Crawley Town F.C – Expected eleven.

On Saturday, John Yems will look to field an eleven at Prenton Park that is capable of returning to West Sussex with a point or three. As is often the case with the lower leagues, due to a lack of great media coverage, you may not have heard of the players that Yems will select. However, I spoke to a supporter of the Reds to get an insight into who he believes will play.

Gk. Glenn Morris – Often called ‘The Cat’, he’s the best goalkeeper in League Two. Without him, I think we would have been relegated to the Conference by now.

Rb. David Sesay – Right back that has recently returned to the team, was named Young Player of the Year in 2019.

Cb. Joe McNerney – Has looked solid since he returned a few games ago, needs to put in a great performance to keep Vaughan out though.

Cb. George Francomb – Club captain who has scored a couple of spectacular goals this season. Utility player that can play in defence and midfield.

Cb. Jordan Tunnicliffe – Signed from AFC Fylde in 2019, rock solid centre back who I feel is our best defender.

Lb. Nick Tsaroulla – Up-and-coming left back who has looked very promising and scored the best goal of the FA Cup so far this season against Leeds.

Cm. Jake Hesketh – On-loan Southampton midfielder has shown his class that got him close to the Saints team at times. However, he has been injured for much of the campaign.

Cm. Jake Hessenthaler – Son of current Dover manager Andy, again he is a solid, if not spectacular, player who does the job.

Cm. Jordan Maguire Drew – Even though my mate who supports Leyton Orient (his parent club) says he has one good game in 15, he has looked the best out of the January recruits. Grew up in Crawley too.

Ss. Tom Nichols – Top scorer this season (apart from the departed Max Watters), this former Exeter star has excelled in the role as support striker. However, he’s not as effective when played up front on his own.

St. Ashley Nadesan- Fan favourite and local lad who works hard and scored a few important goals this season, such as the second goal in the win vs Leeds.

My thoughts – The visitors will be difficult to play against, I believe they will tend to sit back as Rovers will look to attack them on any given occasion. It’ll be interesting to see how the game pans out, if we score early then their defence will be forced to open, meaning we’ll probably be able to score a few more. However, if we don’t then anything could be possible. I look forward to seeing if there is much reasoning behind Glenn Morris being labelled as the ‘cat’, let’s hope James Vaughan is fit.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Crawley Town F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Crawley Town F.C

This weekend, Tranmere will host Crawley Town at Prenton Park in League Two action. Rovers go into this game on great form and will look to add another home victory to the one which they played out in midweek as they beat Newport County. Crawley, on the other hand, come into this game with a very mixed spirit as they have lost three and won two of their last five. However, The Reds will certainly be able to pose a threat to the hosts. With this in mind, I placed questions towards a supporter of the visitors to get his thoughts about the Devils’ on and off pitch positions going into the game whilst also getting his pre-match predictions and thoughts. 

How long have you been a fan of Crawley and how did you first hear about the club?

I first heard about them, funnily enough, when I was around 8 and my mum suggested my dad and I go and watch the team after driving past the ground once whilst we were on a shopping trip. We went and soon afterwards, in what was the first time I’d ever been to a football game (which was a 2-1 loss to Aldershot) and I have been keeping an eye on how the team has done ever since. However, I was a Manchester United fan when I was younger. I have however been attending matches on a much more regular basis since 2017-18, and as a result have been a big fan of the club ever since.

What moments stand out during your time supporting The Reds?

I’d say since I started following the club the greatest highs were the FA Cup run in 2010-11, when we became the first non-league club in 16 years to reach the fifth round of the competition and came really close to taking Man United to a replay. Other highs I’ve experienced include beating Norwich and Stoke in the League Cup last season, the atmosphere after we won the penalty shootout against the Potters was special. Beating Leeds would have been up there too if spectators were allowed at the time.

There have, of course, been times when it wasn’t so great. I wasn’t old enough to remember the serious financial issues the club experienced in the mid to late 2000s my time supporting the club I’d say the worst period was definitely 2014-16 when we were relegated to League 2 and then had a dreadful first campaign back mainly as a result of signing journeymen and loanees on the cheap as well as poor managers. Thankfully, the club have made more sensible signings since and we have made progress in the last year and a half.

Random fact about Crawley Town?

Crawley are one of only two current Football League clubs to have never played a game at either the old or new Wembley (the other is Accrington Stanley).

What were your expectations going into the season and have they changed much now the campaign’s drawing to a close?

