NEWPORT midfielder Darren Powell is not nicknamed ‘The Old Warhorse’ for nothing by his team-mates after he broke the club’s appearance record at St George’s Park on Saturday.

The Isle of Wight-born midfielder earned his landmark 572nd appearance as a second-half substitute against Sydenhams Wessex Division 1 leaders Amesbury Town, to rapturous applause from the crowd.

He overtook the previous appearance record, set by Newport legend Jeff Austin in 1988.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Jeff Austin, who held Newport’s previous appearance record of 571 games, with only 26 as a substitute.  Photo: Pete Ranger

Jeff was regarded as one of the finest left-footed players the club ever had, in a career with Port spanning almost 20 years.

Darren, of Castle Street, Ryde, said of his record, which included 493 starts: “I didn’t really think too much about it on Saturday, but looking at it now, it is a big honour and privilege to have got this far with the club.”

The 37 year old, in behaviour support at Ryde Academy, began his playing career at Binstead & COB in the Island League and progressed to play for Brading Town in the Hampshire League and on to Cowes Sports, joining under boss, Derek Ohren in 2002.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Darren Powell's proudest moment in a Newport shirt, captaining them to Isle of Wight Gold Cup success in 2015 against his former club, Cowes Sports, and scoring twice in the final. Pictured holding the cup with former Newport boss, Steve Brougham, who now manages East Cowes Vics.  FILE 

But when Hugh Lewis took over as manager of Newport in 2006, Darren “jumped ship” from the Yachtsmen’s ranks to sign for them — making his Southern League debut in a 2-1 home win over Brook House, on August 19.

Darren had to wait until December 9 that year before he scored his first for Port — a consolation goal in a 2-1 loss at home to Chesham United.

“I started as right wing-back, but moved to midfield with Newport. I really noticed the step up in the quality of the football I was experiencing and we were a very fit squad, training twice a week,” said Darren.

“I was a box-to-box player and it was always my goalscoring aim to hit double figures. That has become more and more difficult over the years, but I have scored in every season I’ve played.”

Isle of Wight County Press:

Darren Powell, who says he will weigh up whether or not to continue playing at the end of the season after he suffered heart problems in 2017.

During his Newport career, Darren has won the Isle of Wight Gold Cup five times and was a runner-up twice.

Darren also skippered the side to victory against Bemerton Heath Harlequins in the Russell Cotes Cup final in 2011 and in the Wessex League Cup final defeat to Team Solent in 2016.

But his most special memory and proudest moment in a Newport shirt was when he captained the side in the 2015 Isle of Wight Gold Cup final against Cowes Sports, beating them 4-2 and scoring twice.

He also represented the Isle of Wight in the Island Games.

Darren’s worst memory, which caused him to miss the 2017 Gold Cup final, happened on March 7 that year, when he collapsed with a heart problem during training at St George’s.

He was airlifted to the Queen Alexander Hospital, Portsmouth, where he spent ten days in recovery.

Thanks to the medication he takes, Darren continues to play, mainly as a substitute, but has no plans yet to hang up his boots.

“I feel part of the furniture at Newport. I am not the kind of person to jump ship during a season, so I will weight things up at the end of this one,” said Darren.

“But my late dad always said to me to play as long as I can and at as a high a standard as I can.

“I’d like to think I’ve been a good role model for the younger players at the club.”