Newtown AFC reached their last Welsh Cup final in 1897 and 118 years on from that 2-0 defeat by Wrexham FC, manager Chris Hughes is confident they have what it takes to lift the trophy for the first time since 1895.
Despite the daunting prospect of taking on treble-chasing cup holders The New Saints FC in the 2 May final, the former Prestatyn Town FC man has faith. "We know it's going to be a tough game," explained Hughes to UEFA.com. "But we've played them four times this year and we've given them four tough games. I think sometimes teams are beaten before they even kick off against TNS, but there's nothing to fear from our point of view. We relish playing them."
Hughes took charge in November 2013, a few months after lifting the cup with Prestatyn, so knows how special it is to get his hands on the trophy. "It is a fantastic competition," he said. "I've got fantastic memories of the Welsh Cup as a child and as a coach, and I hope we can create another one. There's a great buzz around the club since we reached the final. It's something the whole club is looking forward to and it will be a great occasion. But if we can win and qualify for Europe, then it would be huge."
For a team like Newtown, success would mean even more due to the close-knit community which surrounds the mid-Wales club, who were established in 1875. "There are four or five players who live just a few minutes from the ground. There aren't many clubs that can say that, and I think that's a really big thing," added Hughes. "You hear people talk about clubs that are a real family club or a real community club, but here at Newtown it really is true. There's a really good bond and a great team spirit. We are all in it together."
One thing Newtown will have on their side is home advantage at Latham Park, as the final is being played at the ground of one of the finalists for the first time since Swansea City AFC beat Kidderminster Harriers FC 5-0 in 1989. "Hopefully this game can be the catalyst for the club moving forward both on and off the field," Hughes said. "We want this to be the start of something big for this football club." The New Saints have been warned.
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