed down. He began his career with Cardiff City, making his debut as a 17-year-old in 2006. His performances were enough for him to earn a move to Tottenham Hotspur in January 2008, who paid roughly around £3 million for his services. But this move did not pan out as he struggled to become a regular in the side and the club accepted a bid from Nottingham Forest for his services in 2009 where he would go to make over 150 appearances for the club before making a move to Reading in 2012. He has made over 200 appearances for the Royals, being named captain on occasions.
DF – James Collins – A centre-half who also began his career with Cardiff City. Having made his debut in 2000 and going on to make 86 appearances before moving to West Ham along with Danny Gabbidon for a combined fee of £3.5 million in 2005. His time with the Hammers was marred by injury and he would eventually move to Aston Villa in 2009. In his three seasons there, he would go on to make over 100 appearances for the club before making a move back to West Ham, where he has currently made over 130 appearances in his second spell at the club. Collins has currently made 51 appearances for Wales and you feel that he would have had significantly more were it not for his persistent injuries which have marred parts of his career. Has been in the news lately after deciding to retire from international football bar a defensive crisis.
DF – Derrick Sullivan – A defender who played in almost every position during his time with Cardiff City. Where he would go on to make over 300 appearances for the Bluebirds from 1947 to 1961 and would then move on to make appearances for Exeter City, Newport County and Hereford United until he retired in 1964. Sullivan was capped 17 times for Wales and played in the 1958 World Cup where his performances drew praise from the likes of Pele who commented on his excellent play and was described as having the tournament of his life. He, unfortunately, passed away in 1983 aged 53.
DF – Mark Aizlewood – The current Carmarthen Town manager began his career with Newport in 1975 before embarking on a career that allowed him to make over five hundred appearances in the Football League, playing for clubs such as Charlton Athletic, Leeds United, Bradford City, Bristol City and Cardiff. His footballing career would last 25 years when he retired in 2000 with Cwmbran Town. He would also go on to make 39 appearances for his country. His post-football life has had its controversies with Aizlewood’s well-publicised alcohol problems, which almost made him take his own life. Whilst he has also had to deal with legal issues such as being charged with counts of conspiracy to commit false representation.
MF – Roy Clarke – A winger who began his career with Cardiff City in 1942 as a 17-year old when he signed amateur forms and had his first taste of first-team football when he was in the side that lost 10-1 to Dynamo Moscow, who was the first Soviet team to tour the West when they did so in 1945. Clarke stayed with Cardiff until 1947 having just helped the Bluebirds to promotion from Division Three (South) in 1946/47 when Man City paid £12,000 for his services. He would remain at the club for 11 years, making over 350 appearances for the Blues. He was a part of the 1958 FA Cup Winning side along with fellow Welshman Roy Paul. When Clarke retired in 1959 after a season with Stockport County, he had made 22 appearances for Wales. He remained in the North West of England until his death in 2006 but not before being inducted into the Manchester City Hall of Fame for having formed the club’s Former Players’ Association and running the Manchester City social club for nearly 25 years.
MF – Peter Nicholas – Who is Wales’ eighth most capped player with 73, began his career with Crystal Palace. He joined the club in 1976 as a 16-year old centre-half but would be moulded into a defensive midfielder. He helped the Eagles win the 1978-79 Second Division title and would make over 150 appearances for the club before Arsenal came calling for his services in 1981, paying £500,000 for the pleasure. His time at Arsenal was marred by injuries, making only 80 appearances in three seasons with the club. Nicholas would later return to Palace but this time they were not as successful as his first spell and he would move on to Luton Town, Aberdeen, Chelsea and Watford where he retired in 1993. He would win another Second Division winner’s medal with Chelsea in 1988-89. Nicholas would enjoy some success as a manager winning the Welsh Premier League with Barry Town in 2000-01, he would later repeat this feat with Llanelli in 2007-08 along with the Welsh League Cup when they defeated Rhyl. In between these roles, he was also manager of Newport County from 2002 to 2004.