I feel the season has definitely had clear highs, such as the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced when watching the 6-5 win vs Torquay as well as the way we beat Leeds quite easily in the cup. As for the league, it was going reasonably well until a COVID 19 outbreak caused a couple of games to be postponed and we haven’t been quite the same since. However, I am not ruling out a late playoff charge if we can be a bit more consistent and improve our away form (which has been dreadful for years now).

John Yems is gaffer at the People’s Pension Stadium and has been since December 2019, thoughts on him?

Yems has been in charge since December 2019 and this is his second spell in charge, having previously served as joint caretaker manager in 2006. Before rejoining us, he was football operations manager at Bournemouth from 2012-2018 and has also had roles with clubs such as Fulham, Newcastle United, Gillingham and Exeter. If I am to be honest, he isn’t a brilliant manager but he has definitely been the best one we have had in recent years, which isn’t difficult as we have had some truly dreadful ones since getting promoted to League One. He is obviously excellent at being able to find hidden gems, such as Max Watters, and has put together what I feel is our best squad since we were relegated back to League 2 in 2015. However he has occasionally made questionable decisions in regards to team selection and his media handling skills have sometimes left a lot to be desired.

Who owns Crawley Town Football Club and what are your thoughts on them?

The club has been owned by Turkish businessman Ziya Eren since 2016 and I think he, as well as technical director Erdem Konyar, have been good. They have been good at communicating with the supporters, supporting the club financially throughout the pandemic and have really worked well with the community aspect of it (which was rewarded when we won EFL community club of the year for South East England). My only criticisms are that we do have a tendency to sell our best players and all of the managerial appointments before John Yems were very poor (which probably explained why 2020 was the first calendar year since 2011 where we didn’t change managers at least once). However, I feel with their support, as well as being able to put together a good team, there is no reason we can’t be back in League One within the next three years.

This weekend, The Reds will travel to Prenton Park and they will come with a game plan in mind to combat the quality that they will be up against. Who are your danger men and how do you see the encounter panning out?

I’d say probably our best players are goalkeeper Glenn Morris (who I think is the best in League 2 and without him we would have come close to going down a few seasons) and attacker Tom Nichols (who signed on a free in the summer and who I met at my local pub a few months ago) as when he is played as a support striker he is very effective. I also have a soft spot for Ashley Nadesan as he comes from the same area as me and played for one of my local non-league clubs Horley Town before he moved into league football, he has been in decent form lately. However, due to our poor away record I think Tranmere will win comfortably 3-1. Of course, I hope I’m proved wrong.

How do you think the visiting starting eleven will look on the weekend?

What is your opinion on Tranmere, the club as a whole?

I feel that Tranmere is a club that should really be in a higher division than they currently are due to the large fanbase they have (considering Liverpool and Everton are just over the other side of the Mersey) but I do think they will take one of the three automatic slots at the end of the season. They have a very solid manager in ex-Bolton and Rochdale boss Keith Hill and I feel if last season hadn’t been called off early they could have stayed up, as they were putting together a good run of form before the COVID situation got very serious. 

I also had a very positive experience at Prenton Park myself as I went up there to watch Chichester (who have links to my old university) play them in the FA Cup. It was fantastic for everyone at that club even though they went on to lose the game 5-1, as getting far enough to play a club as big as Tranmere was an incredible achievement (and didn’t concede for the first 60 minutes too). Also, I’ve got to say I enjoyed the fact that the prices of the cider at the pub next to the ground were a lot cheaper than what I normally see back at home which was really nice indeed!

What are your thoughts on The Reds’ winter transfer business? That period of recruitment is, more often than not, pivotal to a club’s season in any division.

Unfortunately our best striker, Max Watters, was sold to Cardiff City. However we were offered over £1m for him which for a club our size is a lot of money, especially during the difficult times we are in with the financial effects of the pandemic. As for players brought in, we signed midfielders Jordan Maguire-Drew and Josh Wright from Leyton Orient, forward James Tilley from Grimsby and Swiss-Italian striker Davide Rodari from non-league Hastings. I’d say Maguire-Drew has looked the most promising so far, although Tilley recently scored an important winner vs Colchester.

One final question, which adds on to the recruitment process seen at the West Sussex club. Mark Wright was recruited and that sparked a lot of controversy and media attention. What are your thoughts on that?

If the aim was to get more people interested in Crawley, I feel the signing would have worked better if spectators were allowed into games as it could have helped fill the ground and generate more money from ticket sales and matchday income. I am of the opinion it was done as a publicity stunt, as the one game he played vs Harrogate he certainly didn’t look up to the standard of League Two football and was taken off at half time. I have also had a few of my pals really tease me for us signing him too, and think we’re an embarrassing club just because of it!

