Matchdays, I miss them.

Matchdays, I miss them.

I’ve been thinking recently of what going back to football means and how great it will be when Prenton Park can be packed with loyal Tranmere fans all searching for the same thing, joy beyond despair. 

It’s now been a year, it reached that milestone in midweek, since an away end was full of Rovers fans without restrictions. You’d have to go even further for that to have been the case for a home game. 

Blackpool away that was, which came after trips to Accrington and Shrewsbury, the travelling fans from Merseyside had a lot to celebrate and I’d be lying if I said that COVID-19 was the biggest worry on anyone’s mind. When your team is defending a 2-1 lead for half an hour, it’s hard to think of a virus which seems to be only affecting poor areas of Asia. If I’m being honest I thought that England was going to be the exception of this pandemic, I thought that we were in the modern age now and there was no way that something like that could possibly affect us to a great extent. It seemed that the players shared my belief also, it was rumoured and I don’t know if this was government advice that handshakes were going to be allowed. I mean, if I remember correctly players weren’t allowed. However, there they were shaking others hands following the blow of a whistle.  

I was wrong with my guess of how much the virus would shape our lives, I’d like to send my condolences to anyone who has been affected. We all have been in some shape or form. 

Another section of people who were wrong, was Tranmere fans in general. Everyone, well 99% of us, thought we would stay up in League One following a successful transfer window which saw James Vaughan and Alex Woodyard come in on loan. Vaughan and Ferrier seemed to be the perfect mix of pace, strength and great finishing. It seemed to be a striking partnership that would keep us in the league and stop any chance of great work to get to that division go to waste, a partnership great on the pitch but not great enough off it for the  leagues to be concluded and decided on PPG few months on from when a jubilant away end was packed with Rovers supporters in the North West. 

It’s mad to think that it’s been a year since that, a game that will certainly have been kept in the mind of anyone who was there to experience it. It was a night full of goosebumps and you’ll most probably get them again if you watch the match highlights. I’ve been at Prenton Park twice since the lockdown began. Bradford and Walsall at home, masks on for two defeats in the bitter cold away from anyone to talk to, we’ve all spent this campaign watching games behind screens and if the win ratio is anything to go by then that is most probably for the best. 

However, that’s not the case and football grounds will soon open. Hopefully for next season, 2021/22. Much to the excitement of anyone who has an affection for the club, or even those who just enjoy going to the games themselves. Up and down the country the social lives of football fans will soon improve, standing and talking to friends with a bovril and burger in hand. A packed kop to either hear or be in, a football team to watch that has kept us all going mad this season with many highs and lows. We’re in a promotion battle (4th in the table) and in a Trophy final this upcoming Sunday. Remember the massive defeats, on the road, to Crawley and Exeter? Remember the time we all tuned in to iFollow to watch Mike Jackson take charge? Those bad times are all memorable. However, looking forwards it’s time to be optimistic. For a better team and for a better personal social life, regardless of what the pandemic has left us bereft of. June 21st 2021 is a date to have saved and a date to look forward to, that’s in just over three months time and holds the day where restrictions should hopefully be lifted. 

Below are things that I miss most about football, in no particular order. I’ll also mention the subject topics that have sunk into the hearts and minds of anyone affected with the club over this horrible period of time.

  • Celebrations. I won’t talk too much about this but type up ‘Tranmere’s twelfth man’ on YouTube and you just know what I will mean when I say that I miss being in the mix of this whilst singing Tequila or any other beautifully made up song .. ‘One night in gay Paris’ comes to mind.
  • The food and drink. Regardless of how much we used to hate Willow Catering, I’d give anything to be in a stadium staring at one of them with Tranmere playing in front of me. I just probably wouldn’t go in for the bite.
  • Meeting the people that you only ever do on a matchday. I used to see all of my school friends and closest mates when we used to travel the country and enter Prenton Park together. I miss that. It’s also hard to not see the elderly couple behind me, Pat and Jeff. We’d all talk about what was on our minds and although we’d have our disagreements from time to time, the laughs and hugging them when we’d score will always be on the forefront of my minds when I think about them. I hope they’re okay. We all have people that we think of in the ‘without match days we’d never have met, I’m glad we have’ category and we all can’t wait to meet them again.
  • A different perspective to the beautiful game. When you’re watching Tranmere on a screen your left bereft of the things you’d most probably be looking out for whilst you’re at the game. What’s his off the ball work ethic like etc? A question that I normally always ask about forward Corey Blackett-Taylor, I won’t go into that much. I’ll be happy when I can watch more in person rather than placing my details into my laptop and phone. 
  • Awaydays. Travelling the country with your friends. Drinking, eating, laughing, celebrating, talking and exploring a new part of the country you thought you never would. Thank god we don’t have to go to the likes of Braintree and Dover anymore, they were good days though looking back. Let’s hope we’re taking a league one side to the sword the next time hundreds and thousands of us make the descent.
  • Mike Jackson. A great assistant manager but a step too far when he was made manager in the summer, it was painful watching the team under his stewardship but I wish him all the best going forwards as he’s always came across as a true gent whenever our paths have crossed and his work as assistant under Micky Mellon and his time as a battling centre half won’t be forgotten about.
  • Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson. Two men that have made the thought of promotion possible this campaign, what a month November was with these men pulling the strings.
  • Keith Hill. I was Skeptical, just like everyone else was, at first but he’s shown his quality and Tranmere are in good hands with him in the dugout. The salt and pepper he originally spoke about has been added and if that means promotion and a trophy win then it will taste like the chicken you can get from the shop in Birkenhead town centre.
  • The work the club does for the community and how the Rovers faithful gather around that to support our message of looking after the community at all times, in any way possible. 
  • Papa John’s Trophy final. We’ve had to beat some strong opposition to get to this point, Oxford and Peterborough in particular but the game is here for us all to relish on Sunday. 
  • Indonesian investors and their social media interactions with fans, I’ve even had the pleasure of talking to Simon on a few occasions.
  • Idrissu Ismael. The club has gained a supporter from Accra, Ghana and he has certainly left a mark on us all recently. At first I thought that his account was fake, you see plenty of them and just why would someone that far away hold any affection towards the club? However due to social media platforms, accounts and newspapers such as the Wirral Globe getting in touch with him it’s now clear that he’s very much one of us from afar. A great man, a kind heart, great love for the team we all adore and a hope of reaching Merseyside one day. Supporters have even set up a fundraiser to get him over here.
  • Nate’s journey with a horrible illness. Nate, a little boy who will be a virtual mascot at Wembley this weekend, has all been on our minds across the course of this season. He’s been suffering with a brain tumour and has had to keep a strong and cheerful smile on his face throughout. Everyone at Tranmere loves that little fella and he is a true testament to his father, who I’ve had the pleasure of talking to on a few occasions. 
  • Search for promotion following a demotion.
  • Twitter GC ‘TRFC OK’. Couldn’t finish this without mentioning my daily source of entertainment could I?.

Blackpool away. 10th March 2020. The last time an away end was packed with jubilant Tranmere fans. It shouldn’t be too long before we’re all together again experiencing the similar emotions as we search for joy beyond despair.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe and optimistic because it could all be here before you know it,

Ethan Hoijord

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