Welsh wonders

As part of Sky Sports' Sky Bet League Two spotlight, Chris Burton catches up with Newport County midfielder Mike Flynn.

Mike Flynn: Loving life at Newport, but also planning for the future

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The 2013/14 campaign is now past the halfway stage, with divisions beginning to take shape.

Here at Sky Sports we will look to take you to the very heart of the Sky Bet Football League over the coming months, with our Spotlight features intended to give you a greater insight into the clubs and players that keep us on the edge of our seats.

We hope to bring you the views and thoughts of a representative from each of the 72 teams over the course of the season, with those involved asked to give their take on the division they compete in, the club that pays their wages and those we should all be keeping an eye on.

Newport's Mike Flynn is next into the hot-seat, with the Exiles midfielder taking time out to discuss home-town pride and learning the coaching ropes with Chris Burton.


Best side faced: Rochdale, by a country mile. When we played them up there they beat us 3-0 and the football they played was outstanding. We weren't very good that day, but they were outstanding.

Player of the Year so far: I would say there are probably three in the reckoning at the minute: Harry Worley, who has been very good at centre-back, Adam Chapman is a very good midfielder with great ability on the ball, and Robbie Willmott, who has played in numerous positions - he's played right wing-back, left wing-back, left of a three up front, centre midfield, so he's really done a job for the team.

Best character in the dressing room: I always have a laugh with Adam Chapman. He's a character and a good lad. Danny Crow has got good banter. That is one of the reasons that we've had success, that everyone gets on and takes the banter in the right way.

The gaffer: He knows exactly what he wants to do. He wants to play at first, but you don't want to take any unnecessary risks. He's clear in what he wants, he wants the team to work our hardest and give our all on a Saturday and make sure that we come out on top nine times out of ten.

As a home-town boy, how proud are you to be representing Newport County in the Football League?

It's brilliant, to be honest. Obviously coming in the twilight of my career, I'm 33 now, to come back and help to get them back in the Football League at the first attempt was something that I will remember for a long time.

Do you feel as though the club have acquitted themselves well, you're sat just outside the top seven at present?

Yeah. It's a tough league but we have carried some momentum through with us from last season. The gaffer has added a couple of good players as well, so hopefully we can go on a bit of a run now and try and push to get into the play-offs for the end of the season.

You need a bit of a surge don't you - no win in five and an eight-point gap to the play-offs?

We have got two games in hand as well, but sometimes you would rather have the points on the board. We have got a big game on Friday night against Fleetwood. If we win that, I think that puts us right back in the mix.

Winning the games against those in and around you is half the job isn't it, especially at this stage of the season?

Definitely. They are six-pointers. Fleetwood are a good team. They lost last night, they had a tough game against Chesterfield in the Johnstone's Paint, so they will be looking to bounce back and get their promotion push back on track.

Are they the blueprint in some ways for clubs like yourselves - an ambitious side that wins promotion into the League, consolidates and then looks to push on?

Yeah. Fleetwood are in a great financial situation, they have got a good backer. I actually nearly went there at the start of last season under Micky Mellon. Things could have been different, I actually could have been lining up against Newport on Friday. But I'm obviously glad that I play for Newport and hopefully I'm in with a shout of playing against Fleetwood.

Consolidation would be no bad thing this season would it when you consider that the club was out of the Football League for 25 years?

Exactly. Because of how well we've done, people get carried away and they get frustrated when we lose a game, but we've come a long way. You have to remember that, not last season but the season before, we nearly got relegated in the Conference so for us to go and get promoted the following year just shows what a good job Justin Edinburgh has done at Newport.

It's great for Welsh football as well isn't it to have another Football League representative?

It is. With Cardiff going up into the Premier League, Swansea won the Carling Cup, and I was hoping that Wrexham were going to go up this year but they have had a slow start. Hopefully now they can turn it around and make another positive for Welsh football.

Speaking of Wrexham, that play-off final last year was something special wasn't it and I imagine that ranks right up there with what you've achieved in football?

Yeah. To be honest, I didn't enjoy the game. I didn't enjoy it at all. I didn't really care how I played as long as we won. I know a lot of players say that but it was really personal for me. I didn't realise until afterwards how much I didn't enjoy it. I enjoyed it afterwards, don't get me wrong, but I didn't enjoy the day at all if I'm being honest. I think, which is unlike me, I was uptight and I was different - maybe because it was so personal.

Justin Edinburgh: Has earned his shot at life in the Football League

Having made the step up, and having seen plenty of Leagues One and Two in your time, do you feel the standard is improving year on year?

I think it is. I have had a good career -the Championship, League One and League Two. I think it is improving. You're not getting the teams like Darlington a few years ago who are having 10-15 points deducted and making it easy for teams to stay up. You're not getting that anymore, so I think the Financial Fair Play is working and it's making sure that teams stick to their budgets and making the leagues more competitive.

It's raising the standard from the bottom up isn't it, which I take it made it even easier for you to step down and link up with Newport again? It wasn't that much of a step back was it?

It wasn't really. I had offers to stay in the League but I thought, my little girl has started high school - she lives in Newport - and everything just seemed to add up. When I spoke to the gaffer about his plans and his ideas, that was it. He helped to make my mind up, so that was it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sticking with the gaffer, he's gone about his coaching career in the right way hasn't he - learning his trade in non-league and earning his chance at this level?

It's an opportunity he really deserves with the record that he's got. People seem to forget that he did a very good job at Rushden as well. I think it is only a matter of time before somebody really interesting comes and approaches the club for his services. He has done it the right way and has a very good record.

Teams are starting to look down the divisions a bit more now aren't they, so for people like Justin this could be a real springboard?

Of course it can. He's enthusiastic, he knows the game, he's played at the highest level. He knows what the English game is all about so I really don't see why someone won't go and approach him. He's got brilliant man-management skills as well, so I think he's got a really good career ahead of him managerially.

And that's something you're looking towards as well as you work towards you're A licence...

Yeah, I'm doing my A licence at the moment. I've just seen that Garry Monk has been appointed coach at Swansea - he's on the A licence - we've got Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell and then you have got a few lads who I used to play with at Barry as well. There is a right mix of characters and experiences which you can share. There are a couple of people who are working in Portugal at Porto and Benfica, and their knowledge is helpful to pick things up. Being on the course with that calibre of people can only help to improve myself.

It must be great to have a meeting of minds like that, players who have played at all different levels and can all offer a different take on things?

It is. Even fine things that you don't necessarily agree with but you see where they are coming from and their thoughts and philosophy on coaching and the way the game should be played is really interesting. I didn't get to play in the Prem in my career, so working alongside and doing presentations with Sol, Patrick or the people like Pep and Joao from Portugal, that can only improve me. The level of coaches at the Welsh FA, it's really beneficial to myself because they really do explain everything and show you how coaching needs to be taken seriously.

How long will it be before that becomes your main focus, you're only 33 so you've got a few years left in you yet haven't you?

I'll play as long as I can. I will play football as long as I can because I love the game and I still love it. You are a long time retired. I think that actually gives me more chance to do more coaching, maybe at the academy or the reserves. That enables me to develop my learning as a coach as well as playing. I'm in no rush to hang up my boots and hopefully somebody at Newport thinks that I have definitely got more to offer on the pitch.