Tranmere Rovers start their 2023-24 League Two season on Saturday afternoon at home to Pete Wild’s Barrow AFC.
It has been a great summer for The Whites, that may be down to opinion, as players of a high calibre have been recruited in the likes of goalkeeper Luke McGee and strikers Luke Norrris alongside Kristian Dennis.
Dennis was a right handful when he played against Tranmere last year, netting a brace thus The SWA are undoubtedly very excited to see what he can do at Prenton Park.
There is still more to be done, for me, as I’d quite like Ian Dawes, backed by technical director Nigel Adkins, to add a couple of defenders, midfielders and attackers to the squad but having Charlie Jolley and Kieron Morris back fit feels like signings in itself.
Barrow AFC, managed by Pete Wild, finished ninth in May and will provide a strong test on the weekend. To hear more about The Bluebirds, I spoke to Lewis Haigh ahead of the ninety minutes.
How long have you been a Barrow fan? What was your first experience of the club?
I’ve been a Barrow supporter since 2015, being 11 at the time and part of a family who dislike football for some very odd reason. I didn’t go to a whole bunch of games that season… but I did actually get to watch us bottle a 3 – 1 lead against the Rovers!
Best and worst moments during your time supporting The Bluebirds?
Best moment undeniably has to be getting promotion back into the football league. Special moment for all the fans and we’ve done well to keep ourselves in it and hopefully this season we can have our best finish yet! I would have to say that I haven’t really witnessed a ‘worst moment’ as I started watching the club properly at a point where things were on the up! Perhaps looking over our shoulders the first two seasons we got back into the EFL knowing relegation was a real possibility!
Pete Wild is Barrow’s manager as the former Halifax and Oldham boss was appointed in late May 2022. What is his playing style like as well as his relationship with supporters?
Pete Wild is a brilliant manager, the fans adore him and we trust he will always do the right thing for the team and for the club. His playing style is very much trying to maintain a good shape on the pitch, having the lads work hard out of possession and utilising wide players to create problems that we can score from!
Josh Gordon scored 15 goals last season but moved to Burton Albion in the summer. How big of a miss will he be? Who are the players to keep an eye out for now?
I’d say Josh is going to be a miss for us! Not only was he a massive fan favourite, he was tricky, had an incredible leap on him and as you say scored 15 important goals for us last season. I would hope the signings we have made can make up for the loss of his goals, not only up front but from midfield as well as we didn’t score many goals from there last term.
My suggestions on the players to watch this season would be Jamie Proctor, Dean Campbell, Ben Whitfield. I personally think Jamie is where we will see the loss of Josh Gordon’s goals made up, I predict him to be our top goal scorer. Dean Campbell I think is one of our best signings this summer, from watching him in preseason he is good on the ball, technical and creative hence why I think he will be up there providing goals to the team come the end of the season! Ben Whitfield is here for similar reasons, had the most assists for us last season, incredibly creative and hard working and I think we can see something similar from him this season.
Paul Hornby became the Owner of Barrow quite recently, how well has he been doing in this role? What does the club look like away from the pitch?
I think it is very, very easy to see the impact Paul has had on the club since his arrival. We are moving forward constantly, securing tenancy of improved club facilities in Manchester, the progress of the stadium has been immense, with two new semi-permanent stands being built and the away end being reformed to now hold over 900. That in itself will allow us to capitalise financially on the bigger away followings some teams bring. Moreover, himself and Iain Wood have backed Pete in the market to bring in the kind of players he has been after and again, they have looked to secure deals for players who can become footballing and financial assets to the club. It has very much become about progressing the club constantly and I hope we continue to see it on and off the pitch.
Tranmere and Barrow last faced each other in late December 2022 as a late goal from Striker Kane Hemmings won the game for the visitors. What are your thoughts on The
I was at that game and I was not happy with watching that goal go in! Despite that, I have to say I think the Rovers have done some decent business particularly with the addition of Luke Norris. I expect the Rovers to finish in a similar position as last term if not better!
This Summer Barrow have signed: Right Winger David Worrall, Striker Jamie Proctor and Midfielder Dean Campbell amongst others. With the window still open, where else do you think needs strengthening?
First of all I am incredibly pleased with most of the business we have done as a club this summer. I still expect perhaps another player to come through the door especially with the mutual contract termination between the club and Richie Bennett. I believe we need another CB to make up for the injury to Mazeed Ogungbo primarily.
How excited are you for this season to start? Who are you looking forward to coming up against and what are your expectations?
This season is the most excited I have been for a season of football in my entire life. The competition this term is immense and I fully expect us to solidify a mid table spot once again. I am excited to play Morecambe obviously with it being our actual local rivals, I particularly enjoyed my trip to Bradford last season. I think Gillingham, Wrexham and Stockport will be good fixtures to watch as well.
Saturday afternoon sees Tranmere return to Prenton Park for competitive football for the first time in three months. It has been a great summer for The Rovers as players such as Luke McGee, Kristian Dennis and Luke Norris have been recruited. It feels nice to be back!