‘I think the signing of Mark Wright was done as a publicity stunt. It’s one that has seemed to backfire as he doesn’t look set for League Two football and my pals think we’re an embarrassing club just because of it!’

I would like to thank @stephen_dimmock for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This league encounter should be exciting and one to certainly look forward to. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Newport County A.F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Newport County 

On Tuesday night, Tranmere will host Newport County at Prenton Park in League Two action. Rovers going into this game are in a great run of form. However, their home form doesn’t reflect this as they have lost and drew against Stevenage and Oldham respectively. Thus, they will have a tough task in turning this round and Micheal Flynn’s side will pose questions and threats of their own. With this in mind, I placed questions towards a supporter of the visitors to get his thoughts about the Exiles’ on and off pitch positions going into the game whilst also getting his pre-match predictions and thoughts. 

How long have you been a fan of Newport and how did you first come across them?

I’d say I’ve supported the club for about 6 years now, and supported them ever since I got into football. I was born in Newport so I thought I might as well support my local.

What are your highs and lows as a supporter of the Exiles?

Best experiences have to be the cup runs and that play off campaign, as for the worst experiences it would probably have to be the season where we nearly went down the club was in such a mess that year.

Random fact about the club?

That’s a good question haha, it’s been 40 years since our European Cup Winners Cup Quarter Final match against German side FC Carl Zeiss Jena.

What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? What were your expectations going into the start of the season and what are they now?

Even though recent form hasn’t been the best the campaign has been good so far before the season i expected us to be down in the bottom half so to be in the top 7 still is great for the club.

Micheal Flynn has been Newport’s gaffer since 2017, thoughts on him?

He’s an absolute legend, gone from the great escape to cup runs to turning us into a side with promotion ambitions. We would probably be down in the national league if it wasn’t for him.

Who are the club’s owners and what are your thoughts on them?

We are a supporter owned club with our chairman being Gavin Foxall. Personally, I like this structure because it feels nice to know the fans are in charge and it’s not all down to money like some clubs. I’ll name Salford.

The visitors on Tuesday night will travel in the belief that they have the quality to win. What Exile players will set both sides apart?

That’s a tough one, I would say Nicky Maynard for sure I think every EFL fan knows how dangerous he can be. Also, Josh Sheehan is another one to watch easily, one of the best players in this league on his day.

If I push you to give a score prediction?

I’ll be honest anything can happen on the day so I’ve got no idea haha, I want to be positive and say a Newport win. However, I can see a draw so let’s go with 2-2.

What is your opinion on Tranmere? The club as a whole.

I like Tranmere as a club, to be honest. They have really good fans and deserve to be in league one. However, I hated them after that play off final haha.

What was Newport’s winter recruitment like? These signings are often vital as they make a great difference to where a club can finish at the end of the season.

Well, our winter was all over the place as we lost key players such as Twine and Cooper who returned to their parent clubs. On a positive note, we did bring in some good replacements such as players like Nicky Maynard, Don Telford, Luke Gambin, Anthony Hartigan, Jake Scrimshaw and Priestley Farquharson. We also added a lot of experience to the side and hopefully it’s enough to give us the last push and finish in the top 7. All the new signings have settled in well, Maynard and Telford scoring already.

Given that Tranmere are the club that will host this midweek encounter, a return to Prenton Park is on the cards for Joss Labadie and Kevin Ellison. Thoughts on them and their effect on Micheal Flynn’s side?

I like both of them to be honest, Kev has only been here since the summer but already has made an impact with his experience and work off the field. As for Joss, he’s been an amazing servant to the club and always gives 100%.

  • Joss Labadie played for Rovers for two years, between 2010 and 2012. He has played against the Whites before, a time that everyone will remember being the 2019 play off final. He will, this Tuesday night, face his former side again.

I would like to thank @MillAFC_ for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This game is one in which sees the two finalists of the 2019 League Two play offs come head to head. Thus, it should be exciting and one to certainly look forward to. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe and happy,

Ethan Hoijord 

‘Meeting the opposition’ Leyton Orient F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Leyton Orient F.C

On Saturday, Tranmere will travel to London as they face Leyton Orient. This league encounter will see a team sitting comfortably mid table play against a side who are aiming for promotion. However, this game may prove to be somewhat of a banana skin for Keith Hill’s men as Rovers lost when they faced Embleton’s men last October. With that in mind, I placed questions towards a supporter of the hosts Elliott Christy to find out about the O’s on and off pitch positions going into the game whilst also getting his pre-match predictions and thoughts.

