FA Cup First Round Week: “Might We Run Into Rupert The Bear In Shortwood?”

Some phrases, it seems, stick with you for life. In the August 1990 edition of When Saturday Comes, Newport County supporter Phil Tanner posed the above question in relation to the death of his football club and its rebirth in the Hellenic League, travelling around the southern and western outposts of the non-league game, playing clubs of which he and the vast majority of his fellow supporters had never heard. Phil probably didn’t run into Rupert during his club’s spell playing football at that level – quite asides from any other considerations, the aforementioned fictional ursine one lived in Nutwood rather than Shortwood – but almost a quarter of a century on from that mischievous question being posed  one of the club’s that Newport played that season will make national headlines. The Wood, as Shortwood United is nicknamed, will emerge from the forest that is the nether regions of the non-league pyramid to make its debut in the First Round of the FA Cup, live on the television, against Port Vale. Shortwood United ply their trade in Division One South & West of the Southern Football League, a level of football as far removed from the Football League as a club playing in the Conference South is from the Premier League. Founded in 1900, the club joined the Gloucestershire County League in 1975, getting promoted into the Hellenic League...

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