Mansfield Town (A)

It is now time to return all the excitement and optimism as the season draws closer.

In the past week, Mike Jackson’s Tranmere Rovers have played two competitive cup games that have resulted in penalty defeats. Although they were beaten, as the season draws nearer, the newly appointed Rovers manager has been able to take some positives from watching his team switch from friendly encounters to fierce competitive run outs. 

The two cup games were spread across two cup competitions:  in the league cup Tranmere played Harrogate at Prenton Park and in the EFL trophy they faced Port Vale at Vale Park. 

The eleven that would face Harrogate, a game that resulted in a 1-1 draw with James Vaughan slotting into the empty net as he was able to dribble past the ‘Town’ goalkeeper, was: Scott Davies, Lee O’Connor, Peter Clarke, Manny Monthe, Calum Macdonald, Otis Khan, Jay Spearing, Paul Lewis, Corey Blackett-Taylor, James Vaughan, Morgan Ferrier. A few days later, as Tranmere travelled for their first competitive game, Jackson made four changes to his eleven: Joe Murphy replaced Scott Davies, Ollie Banks replaced Paul Lewis, Liam Ridehalgh came in to the team as Calum Macdonald was pushed into the wing-back position and Stefan Payne played as a lone striker as James Vaughan and Morgan Ferrier were left at home.

Throughout the two games, there was one mainstaying strength and one unfortunate weakness following a period of successful recruitment. The defence maintained the qualities that brought a spike of success in the tail end of the previous season. Strength and leadership characteristics were shown in Peter Clarke and Emmanuel Monthe and the newly recruited full-backs O’Connor and Macdonald showed their comfortability on the ball as they aimed to create attacking situations. Liam Ridehalgh also impressed when he was brought in against Port Vale. Although Mike Jackson was able to secure the signatures of Otis Khan and James Vaughan and keep hold of players who are able to threaten good football league defences such as Ollie Banks, the weakness that has been shown in the past week is the inability to score and create much. In the league cup game against Harrogate Town, Rovers only managed one shot on target and the passing (56% accuracy) and crossing (1/10 completed) failed to impress. Jackson has acknowledged that his side must develop a ruthless streak in front of goal and has stated that their transfer business is yet to be completed, thus this is certainly an area that Jackson knows he needs to improve on and I believe that he will.

This coming weekend sees the start of another league campaign, around six months after Tranmere travelled to Blackpool and returned home with three points and thousands of optimistic and excited fans who believed survival was a real possibility. Cruelly due to the coronavirus, the league was forced by the EFL board to end on a PPG (points per game) basis and all hopes were shattered. Now it is time to turn hopes of survival into a great promotion season and return all the optimism and excitement that was once held in the ‘Super White Army’s’ hearts. The first league opponents are Mansfield Town, who play their home games at Field Mill, a stadium that hosts a capacity of 9,186. The ‘stags’ are managed by Graham Coughlan, who was appointed in December 2019. Much to the disappointment of the ‘stag’ fans, they finished the season in 21st position which was a great difference to their finish in the campaign before as they finished the 2018/19 season competing in the play-offs. This pre-season has seen a great turnaround in their squad’s personnel, many have been released such as the new Tranmere forward Otis Khan and they have received an undisclosed fee from Blackpool for the 25-year-old forward C.J Hamilton. A number of faces have come into the ‘town’, experienced forward Jordan Bowery has signed on an undisclosed fee from Milton Keynes and should, if fit, pose a threat to the Tranmere back-line on Saturday. The signings of Luton Town goalkeeper Marek Stech and Bristol Rovers centre-half Rollin Menayese should also be successful in strengthening their defensive play. Interestingly, former 34-year-old Newcastle United defender James Perch has also joined Mansfield Town. Thus, it is safe to say that the ‘stags’ have had a successful transfer window and will pose a threat to many league two clubs. It shall be a great, yet tough, game to start the season. 

Tranmere Rovers v Mansfield Town

Games played – 80

Tranmere wins – 33

Draws – 22

Mansfield wins – 25

The last Mansfield v Tranmere game at Field Mill finished 3-0 to the ‘stags’.

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Interviews with Tranmere Rovers supporters about tomorrow’s game and the upcoming season:

Where will we finish? – ‘top five’, ‘automatic promotion’, ‘top five but we may sneak into automatic promotion’, ‘Play-offs’. 

Thoughts on the manager? – ‘inexperienced thus he needs time’, ‘hes inexperienced thus needs support and time, he’s brought good players in and it seems like he wants to play exciting football’, ‘had my doubts but his recruitment has been great and all the players have spoken highly, thus i’m looking forward to see what he can do’, ‘He’s inexperienced so it’ll either go great or awful’.

Who is our best player? – ‘Blackett-Taylor’, ‘Blackett-Taylor’, ‘Blackett-Taylor’, ‘Emmanuel Monthe or Otis Khan’.

What do you think the score will be tomorrow? – ‘0-0’, ‘0-0’, ‘1-1’, ‘2-2’. 