How long have you been an Orient fan? How did you first come across the club?

I have supported them all of my life, went to my first game when I wasn’t even a year old and since then it’s all I’ve ever known. In truth, I had no choice of who to support as my dad and grandad are both Orient fans and we’ve all been going home and away all over the country all our lives.

It seems like you’ve watched a fair few games then, which means that you must’ve seen some very high and low points. What are some of your highlights as an O’s fan?

There have been plenty of ups and downs over the years. The worst time being between 2014 and 2017 when we were under incredibly awful ownership in Francesco Beccheti, who nearly ran us into administration and took us from League One to the National League. I’d have to say the greatest high was winning the National League under Justin Edinburgh, that was a great season with some great away days, which made it all that bit sadder when he passed away that summer.

Random fact about the club?

We are the only club to win every game in a cup competition without winning it (Carabao cup this season).

What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? What were they going into the season and what are they now?

It’s been a very up and down season, everyone came into the campaign optimistic for a playoff spot and we looked on course to claim one until the new year where our form took a drastic change for the worse and now we look out of the race.

Ross Embleton was appointed gaffer last year, thoughts on him?

Ross is a very likeable character, he loves the club but recent performances and his unwillingness to change the formation has put a doubt in many fans’ minds whether he is the right man to take us forward and a loss this weekend could put a lot of pressure on him.

Nigel Travis and Kent Teague are the owners of Orient, thoughts on them?

They’re both fantastic owners, who always look to take us to the next step and I wouldn’t be surprised to see us being back to a stable League One club in the next couple of years.

The O’s have the quality to pose a fair few questions for the visiting defence this weekend, who are the players to keep an eye out for?

Our main danger men are Nick Freeman, carries the ball so well and when he sets off there are not many players who can tackle him, Danny Johnson always a threat in front of goal and Lawrence Vigoroux, in my opinion the best goalkeeper in the league.

If I push you to give a score prediction?

A 1-1 draw, with us conceding first and then getting 1 back.

So you think Tranmere have the quality to get a point at the Breyer Group Stadium on Saturday, what are your thoughts on the club as a whole?

Tranmere are a good club, big clubs in this division take good numbers away, very similar to ourselves in that aspect, would be good to see us both back in League One soon like a couple of years back.

In the Winter transfer window, Embleton signed four players. Although they are yet to win a game with you, what are your thoughts on them?

January’s transfer window came at a good time for us and the players we brought in definitely have strengthened the squad especially Adam Thompson and Nick Freeman, However none of our new signings have yet to win a game with us.

Danny Johnson played for Orient’s counterparts in 2014, a year which saw Tranmere being relegated to the National League for the first time. Is he a decent forward for your club?

Danny Johnson has been unreal for us this season, obviously Tranmere were on the receiving end of one of his many goals, however after an injury in December set him back a month, he’s still getting back into the groove of things, so he’s been a bit rusty in recent weeks.

  • Danny Johnson played for Tranmere in 2014. He now plays for Leyton Orient and scored in the reverse fixture in October. Rovers defence will be kept on their toes if he is to play this weekend.

I would like to thank Elliott for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This game is one in which both sets of supporters and neutrals should be excited for. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading, 

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord 

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Carlisle United F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Carlisle United F.C

On Tuesday night, Tranmere travel to Cumbria to face Carlisle United. This league encounter will see two promotion hopefuls come head to head, thus it may prove pivotal when looking at the table at the end of the season. With that in mind, I placed questions towards a supporter of the hosts @Ben_Pitkeathly2 to find out about the Brunton Park club’s on and off pitch positions going into the game whilst also getting his pre-match predictions and thoughts.

How long have you been a Carlisle United supporter? How did you first come across the club?

I moved from Aberdeen, Scotland, to Carlisle in 2007 and was taken to my first game not long after by my dad and his friend. At that moment in time, we were pushing for promotion to the Championship.

Football’s full of ups and downs, what are some of your highlights as a fan of the Cumbrians? 

Beating Brentford 1-0 in the 2011 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final has to be the proudest, we were thrashed by Southampton at the same stage the year before. Also, we held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the League Cup .. we were soon knocked out on penalties. Regardless, that was a proud moment.

Random fact about the club?

Our East Stand runs longer than the actual pitch on one side as we were looking to shift the ground a few yards north, but it was never completed so a section of the stand overlooks the WaterWorks End rather than the pitch. Try not to buy tickets there!

What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now?

