Welsh Clubs Aiming to Live the FA Cup Dream

Can you feel it? No?


Then get down to Rodney Parade on Saturday and breathe in the magic of the FA Cup.


For the Welsh clubs, the grand old competition begins this weekend with the first round as both Newport County and Wrexham get involved.


County host Oldham Athletic and Wrexham are away at Mansfield Town in a 7.45pm kick-off.


Newport fans used to sharpen their tomahawks at this time of year, in readiness to become giant-killers by taking a scalp.


Oldham were once, briefly, in the top tier of English football, but these days have fallen down to the National League, so it will hardly be a shock if Newport dump them out.


Even so, manager Graham Coughlin wants to rekindle some of that giant-slaying pedigree that the club used to enjoy under former boss Mike Flynn.


“We all want to bring those days back,” said Coughlan.

“Cup runs are great, the FA Cup is excellent, I remember watching them on the television. There were some great nights and some great occasions here at Rodney Parade.

“We want to have our slice of history, our little slice of the FA Cup.


“I have to be realistic and understand Newport probably in those days were a lot stronger on the field and probably off the field than we are these days.


“But my ambition doesn’t change, the players’ ambitions don’t change and the fans’ ambition doesn’t change. We all want to bring those days back.”


Newport are currently struggling for momentum in League Two, whereas Wrexham are flying and came through an unbeaten October to rise to third in the table.


But Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson does not consider the FA Cup an unwelcome distraction and believes a Cup run would actually benefit their league form.


Last season, Wrexham beat Coventry City before losing out in a replay to Sheffield United who were heading towards the Premier League at the time.


“”We utilised those games to test ourselves against better opposition,” said Parkinson.


“But they were also big occasions and how we responded in those situations, I felt it helped us.


“This season is slightly different because we’ve had some big occasions already – 22,000 at Bradford and Notts County another sell out and the lads have acquitted themselves well.


“There’s a slightly different feel to the Mansfield one, but to get to one of those bigger teams in the third round, you obviously have to overcome these tough games at the start like we did last year.”


In the Championship, Cardiff City can stay in the play-off places if they win away at Stoke City on Saturday.


Swansea City are in 13th place and will look to make it back-to-back wins by beating Sunderland who visit the Swansea.com Stadium.


The Bluebirds are bidding for a third successive victory and manager Erol Bulut says: “I see in my players what they can really give and I think they can give more than what they’ve shown until now.


“I hope I can push from them 15/20% more. It is up to every player to push themselves.”


Wales captain Aaron Ramsey may still be out injured for the Bluebirds, but the midfielder has still been busy.

Ramsey has been named as a Save a Life Cymru ambassador in support of his club doctor, who lost his daughter to cardiac arrest.


The former Arsenal star has been inspired by his team doctor, Len Nokes, who lost his 25-year-old daughter to cardiac arrest in 2017.


Ramsey wants to increase public awareness of cardiac arrests and the number of people trained in CPR and defibrillation.


He says: “Save a Life Cymru does important work to raise awareness of cardiac arrest within the community.


“It is something I am passionate about and I’m proud to be named as one of their ambassadors. I’ve been very close to Len Nokes, my team doctor, since I was a teenager. We’re all one big family, and I wanted to do something that helps raise awareness and support Len.