If you could bring one player in, who would it be? – ‘A loanee forward, Anthony Gordon would be amazing’, ‘Kaiyne Woolery’, ‘Kaiyne Woolery’, ‘Outside shout, Bobby Duncan’. 

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Past, present and future: a look towards the start of a new campaign after a tough few months.

Past, present and future:

Tranmere’s broken dreams and the club’s aims of promotion.

First of all, let’s cast our mind back to January … it’s amazing how we are now in September, it’s amazing how we’ve survived this long without watching our beloved Tranmere Rovers. 

We needed a good transfer window as we moved into the new decade, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere were struggling to stay away from the relegation zone. In December, the ‘super whites’ only managed to achieve five out of a possible fifteen points. The team lacked goalscorers, players to partner Morgan Ferrier who was brought to Merseyside in the summer. The team lacked a midfield general of a positive age, an age that wouldn’t describe Prenton Park as a ‘retirement home’. The team also lacked an experienced defender who could lead Tranmere with a great character to bark orders and possess great strength, this playing description is what I’d like from a captain. To combat these lackings, Mark Palios (Tranmere owner) brought in James Vaughan and Andy Cook, Alex Woodyard and Luke Mcculough as well as veteran captain material Peter Clarke. Although these signings were positive, it took time for them to fit in and show their qualities. From January 1st to 22nd February, Tranmere played nine league fixtures achieving a shockingly disappointing two points and despite capturing the signatures of Vaughan and Cook, the ‘whites’ only managed to score three goals. The worst performance of the lot, in my opinion, came against bitter rivals Bolton Wanderers in a 2-0 defeat on February 1st which was a time when Tranmere fans were positive after a successful transfer window.  Whatever happened in training between Wycombe Wanderers away and Shrewsbury Town away clearly worked as Tranmere went from no wins in eleven to winning the first of a consecutive three games. These three victorious games were all on the road, nearby away games at Shrewsbury Accrington and Blackpool. Tranmere won all games by one goal and despite the growing feeling of positivity and the loud chants in the away terraces, there is no worry that can match the one of trying to hold onto a lead for the last thirty minutes. The performances all showed quality and all of the signings made in January showed their class. Peter Clarke was showing his strong captain leadership alongside Mark Ellis who’s return from injury was a successful one, as he scored two goals which showed his striker poaching ability. Woodyard was showing his quality in midfield alongside Mcculough, a very strong partnership in midfield. Up front, Tranmere were now scoring goals as Morgan Ferrier became comfortable on the pitch with the signing of James Vaughan and the pair excelled together, setting up and slotting home to set Tranmere to victory.    

Despite the positivity, there was a growing global pandemic and the government’s lockdown plans had to postpone the season to a point of no return. There was cries of null and void, there was cries of no relegations yet the outcome was PPG (points per game) which was terribly unfair on Tranmere giving their strong end to the season winning three consecutive games on the road and that Tranmere’s upcoming fixtures were against teams near them in the scrap for safety. The demotion to league two was announced in early June, three months later in a response to a question from the media, Mike Jackson stated ‘I think it’s far too unfair to see it as a relegation, I view it as an unfair demotion’. I thoroughly believe that we would’ve stayed up. Although I am frustrated at the EFL for their choice making in the way that they ended the season, in a world full of great upset and worry I am able to place my mind elsewhere and focus on other things as this year has taught everyone to not take anything for granted. I now look forward to the new season and will forever be thankful to Mark and Nicola Palios with the great work that they have always placed into the club to keep the fans positive through incredibly tough times.

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One month after the demotion to league two, Tranmere legend Micky Mellon placed his signature on to a Dundee United contract to seal his dream move home to the Scottish premiership. A few days before this, Tranmere legend Connor Jennings moved to Stockport County following the end of his contract in Merseyside. On the same day, Bailey Thompson was transferred to non-league Tadcaster Albion. Unfortunately Thompson wasn’t able to show his qualities in a Tranmere shirt. The greatest of blows to Tranmere fans was the departures of Mellon and Jennings. Mellon had been the manager since the club had competed in the national league and with him at the helm Tranmere fans had experienced three walks down wembley way, winning promotion twice in two very emotional days against Boreham Wood which was a game that would have made a movie and against Newport County. Connor Jennings would also be a miss, he was the man that assisted the goal in the play off final to seal Tranmere’s return to the football league after being in a ‘coma state’ a few days prior. The other players that would leave Tranmere in the same summer are: Paul Mullin, Jake Caprice, Luke Mcculough, Evan Gumbs, David Perkins, Harvey Gilmour and Luke Pilling. All players that I believe we have been able to strengthen on with recruitment, yet I’d like to thank them all for their contributions in a white shirt as players such as Harvey Gilmour have been able to create great memories such as the manic game in Morecambe where we won 4-3. We have also been able to say farewell to the old pitch, thankfully, as it was tearing up and looking like a horrific mud bath throughout the 2019/20 season.