Our good form and league position has been a fantastic surprise especially after the disastrous campaign we had last season. Before our long COVID break I probably would’ve said that we’d run away with the league as we looked unstoppable. However, we’ve now lost our intensity so I expect us to reach the play-offs minimum even though we’ll have to play catch up which will pose a question in itself.

Chris Beech has been gaffer since 2019, thoughts on him?

He’s a brilliant manager who speaks with honesty and passion which we’ve not seen for a long time. He has really brought the club and the fans together, everyone is now working in the same direction. His transfer nous and ability to improve players stand out amongst other traits.

What are your thoughts on the owners of the club, who are they?

The three custodians Andrew Jenkins, Steve Pattison and John Nixon with Jenkins as the major shareholder. The United Trust, hold a percentage of the ownership as well, they’re a supporters group. Despite facing a lot of criticism over the years, they’ve been fantastic during the pandemic mainly due to our director of football David Holsworth who has had a very good influence on the club. However, we do owe Phillip Day a considerable fund as he helped us get through a financially difficult spell recently. We are mainly financed by the contractual clauses on Jarrard Branthwaite (on loan at Blackburn from Everton), Dean Henderson (Manchester United) and Sam Cosgrove’s (Birmingham City) moves and performances.

Carlisle will certainly pose a few questions to Tranmere’s back line on Tuesday night, what players should we be looking out for?

Omari Patrick for his searing pace and ability, Josh Kayode’s long throws and physiciallity and Jon Mellish hasn’t scored recently so he’s due to put the ball in the back of the net sooner rather than later. 

Score prediction?

1-1

Although we need to get back on a winning run, we aren’t quite on our best level yet going into this one.

What are your thoughts on Tranmere?

They’re a good club standing against the bigger clubs across the River Mersey. The fans travel in their numbers and make a fantastic atmosphere, it’s admirable really as it would probably be much easier to support a Liverpool or Everton. The Palios’ seem clever and diplomatic, that’s always good for the long term.

There’s normally a boost for a side searching for promotion after they have recruited well in the January transfer window, what are your thoughts on the winter recruitment?

We normally lose our best players during a promotion push so it was nice, this time round, that this didn’t happen. We kept our squad together as well as making three solid additions: Offrande Zanzala, the returning Ethan Walker and Morgan Feeney. Unfortunately, we’ve not been enamoured with the signings as they’ve struggled to make an impact so far. Also, Feeney has a major injury thus he hasn’t been able to play.

  • ‘Omari Patrick will be one to watch for his searing pace and great ability’

I would like to thank Ben for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This game is one in which both sets of supporters and neutrals should be excited for. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

Who is the man that you may have seen on social media platforms showcasing his love for the sport and fantastic sunsets?

If you are a Tranmere fan, who has Twitter and other social media platforms, you may have come across an Indonesian man named Simon. His pictures range from ones of beautiful Asian sunsets and of the place in which he lives in where there seems to be a lot of luxury. Thinking about it, he deserves it all given that Tranmere’s future may have been kickstarted by his contacts .. friends in high places. He is just like you and me, a football fan. Thus, just exactly, what has he done? I spoke to him to find that out.

‘Hello Ethan. I’m just an ordinary football fan, like you are. I enjoy travelling which has meant I have been to Liverpool a couple of times and on one occasion I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Palios by chance. To put this long story short, we became good friends over many discussions about business related subjects and the great sport of football. He told me that he was the owner of a local club called Tranmere Rovers, a club which I would soon mention to my friends in Jakarta. The friends that I had the pleasure of introducing Tranmere to are the owners of the Santini Group. Thus, as many people know, this started a business move as they became more and more interested and they soon invested’.  

The Santini Group, using a description of them that can be seen on the company’s website is ‘a renewed incarnation of Gemala Group, an established holding company that successfully brought together the management skills of a remarkable Indonesian family’. Their business spans industries, including automotive parts, infrastructure, natural resources, property development and services. Their involvement with Tranmere Rovers started in September 2019.

Simon, after introducing his friends to the club took a step back to simply just be a fan. He has no complaints doing this as he loves the stadium, the fans and certainly a good drink in the tent. 

‘I’m back as a fan now, I still have the great bonus of keeping in contact with the Palios’. I love being at Prenton Park, I love being in the tent outside the stadium. Thus, I certainly enjoy a drink of Gamma Ray. All the fans that I have met there are friendly to me, really welcoming’

To conclude our conversation, I asked him what he believed could be achieved in the future to see whether or not the Rovers faithful should be excited. 

‘I suppose the long term goal is to get the club promoted but to not stop there, I would love to see Tranmere play in the championship perhaps or maybe even higher. I know that the Santini Group and Mr Palios will do all they can to achieve this as they always discuss the vital topics. The Rovers faithful should be optimistic for a successful future’.  

