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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 38

8 May 2013

The first time I began to take notice of Newport County, they had a young striker by the name of John Aldridge pulling up trees in the old Third Division of The Football League.

Since then, the fans have been to hell and back, losing their League status in 1988, going bust in 1989, and then reforming in the lower echelons of non-league football a year later.

It's been a crazy journey for all concerned, but I'm delighted to welcome them back to football at this level next season. I think the Welshmen will be a cracking addition to what promises to be a really competitive division.

To get through the Conference Play-Offs against Grimsby Town and Wrexham wasn't easy, but they showed that they're made of strong stuff. I feel gutted for my mate Steve Burr at Kidderminster Harriers, who finished second by some distance, but having been through the Play-Offs myself with Morecambe, I won't be begrudging Newport their place. They deserve it.

Managing a team to promotion to The Football League is a very, very special feeling. I was fortunate to do it twice, with Macclesfield Town and Morecambe, and those days will live me forever.

For Justin Edinburgh, it announces his arrival as a manager, too. He's worked hard to establish a strong reputation in non-league football, and will be so excited at the prospect of being a League boss now. I wish him and Newport County all the best. I expect them to do pretty well.

Bradford City and Northampton Town are two clubs that are doing rather well too, having booked their respective places in the npower League 2 Play-Off Final.

I admire what Aidy Boothroyd has done with the Cobblers, because last season they struggled badly. For him to turn around their fortunes so quickly, proves that he's back in business as a manager. He's been impressive.

Northampton will give it a right old go at Wembley, but for me Bradford City are strong favourites to go up.

Okay, they didn't play brilliantly against Swansea City in the Capital One Cup Final, but the Wembley experience will have done wonders for their confidence - and that's why I fancy them so much. You can be sure they won't want or expect to go there a second time and lose again.

The biggest test for Phil Parkinson was to get the players' minds back on the bread and butter of League football, and to be fair, once their heads came back down from the clouds the squad knuckled down and responded.

I'll be looking ahead to that match in more detail in next week's blog.

At the other end I was extremely sad to read about Aldershot Town's financial plight, just days after losing their League status. To be placed in administration with a £1million in debt is an awful predicament.

I remember in 2009/10 when I took Morecambe to the Play-Offs, Aldershot were in there too under Kevin Dillon, and at that time you felt like they were a club who were going places.

All the talk around the league was that Aldershot Town had plenty of cash, spending big money on players' wages, and we all looked at them with slight envy.

Unfortunately, as we have seen time and again with football clubs, when that spending doesn't end up bringing the success it was expected to, they have a very quick and painful fall.

I do wonder how they get themselves into such dire straits but with mismanagement and an over-eager owner that spends more than he can afford, major problems can, and do occur. It happens too often really.

I hope the club can get out of their current mess but £1million is a huge amount of money to owe when you're a non-league club. If anyone in the lower leagues had that kind of cash they'd be jumping through hoops.

They need somebody to come in and save them, and they need it soon.

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