I am delighted that you have been successful in setting up The Friends of Newport Rugby Trust, I realise that a committee of dedicated and competent fellow supporters has helped you in bringing it to being but your first and positive actions caused it. You can take immense credit for that.
I am also delighted that such a famous group of former players have endorsed your achievement. I met two of them as an overawed schoolboy, Malcolm Thomas and Ken Jones and will never forget a talk that Malcolm Thomas gave in the hall at Bassaleg School following his Lions tour in 1950. Of course times were far different then and it was definitely Mr Thomas and Mr Jones.
My father first took me to Rodney Parade when I was 12, he had then judged me to be old enough to watch without fidgeting. He never formed a strong allegiance to any club except Bedwas and so it was a case of going by motorbike to see whichever side he thought would be the best game and they were sometimes against the English or Scottish sides and, sometimes at Cardiff or Pontypool. I have a feeling that the first one at Newport was against Cheltenham but I can't be sure. It was in 1948.
In 1950 things changed, out of the blue I was selected to play for Newport Schoolboys and I will never forget the thrill of walking into Rodney Parade with my kit in an old satchel on a glorious Thursday afternoon albeit at a very lowly level. Again different times, after a very low key training runabout off I went to the bus station to get the bus to Bedwas only to be told by the conductor that my bus pass was paid for from Bassaleg to Bedwas and not Newport. Oh well I was young, fit, and the walk to Bassaleg wasn't all that far. From that day the die was cast. I was black&amber through and through and what a year to be introduced to the club, I saw most of the home games for two seasons from a prime spot at the front of what is now the Argus terrace, I can't remember if it was called that then.
A career took me away from Wales and I only saw Newport play on my high days and holidays for the next 40 years. Most of my working life was spent outside of the UK and I had long periods with little information other than by letter with friends and relatives. Oh for a good website then.
In 1992 I was back in the UK for good and I have seen almost every home game and a fair number away since then and I still enjoy every minute, even the season when we went down five times to Caerphilly.
There have been many players past and present that I could elect as a favourite player, all of them deserve it and most are household names in the worldwide rugby community. Any Newport supporter could reel out a list of them as long as your arm. But my heart gives the names of two players one forward and one back that to me gave and epitomizes the effort required week in week out to guarantee that the Newport team spirit is strong.
The forward is Gareth Taylor
The back Dale Burn.
I have seen a number of games against touring sides but for me the one I will always remember is our taking the cup against Neath in 2001. Not so much for the game itself although Dales match saving tackle on Shane Williams was memorable, but for the unbelievable scenes of joy on the return to Rodney Parade after the match. I have never seen such obvious delight displayed by the management, players, and supporters in unison.
To me supporting Newport Rugby is a mix where the ground, colours, team, and fellow supporters conspire to provide three or four hours of entertainment when you are with friends, some sadly gone but still there in your memories of days at Rodney Parade. I can honestly say that I have never had a day when I regretted attending, even during the really low periods there was always a rueful smile and a never mind, next time Bill from someone.