  • Simon’s discussions with Mark Palios may have left Tranmere with a great base as the club aims to have a successful and fruitful future.

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Oxford United F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Oxford United F.C

Tranmere are one game away from Wembley, the home of England in which they have won promotion to the Football League and League One in recent times. This game will be played on Tuesday night against Karl Robinson’s Oxford United F.C. With that in mind, I placed questions towards Yellows supporter @will_oufc to find out about the Kassam Stadium club’s on and off pitch positions going into the game whilst getting his pre-match predictions. 

How long have you been an Oxford United fan? How did you first come across the club?

I started following Oxford around 2006/2007, back when we were playing the likes of Northwich Victoria and Kettering in the Conference. The position change in the football pyramid doesn’t lie, we have been on the up since then.

What is your proudest moment as a Oxford United supporter?

There have been many highs in my time supporting Oxford United: our record against our rivals Swindon, promotion from both the Conference and League Two and several giant killings in the FA cup. However, my proudest was beating Wycombe 3-0 to secure promotion to League One on the final day in 2016, which topped off a special season with a special squad.

Random fact about Oxford United?

We have only been called Oxford United since the 1960s, previous to that the club name was Headington United.

What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now in the final stages?

I think after the play-off heartbreak of last season starting the current campaign was always going to be tricky. However, with nine wins out of our last ten in the league putting us up to seventh, is whereabouts I expected us to finish. Hopefully we can go on one better than last season.

Former Charlton Athletic gaffer Karl Robinson has called the Kassam Stadium home since 2018, what are your thoughts on him?

There have been a couple of real low points under Karl, but I think overall it’s obvious to see the improvements we have made since he joined in March 2018. Not only the exciting football he has implemented into the team but he is also a great representative for the club off the pitch as he has mentioned the importance of mental health and stamping racism out of the game on multiple occasions. 

What are your thoughts on the owners of the club?

The current owners joined a similar time to Robinson, it’s fair to say it took them a fair bit of time to get the fans on board. However, with the backing they have shown to the manager over the past couple of years it does seem to be a real exciting time to be supporting Oxford

What players will pose the greatest threats to Tranmere on Tuesday?

It’s hard to tell how the team will line up for the Papa Johns Trophy but with a fair few players rested today against Wigan, I’m sure it’ll be a strong eleven. Top scorer Matty Taylor has 11 goals this season and will be a threat to any defence. As well as Josh Ruffels who has become a real attacking threat from left back with 6 goal contributions in 2021.

Your score prediction?

I expect a close tight game between both sides, it will be tough for us due to playing on Sunday then Tuesday. However, I do think the quality we have will put us through.

Oxford 2-1 Tranmere

What is your opinion on Tranmere?

I do think Tranmere are a league below to where they should be after an up and down last few years. They’re a well supported club and very hard done by to go down on PPG last season. With an experienced manager at that level in Keith Hill, I expect you to be back in league 1 soon.

What are your thoughts on the club’s January transfer window business?

If I’ve done my maths correct, Oxford brought in four new players in January. The main threats being Elliot Lee from Luton and Brandon Barker from Rangers, both on loan. Both players have already netted their first goals for the club and add real exciting attacking quality to what we already have going forwards.

  • Oxford United’s top scorer Matt Taylor will pose questions of the Tranmere defence if he is to play on Tuesday night.

I would like to thank Will for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This Papa Johns Trophy semi final is a game in which both sets of fans, including neutrals, should be excited for as both outfits have a good chance of victory. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord 

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Grimsby Town F.C

‘Meeting the opposition’ – Grimsby Town F.C

This Saturday sees Keith Hill’s Tranmere travel to Cleethorpes in the aim of getting the same result as the last time the two clubs met. That scoreline was 5-0, which seems unlikely to happen again but after Tuesday night they will certainly settle for a 1-0. With the upcoming game in mind, I placed questions towards Mariners supporter Aaron Rattray to find out about Grimsby’s on and off pitch positions going into the game whilst getting his pre-match predictions. 

How long have you been a Mariners fan? How did you first come across the club?

I’ve been a Grimsby supporter since I was two or three years old, my parents are lifelong fans so you could say it runs in the family!

What is your proudest moment as a Grimsby Town supporter?

In my lifetime we have not had much success! However, winning the 2016 National League play off final at Wembley against Forest Green Rovers is the highlight so far.

Random fact about Grimsby?

Our stadium, Blundell Park, is the lowest ground above sea level at just 2 metres.

