Fans favourite Shane Sutton leaves AFC Telford United with memories and experiences – now he’s returning ‘home’ to help fire Newtown up the table

Newtown supporters were gutted when their fans favourite and man mountain centre half left for AFC Telford United three and a half years ago.

Now he has swapped Shropshire to return ‘home’ to Latham Park and he’s held in the same high regard by the fans he is leaving to the ones he is re-joining.

After the highs of FA Trophy success and lows of frustrating injuries he has in eyes on firing Newtown back up the Cymru Premier League table, after the club’s disappointing first few months of the season.

Sutton’s return to Mid Wales is down to work commitments, but his return to Robins red is on hold with the league currently suspended.

Despite the current lockdown, he is relishing the chance to turn out again for the club he served so well during a seven year stay.

“I’m just buzzing to be back really. We had some great times at the club before and the squad is really strong at the moment,” insisted the defender.

“Things haven’t gone to plan this season, but we want to turn that around and I want to come in and get us out of the bottom two and fire us up the table.

“Going back would have been nice and now it has come about.

“We did so well before because everyone put in a massive shift and we were all together, and we will do that again.

“There is still seven games left before the league splits, so I just want to try and get us as high up the table as possible.”

After becoming a club legend at Newtown between 2010 and 2017, Sutton switched to the National League North with the Bucks.

Signed by Rob Smith before the manager left the club, Sutton became a mainstay under Rob Edwards at the New Bucks Head and was quickly given the captain’s armband.

He continued to excel under the stewardship of current boss Gavin Cowan, and became a firm fans favourite during his time in Shropshire.

He enjoyed success in Cowan’s first season, with the club taking on all comers to reach the FA Trophy semi-final.

The side also narrowly missed out on the play offs that season, and Sutton admitted he will always be grateful for the way the Bucks fans took to him from the off.

He added: “I’ve had a few really great years there, it is a fantastic football club.

“We had some brilliant times there and I was so grateful that the fans took to me the way they did.

“We had the FA Trophy success, the game at Solihull Moors was mad and then to play against Leyton Orient there and then in front of 4,500 at the New Bucks Head was amazing.

“I went to Telford for that exact reason, to play in games like that. The only other time I’ve played in games like that was in Europe, so I feel I achieved success there.

“I scored a few goals and just really enjoyed my time there.

“And I’ve played with some top players there. I watched Coventry against Stoke the other day and three lads playing were at Telford in the last few years.”

Picture – Mike Sheridan/Ultrapress

Sutton suffered a few injuries during his time at the Bucks, and suffered a knock before the league was cut short due to Coronavirus.

“The only frustrating thing was the injuries I picked up and the timing at which I picked them up,” added Sutton.

“That was the only thing, I enjoyed the rest of the experience there.”

Sutton now comes back to Wales having gained three and a half years experience of playing in the English non-league system.

He hopes that experience will benefit the Robins this season.

“I’ve learned a hell of a lot playing there, I really have,” added the 31-year-old.

“It is a tough league and I’ve learned things I didn’t in the Welsh league.

“I’d say to any young player go and play in that league if you get the chance at some stage in your career, because it’ll help you as a player.

“Hopefully I can use all that experience now to help Newtown.”

Sutton is now in the best position to compare the standard of football in Wales to that across the border in the National League.

And the experienced defender believes there is only really one considerable difference between the two leagues.

He also believes a number of managers operating in the Cymru Premier could do a very good job at National League North level.

Telford after their FA Trophy victory at Solihull Moors – Mike Sheridan/Ultrapress

“The real difference is the intensity of it, playing Saturday and Tuesday,” added Sutton.

“You don’t really get that in Wales, but there are a lot of players in Wales that could go and play in that league.

“People look at the Welsh Premier and think because sides only get 200 odd fans then it isn’t very good, but there isn’t much of a difference.

“There are about 10 sides like Connah’s Quay, a few like TNS and then the rest are like the rest of the Welsh League.

“And you’ve got managers like Andy Morrison, Colin Caton and the likes of Chris Hughes who could go and do a very good job at that level.”

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