Meet the Argentinian Newport County fan who loves Wales
Most football fans have aspirations of visiting the Camp Nou, Old Trafford or the San Siro. 20-year-old Argentinian Juan Fernández is different – he dreams of visiting Rodney Parade, the home of League Two’s Newport County.
Juan, who is from the city of Jesús María in the Province of Córdoba, Argentina, runs the unofficial Newport County Argentina Twitter account and has gathered a cult following from home-based Exiles fans.
“It’s a kind of funny story how I became a County fan. In 2013, I started a “campaign mode” on the computer game FIFA and discovered Newport on there. I became fond of them and then started to follow all of their results. I remember the first one I saw was a 4-1 win over Accrington Stanley when Newport returned to the Football League.”
The young Argentine delved into the history of the club and was fascinated by its turbulent and tumultuous past. This is when he decided to try to spread the word from his home in South America.
“I saw that many Premier League and Championship clubs had their respective Twitter accounts in Spanish, so I decided to open the Newport one to inform and enable people from my country and other Spanish-speaking countries a chance to discover the club.
“There are already over 500 followers of the account. There are followers from lots of different countries including Colombia, Brazil and Peru. I am proud that more people are joining the community and discovering Newport.”
Although Juan is nearly 7,000 miles away in South America, he feels part of the County community and gets to watch some games online.
“The last match I saw was against Bradford in October 2021 which was played at Rodney Parade. Unfortunately, it was a 0-0 draw. I don’t get to watch all of the games due to the time differences and other commitments, but I would love to watch every match. My favourite players are Kevin Ellison, Matty Dolan and Nick Townsend.”
Fans of the County have embraced Juan, although he has not had any official contact with the club thus far.
“I have several followers who are from Wales and Newport and I have had conversations with some of them,” he says. “I have not yet interacted with the club, but I would love to.”
Juan’s ambition is to one day visit Newport and Rodney Parade to see a live game.
“One of my dreams is to get to see a County game! I would have loved to have visited Somerton Park too!” (County’s legendary old ground was demolished in 1993)
This dream was achieved by Gordon Grafft, a Californian-based County fan who runs the now official Newport County US Fanclub from his home in San Francisco. He infamously made the 10,000-mile round trip from California to witness the Exiles’ “Great Escape” in 2017.
A last-gasp 89th minute volley by defender Mark O’Brien sealed a 2-1 victory over Notts County, keeping Newport in the Football League and thus becoming a deity of the County faithful.
Acquiring a Newport strip has proved something of a challenge for Juan, but he has spectacularly overcome this by creating his own Newport County-Argentina mash-up jersey.
“This is another curious story, as I haven’t been able to get a Newport kit,” he says. “I felt that I had to wear something in my day-to-day life that would identify me with the County, so I decided to design and make one of my own with colours meaningful to Newport and Argentina.”
The strip includes the famous black and amber colours of Newport County, with a light blue line on each stripe representing the colours of La Albiceleste (The White and Sky Blues), the colours of the Argentina flag and football team.
The national flags of both Wales and Argentina appear together next to an amended County badge, the Welsh dragon and the Argentine Sol de Mayo (Sun of May) complementing each other. The Spanish motto “Grandes Hasta Argentina” adorns the back of the shirt, translating roughly as “Big up to Argentina.”
Unsurprisingly, Juan’s design has proved popular.
“When I showed it on Twitter it was well received by the fans and also here in Argentina,” he says. “They have already asked me to design more.”
In his home country, Juan is a keen follower of Córdoba’s Club Atlético Belgrano, a team in the Argentine second division.
Working in digital communications, Juan keeps Belgrano’s 218k Instagram followers updated about the day-to-day happenings at the club.
Córdoban native and Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles is one of the most famous players to have pulled on their jersey.
Juan hopes that his Newport County Argentina account will continue to grow, and he plans to keep on improving his knowledge of both Newport and Wales.
He also wants to widen his knowledge of the many connections that Argentina has with Wales.
“I know a little about the history of Wales, but I would like to learn the language and implement it on my account.
“I want to learn more about its history and traditions. I know a little about the Welsh links with Patagonia. For example, in the province of Chubut the Welsh language is spoken – particularly in the city of Puerto Madryn and in Gaiman.”
For now, the young Argentine just hopes that the County finish the season on a high.
“Mike Flynn’s departure was a very strong emotional blow because of all he achieved with Newport,” he says. “It was sad to think that he was no longer going to manage Newport.”
However, he is optimistic for the future following the appointment of former Cardiff City coach and Newport-born James Rowberry as manager.
“He is a manager who gives me a lot of confidence, I have faith that he can do very well, hopefully he can promote us to League One.”
He may be on the other side of the planet, but Juan Fernández’s optimism shines through.
He hopes that his Twitter account will one day be officially recognised by the County and that he will witness his team achieve promotion when the Sol de Mayo arrives in Newport.
Follow Juan’s Argentinian Newport County Twitter account HERE
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