WIMBLEDON upset the odds to win the FA Cup, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards was the talk of the Winter Olympics and there were four Welsh clubs playing in the English Football League.

The year in question is 1988. Yes, it really was way back then that Swansea City, Cardiff City, Wrexham and Newport County last featured together in the English pyramid.

There were very contrasting fortunes for the quartet at the end of the 1987/88 season, one in which they all plied their trade in the old Fourth Division.

Cardiff went up automatically after finishing second, Swansea gained promotion via the first ever play-offs, Wrexham came 11th and a soon-to-be wound-up Newport suffered relegation.

Fast forward 33 years and there is a distinct possibility that Wales could have four clubs in the English system once again, with Wrexham vying for a place in the National League play-offs.

Not only that, but the Swans are in with a shout of a return to the Premier League following their relegation to the Championship in 2018.

Paul Cooper’s men face Barnsley in the play-offs, with Monday’s first leg at Oakwell coming before a limited number of Swans fans return to the Liberty Stadium next Saturday for the reverse fixture.

And it isn’t just Swansea bidding for a trip to Wembley in early June, as Mike Flynn’s Newport go for promotion via the play-offs in League Two.

They have the honour of hosting the first major sporting event in Wales to welcome back supporters – again, a limited number – since March 2020 when they meet Forest Green Rovers at Rodney Parade on Tuesday.

The second leg of that semi-final will then take place on Sunday, May 23.

Reacting to the Welsh Government’s decision to make his side’s home game one of nine pilot events for the safe return of fans to stadiums, Flynn said: “It’s what we have all wanted for a long time now.

“The important thing is that the coronavirus levels have gone right down and it’s another step towards normality.

“Fans are everything to this club and it will be great to see them in the stands, even if it is in reduced numbers.

“It’s almost a chance for us to say thank you because a lot of them knew that they probably wouldn’t be getting to see many games this season and still parted with their hard-earned money to support the club. For me, that sort of backing never goes unnoticed.”

He added: “It will give us a boost and I know they will get right behind us, hopefully we will put in a good performance to send them home happy.

“It’d be nice if we can get all the way to Wembley so that a few more can go.”


Meanwhile, Swans defender Connor Roberts said: “It will be nice for all my mates and the fans that support me and the team.

“It’s a little bit more normalisation. It’s obviously not going to be exactly the same as it was.

“But it should be good and hopefully we can make them smile and they can go away happy and obviously that would mean a positive outcome over the two legs.

“We will go there and give everything we can and hopefully it’s good enough.

“It’s a big opportunity for us. The two games this season were very different to what Monday night is going to be like.

“It wasn’t pretty as every fan under the sun will admit, but hopefully we can play some nice stuff and create some opportunities for ourselves.”

Wrexham currently sit ninth in the National League, just a point off the final play-off place with four games left.

They travel to Boreham Wood today, before hosting Notts County and King’s Lynn Town, and then going to Dagenham and Redbridge.

While not included on the government’s list of pilot events, Wrexham say they are “accelerating the work required” to apply for fans to attend a home play-off match, should they finish fifth or higher.

A statement read: “It has been confirmed that the club can request permission to have fans in attendance at any home play-off game. The club are now accelerating the work required to make this application.

“The earliest date fans could therefore be admitted to the Racecourse would be June 5 or 6 but, of course, this will not become a reality unless the club finishes fifth or above in the National League.

“Any suggestion the club has been in any way ‘lacklustre’ is unfortunate, as we have done everything possible in this area to date and will continue to do so.”