What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now in the final stages?

This season has been a disaster, the board and Ian Holloway planned terribly for the season and assembled a cheap below par squad as the board held the opinion that the season would be null and void so my expectations is just to finish 22nd and stay up, however I do feel we will get relegated.

This season Grimsby have parted ways with former Premier League boss Ian Holloway and replaced him with someone who has experience at Blundell Park, Paul Hurst. What are your thoughts on this departure and what are your thoughts on the new manager, is he capable of securing a bright future for the Mariners?

Ian Holloway has assembled the worst squad seen in decades, having signed players he did not even know existed until they were recommended to him and he signed them solely on the word of a mate and never bothered to watch videos of them or see them play (Holloway said this himself) it quickly come obvious that he had very little knowledge of this level, he has left Paul Hurst a mountain to climb, Paul Hurst himself hinting on several occasions that this is the worst squad he has ever seen, hopefully Hurst can perform some magic and keep us up.

What are your thoughts on the owners of the club?

John Fenty is our majority shareholder and you will honestly struggle to find a fan who likes him after 18 years of mismanagement and doing absolutely everything on the cheap, (there are hundreds of examples I could give)- thankfully a takeover is in process, a consortium of Tom Shutes, Andrew Pettit and Jason Stockwood has agreed to buy the club and are just awaiting EFL approval so watch this space!

What players will pose the greatest threats to Tranmere this weekend?

Jay Matete, who is a young central midfielder from Fleetwood, looks a talented player. He has shown he is not afraid to carry the ball forward through the middle with his driving runs from midfield.

Your score prediction for Saturday?

Unfortunately, I see a Tranmere victory 2-0.

What is your opinion on Tranmere?

They’re clearly an established club who are probably playing at a lower level than they should be.

What were your thoughts following the last meeting between the two clubs? Tranmere won 5-0 and soon after appointed Keith Hill.

It was an absolutely disgraceful performance on the pitch, topped off with a similar disgraceful post-match interview with Ian Holloway who aggressively blamed the defeat on the journalist who was interviewing him! How a journalist can be blamed for a defeat I have no idea!

What are your thoughts on Hurst’s first January transfer window back at Cleethorpes? Former Tranmere bags man Stefan Payne signed a deal until the end of the season, what are your thoughts on him?

Well Paul Hurst made it clear when he got the job that he would have to sign a load of players, he has signed 11 players so far with one free agent still to come by all accounts. On paper the squad is certainly better than it was when Hurst took over but they now have the task of gelling and knitting together in double quick time, without a break. Stefan came off the bench and scored on his debut, so hopefully more goals to come!

  • Stefan Payne departed Tranmere for Grimsby in January 2021, where he met up with a manager that had coached him before. Payne scored on his debut after coming on as a substitute and will pose questions of his former club’s defence if he is to feature on Saturday. 

I would like to thank Aaron for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This league encounter should be interesting as Tranmere play with the aim of turning wrongs to rights following their midweek performance against a Paul Hurst side who will be difficult to break down. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord 

Stevenage F.C – ‘meeting the opposition’.

Stevenage F.C – ‘meeting the opposition’

This upcoming Tuesday night sees Tranmere play host to Stevenage in a League Two encounter. With that in mind, I placed questions towards Boro supporter Reece Donnelly. He told me about the positions of the visitors, on and off the pitch, going into this fixture before giving a quick insight to a game in which The Whites look to improve on their winning streak of six.

How long have you been a Stevenage fan? How did you first come across the club?

It’s my local team. It’s hard to say when I first came to know about them but it was always a club on the up. The feeling of pride that I have when I watch them will always be a special feeling and that’s what’s kept me around. 

Proudest moment as a fan?

Got to be either being crowned National League Champions in 2010 or beating Newcastle, who was easily a top 7 team in the Premier League at the time, in the FA Cup.

Random fact about the club?

We were the first team ever to win a trophy at the new Wembley Stadium.

What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? What were your expectations going into this season and what are they now in the final stages?

After the season of horror last year, Stevenage just wanted a side to be proud of again. The goal was always football league safety for me. We’re getting there. It’s been a rough ride but if we end the season with the foundations to push on further next time round then I’d be perfectly happy.

What are your thoughts on manager, Alex Revell?

Revell had a really hard job coming in, especially considering that he had no managerial experience prior to being appointed. However he brought in, the knowledge of a modern player, the experience of many different dressing rooms and a real hunger. That shines through. The players talk about it often. He’s growing and learning whilst on the job, he’s far from perfect but we are starting to trust him.

