Sports event

Fans return to a sporting event in Wales for the first time this year

Hundreds of fans have returned to the first sporting event held in front of a crowd in Wales since the start of the pandemic.

About 900 Newport County fans returned to Rodney Parade on Tuesday night for the first time in 14 months to cheer on their team in their play-off against Forest Green Rovers.

It was the first sports match staged in front of a crowd in Wales as part of a series of events spearheaded by the Welsh government.

You can read more about the other events here.

Among the hundreds of county fans in downtown for the game was Terry Norman, 71, of Newport. Like many others, he went to the Dodger, a pub popular with Exiles fans, to relax and catch up with friends before the big game.

“I don’t drink but I’m going to see my friends now that I haven’t seen in 14 months,” Terry said.

“I can’t wait to get there and see them.”

The doors to Rodney Parade opened shortly after 6 p.m., but many fans, like Terry, chose to soak up the downtown atmosphere.

Outside the Dodger, black and amber jerseys, scarves, and even face masks stood out against the overcast sky above.

For these fans, Tuesday’s game meant more than just football.

“I had the Covid in December, I was very sick,” Terry said. “It was hard, not just for me but for everyone.”

He added that he felt “very privileged” to be one of the 900 fans able to attend the match.

“I have had a subscription for over 30 years and have followed them for 51 years,” he said.

Peter Board was also at the Dodger, having a drink with his family before heading to Rodney Parade.

“I feel privileged,” said Peter, explaining what it was like to be one of the 900 people who could get a ticket to the game.

Not all season ticket holders, Peter and his family have attended a county game since last March – the same month Wales and the UK entered lockdowns for the first time .

“We’ve watched all the games, but it’s not quite the same as being there,” said Peter.

He said the most important thing he missed while watching football was the sense of community among the fans.

“Watching it on TV just isn’t the same,” Peter said.

Granddaughter Megan added, “I don’t think it’s going to be quite the same now, but it’s always nice to go!”

The family said that despite the coronavirus restrictions being put in place during the game, the most important thing was to be back and cheer on their team.

“I am still optimistic!” Peter said, discussing what he hoped the outcome of the match would be.

Season ticket holders Martyn Prewett, Wayne Bolwell, Robert Muir and his son Rohan Muir were also seated outside the Dogger.

“I think we all think it’s great,” said Robert, discussing what it was like to be back to support Newport County with friends.

“It’s been a long time coming. We missed the social aspect and missed meeting people.”

At around 7:30 p.m., with about 30 minutes before its doors closed, the majority of fans started to walk into the lines that were in place around Rodney Parade.

Waving black and amber flags and scarves and catching up with friends, some of whom had not seen in over a year, the mood among fans was jubilant.

You can see some of the photos from the event below.

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