The Gwent County League club that brings together Michael Flynn and Tony Pulis

Mendalgief Road – the home of Pill YMCA. (Will Cheshire)

Two managers born and bred in Pill will face off in the FA Cup Fourth Round on Tuesday night. This is the story of the Newport football club that brings Mike Flynn and Tony Pulis together. 

In May 2018, Gwent County League sides Newport YMCA and Pill AFC merged to become Pill YMCA.

Newport YMCA were founded in 1973, with Pill AFC coming into existence nine years later in 1982.

The two sides were separated by just under a mile, and were able to lay claim to having two well-known figures in football represent them in years gone by.

A famous win against Leicester City in the Third Round rewarded Flynn’s Newport County with a trip to the Riverside to face Middlesbrough.

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A dramatic Matty Dolan equaliser in stoppage time, cancelling out Daniel Ayala’s opener, meant the Exiles would once again host an established English league side at Rodney Parade.

The occasion will be all the more special for the managers, Mike Flynn and Tony Pulis, who have the common interest in Pill YMCA.

In his playing days, Boro manager Pulis represented Newport YMCA while Flynn, who has performed miracles in his time with Newport, was a member of the Pill AFC side between the ages of seven and 12.

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Pulis’ former side were in the Gwent County League Division One at the time of the merger, while Pill were one tier below in Division Two.

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Pill YMCA currently sit fifth in Division One, and drew their last league game 1-1 with 11th-placed Blaenavon Blues.

The new club have played at the home of Newport YMCA, Mendalgief Road, since their formation in 2018.

After hanging up his playing boots in 1992, Pulis has gone on to have a storied career in football management.

The 61-year-old guided Stoke City to the Premier League in the 2007/08 season, and has managed top-level teams that include Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and now Middlesbrough.

Pill YMCA in action against Lliswerry. (Will Cheshire)

Flynn’s route into management was less straightforward. After holding the position of player-manager with Welsh League side Undy Athletic in 2015, the 38-year-old was thrusted in as caretaker manager of then-struggling Newport County.

Since keeping the Exiles up on the last day of the season, the club has gone from strength-to-strength, and up until a few weeks ago were sitting in the play-off places in League Two.

Newport YMCA finished 12th in Division One last season, while Pill secured a sixth-placed finish in Division Two.

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Former Gillingham midfielder Flynn will be hoping that his Exiles can add Boro to their list of FA Cup victims, after knocking out Leeds United last season and Leicester at the beginning of January.

Whatever the result on Tuesday night, Pulis and Flynn will be able to reflect on what they’ve both been able to achieve in the game since their humble beginnings in the working class parish of Pillgwenlly.

 

(Featured image: Will Cheshire)

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