Pádraig Amond dreaming of another cup shock with Newport
Sunny south Wales coast is the latest port of call for the experienced Irish striker
Newport County’s Pádraig Amond in action during the FA Cup third round tie against Leeds United at Rodney Parade. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
“Yeah, I’ve thought about that and I don’t know how it keeps happening,” says Pádraig Amond with a hint of bemusement after being asked how it is that he seems to have played in more British seaside towns these past few years than a Victorian variety act. “It’s not by design.”
Amond, who will line out for Newport County against Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday’s teatime FA game, started his career in the League of Ireland then unexpectedly embarked on a brief stint in Portugal.
Since his first English club, though, Accrington Stanley, it’s been ports and promenades all the way for the 29-year-old who had spells at the Mariners (Grimsby Town) and Shrimps (Morecambe) not to mention the, er, Monkey Hangers (Hartlepool United) before eventually landing on the southern Welsh coast.
“Blackpool were interested too at one stage,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t even like beaches. On holidays I’m definitely a pool person. But Bray Wanderers are next, I think.”
His head was turned towards Newport in slightly odd circumstances. He and the club’s current boss, Mike Flynn, then still a player coach, were substitutes for opposing sides last season when the Hartlepool and Newport met.
“I was at Hartlepool,” recalls the striker. “We were warming up and he asked me how come I wasn’t playing. I told him I didn’t know; it was Dave Jones’s first game in charge and nobody had said a word but I had played almost every game up until then.
“And he said that when they had seen the team sheet and that I wasn’t on it they were all buzzing. He said that if he was the manager, I’d be playing every week. That sort of stuck in my head.”
Within weeks Flynn had put in charge. The club had been well adrift at the foot of the table at the time of the Hartlepool game but over the 12 games towards the end of the campaign, he managed to engineer a remarkable revival. Beating Notts County on the last day kept the Welsh club up and, as luck would have it, sent Hartlepool down.
When Flynn went inquiring after the Irishman over the summer, Amond was more than happy to make the move.
“I’m playing and scoring goals,” says for the former Sligo and Shamrock Rovers player in a way that seems suggest there is little enough else he could think of asking for.
Those goals have helped to keep the club stay firmly in the hunt for promotion – they are a point off the play-off places and just three off the last of the automatic places – so Tuesday’s League Two game against Lincoln might be seen as more important in ways that the visit of Tottenham.
But after Newport beat Leeds in the last round of the cup, “this game has just captured the imagination of the town,” he says.
“We had nearly 6,000 there last Friday for the win over Crawley and there’ll be 10,000 there for Spurs. If we can keep even a few hundred more coming back it would be great.
“And the game’s a free shot for us. Nobody thought we had a chance against Leeds and some expect Spurs to put four or five past us. If we spent this week just looking at them and all that we’ll be up against we’d probably be a goal down going out there. But we believe we can win.
“The pitch is going to be a bit of a leveller [Rodney Parade is also home to the Dragons and Newport rugby clubs], the dressing rooms won’t be quite as big as at Wembley. Nothing will be quite what they’re used to and we have to jump on that and make everything as interesting as possible.
“And shocks happen. Senegal beating France, Ireland and Italy, the most famous FA Cup one maybe is Wrexham and Arsenal, the Mickey Thomas free kick; these are things that you look at and hope you can be part of something too that people will be talking about years later.