MF – Steve Lowndes – Who signed for his hometown team in 1977 aged 17, his performances in two spells for the club has earned him an induction into the Newport County Hall of Fame in 2015. He made over 200 appearances for the club in his first spell from 1977 to 1983. In this time, he was a part of the squad that earnt promotion from the Football League Fourth Division in 1980 along with winning the Welsh Cup, which allowed them to play in the European Cup Winners Cup the following season. This proved to a memorable foray in the competition as Lowndes helped the team reached the quarter-final stage. His performances drew the attention of Millwall and he was sold for a fee of £50,000. He would also go on to play for Barnsley and Hereford United before finishing his career with the Exiles, making over 150 appearances in a 4-year spell, retiring in 1996. He would win 10 caps for his country. He currently runs his own physio practice in Gwent, whilst he is also Academy Director of Coaching for Cirencester Football Academy.
MF – Billy Lucas – Who was born only a couple of streets from Newport’s old ground at Somerton Park. Was a talented inside right who was born in 1918, he began his football career with Treharris as a teenager. Soon after his talents were spotted by Wolverhampton Wanderers and he signed for them in 1936. Lucas struggled to get into the first team and after a season signed for Swindon Town for whom he had made close to 200 appearances in a spell that was interrupted by the Second World War. He would stay at the club until 1948 when Swansea Town made a bid of £11,000 for his services and he would remain at the Swans until 1953 after making over 200 appearances and winning a Welsh Cup in 1950. He later moved to Newport in 1953 where he became their player-manager, making almost 100 appearances for the club before retiring from playing in 1958, he would win 7 caps for Wales. He would be the manager of the club until 1961 when he resigned due to falling support. He would be back the next year following the sacking of Bobby Evans and would remain in charge until 1967 when he took over the manager role at Swansea Town, a role which lasted until 1969. He would take charge of Newport one last time in 1970 until 1974. Lucas passed away in 1998 at the age of 80.
MF – Nigel Vaughan – A central midfielder who began his career with Newport County in 1976 at the age of 17. He was a team-mate of Steve Lowndes during one of their most successful times in the early 1980’s and would make over 200 appearances for the Exiles. His form earned him a move to Cardiff in 1983 and would go on to make almost 150 appearances for the Bluebirds in a four-season spell at the club. He would move to Wolverhampton Wanderers where he would help the team gain promotion from the Fourth and Third Division during his 3-year spell there. He would finish his career with Hereford United and retire in 1992 at the age of 33. He would make 10 appearances for his country. After retiring, Vaughan took up a part-time coaching role with Wolves and stayed there for eight years, coaching their youth teams and coaching players such as Lee Naylor and Joleon Lescott. In 2001 he would take up a similar coaching position with Shrewsbury Town, helping to develop the careers of players such as Andre Gray, Tom Bradshaw, Joe Hart and Dave Edwards. Vaughan moved to America in 2010 and is currently coaching in Houston, Texas.
FW – Cuthbert (Charlie) Phillips – Born in 1910 began his football career at Ebbw Vale, whilst working as a boilerman. His form soon attracted the attention of Wolverhampton Wanderers and their manager Major Frank Buckley and he signed for the club 1929. He would chip in with 18 goals to help the club win the Second Division Championship in 1931/32. He would make over 200 appearances for the club, scoring 65 goals before he was sold to Aston Villa in 1936 for £9,000. He would win another Second Division title in 1937/38 before moving to another club in the area, Birmingham City, where he only stayed for another season before moving to Chelmsford City. Phillips would win 13 caps for his country, scoring 5 goals. After retiring from football, he would become a pub landlord in Wolverhampton and then in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He died 1969 at the age of 59.
The man whom I would choose to manage this team would be Tony Pulis, who has been linked with the Wales national role recently.
Let me know what you think of this XI and if you can think of others you feel that should have been mentioned, please let me know.
Feature Picture Credit: http://www.castlewales.com