What are your thoughts on Stevenage owner Phil Wallace?

Wallace, after so much support for so long, is wearing thin on people. Hopefully he learnt his lesson during the recent transfer window and whilst appointing Revell was the easy option, it was also a brave one. It takes guts.

What players will pose the greatest threats to Tranmere on Tuesday night?

Elliott List had scored 2 in 3 now. His pace in behind is frightening and is sure to keep people on their toes. If you understand League Two then you will understand that Luke Norris is capable of giving defences a hard time, he got off the mark with a goal on Saturday.

What is your score prediction for the match at Prenton Park?

We have a truly dismal record at your place, whilst we also have belief in our game plan and style. Tranmere are very difficult to beat but with everything pointing to a Rovers win, it seems too obvious to go for them. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.

What is your opinion on Tranmere?

Tranmere are a big football club, who are unlucky to be in this division. The Whites have some really good players and excellent support. I’d be surprised if they weren’t in the hunt for promotion come May.

What were your thoughts following the last meeting between the two clubs? The game finished 0-0.

There were two evenly matched teams on display, it became very scrappy and very desperate as it was obvious that both sides lacked that match winning quality. Arguably a typical game for this level.

What are your thoughts on Stevenage’s January transfer business?

The recruitment was very necessary. We signed: Matty Stevens, Luke Norris and Chris Lines who were all needed just to inject something into our attacking play which just wasn’t clicking. Joe Martin knows the level and provides good options. The club also recruited the services of Jack Roles and Hector-Ingram on loan, two massive massive cherries on top of our transfer window cake.

Given that Elliot Osbourne played for Tranmere, on a few occasions in 2016, what are your thoughts on him?

I haven’t seen too much of him due to his unfortunate injury but when he has played I’ve been quietly impressed. He’s always looking to go forward and has a really nice passing range.

‘Elliot List has scored two goals in three games now, his pace is frightening and is set to cause any opposing defence problems’.

I would like to thank Reece for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him. This league encounter should be interesting, a Rovers win could see them strengthen themselves in the automatic promotion places whereas a Stevenage win could see them distance away from the relegation places. Let’s hope it’s better on the eye than the return fixture was. I hope that readers enjoyed this Q+A.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

Heswall F.C – A profile of a very proud non league club.

Heswall F.C – A club profile on the proud Merseyside non-leaguers 

This year the Yellows have their 120th anniversary, this profile examines why they are different from any other non-league outfit.

Honours:

7 x West Cheshire league champions

7 x Wirral senior cup winners

10 x Wirral amateur cup winners

4 x Pyke cup winners

3 x West Cheshire league bowl winners

2 x Cheshire Amateur cup winners (at least)

Heswall F.C, The Yellows, was founded in 1891 and play their football at the picturesque Gayton Park. The club’s current chairmen are Robbie Matthews and Andy Cass, Cass is also the first team manager alongside coaches Ben Scoffield and Jake Cripps. Ben’s family have a long history at Heswall, his grandfather was involved in the 1960’s whilst his father Alan played over 700 times for the club. The reserve team manager is Nathan Brooks, his assistant is Dave Hird. The West Cheshire League is the division that they operate in.

The Gayton Park club certainly plays its part in improving the community, if you ever have the pleasure of coming to this ground you can enter the clubhouse where meetings take place and spectators can grab a pint and something to eat. On the pitch, every summer there are games played for the Alzheimer’s society. On the side of the pitch sees the only stand being named after a local guy who fairly recently passed away ‘The Ron Wells Stand’. The Well’s family is still prominent throughout the well-established club, Ron’s son and grandson being heavily involved with every vital subject matter.

In these unprecedented times, when reading the news you often see the lack of food that working-class families have and are greeted by the great work that Marcus Rashford has done in communication with the Government for families like the one he grew up in. Heswall Football Club has, for a long time now, opened its doors for food bank collections. The club’s work has been appreciated by the Wirral Foodbank Collection, awarded with a certificate.

However, on the pitch, it is fair to say that Heswall is successful in its own right. Last season, a campaign that was unfortunately brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, saw the Yellows win the West Cheshire League Bowl. As seen above, as well, they have won a good amount of non-league trophies including being named champions of the first division on an impressive seven occasions.

Furthermore, if the class that the club has needs to be put on show again then you mustn’t look any further than the story involving young Rory. The little man takes pleasure in being a ‘groundhopper’ with his dad and as Gayton Park was his 50th stadia visit, a plaque was made for him by those that knew of his story by the club.

Heswall F.C, the Yellows, a non-league side like no other.