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So, with all these departures what have we done with recruitment and who is the new manager that has the tough task of replacing scotsman Micky Mellon? Also, how good is the new playing surface that they will attempt to achieve promotion back to league one on?

‘After a time of careful consideration, we have come to the decision to announce Mike Jakcon as the new Tranmere manager’. When Mellon left for his homeland, Tranmere fans were hoping for an experienced football league name and the majority wanted Nidgel Adkins. Mark Palios, however, believed it was best that Mellon was replaced by his assistant and there has since been a strong sense of optimism after a summer of great recruitment for the manager with little football experience in the hot-seat, with videos of training and players clearly backing their manager on social media. I believe that Jackson will do well as Tranmere manager. The 46-year-old played as a defender, and was once a mainstay in the Tranmere line-up. He played for: crewe, bury, preston, tranmere, blackpool and shrewsbury. He was at Tranmere for four years from 2002 to 2006 before returning in 2016 with Micky Mellon after the duo’s departure from Shrewsbury Town. Thus, Jackson understands the characters in the current Tranmere squad and will know how to get the best out of them, this season should be exciting. Mike Jackson’s assistant will be Ian Dawes, who has managed Bangor City and coached at Liverpool and Blackpool.

There have been many signings over the summer that show promise, there have also been many that show experience and leadership qualities in their performances. I think it’s safe to say that this pre-season has been the best in a long while in terms of recruitment. It’s been a summer that proves the Palios’ want the best for Tranmere to have any chance of a first attempt promotion.

In goal, Joe Murphy has replaced the departing Luke Pilling. Joe is an experienced goalkeeper and began his career at Tranmere in 1998 when he turned professional, he has since played for clubs such as Scunthorpe United, Coventry City and Bury. I believe Murphy will challenge Scott Davies in goal for the number 1 spot. 

In defence, Lee O’Connor and Calum Macdonald. O’Connor comes in replacing Jake Caprice as the former Tranmere full-back moved to Exeter City this summer. The 20-year-old has featured for Manchester United at youth level before signing for Celtic, he has also represented his country, Ireland, at senior level. Macdonald has featured for Barrow and Blackpool and has the ability and comfortability in his attacking left-back play to challenge Liam Ridehalgh’s place in the starting eleven.

In midfield: Paul Lewis, Jay Spearing and Otis Khan have all travelled to Merseyside to show their leadership ability and quality. Lewis has previously featured for Macclesfield and Cambridge Town, Tranmere fans may remember him as he scored a hat-trick against the ‘Rovers’ whilst he was at Macclesfield. Spearing is a captain material midfielder and as little as eight years ago featured for Liverpool in a FA Cup final against Chelsea, he has since played for Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool and many Blackpool fans have stated their disappointment about the club’s departure on social media. Otis Khan, a 24-year-old attacking midfielder who can also play as a winger, has previously featured for Yeovil and Mansfield Town after coming through the academies of both Manchester and Sheffield United. In 2016, Khan appeared on ITV’s ‘ninja warrior’ completing the course in a time of 2:41 so be aware that I may nickname him as the ‘ninja warrior’ through my match reports.   

In the search for goals, last season’s successful loanee James Vaughan has signed from Bradford City.  The experienced striker has previously played for: Everton, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, Birmingham, Bury, Wigan, Sunderland and Bradford. Micky Mellon brought Vaughan to Tranmere last season on loan, the striker made an impact as he scored three goals in eight games. League two should be afraid of the partnership that is James Vaughan and Morgan Ferrier.

Mark Ellis, Peter Clarke and Danny Walker-Rice have all extended their contracts. Ellis and Clarke are two great central defenders who last season proved that they could play incredibly well together, Walker-Rice is a young winger who has featured in cup games and friendlies such as the game against Liverpool last season. He is a winger with no short of confidence and a great ability to bring the ball forwards and create great opportunities for the strikers. 

Tranmere are also delighted to announce the signings of George Nugent (winger), Kyle Hayde (defender) and Jake Burton (forward) as the trio move from Andy Parkinson’s academy to Mike Jackson’s senior squad.

A new playing surface has also been brought into Prenton Park over the summer, it looks amazing and has premier league standard qualities which should excite Tranmere fans considering the state of the pitch that we saw last season.

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As Well as being a time to sign players, the summer’s pre-season has also been a time of trying to regain the fitness that may have been lost over the course of lockdown through the covid-19 pandemic. Friendlies have been organised and played against: The New Saints, Warrington, Preston and Burnley. Manager Mike Jackson has said ‘I am happy with the way we have performed through the friendlies, we have shown quality at times and the fitness keeps improving, so I am happy’. The games are soon set to become more competitive …

Tranmere face Harrogate on Saturday 5th September in the EFL Cup, it will be at Prenton Park but behind closed doors. Those who want to watch the game will be able to purchase it from iFollow for £10.

Tranmere face Port Vale on Tuesday 8th September in the EFL Trophy, it will be at Vale Park but behind closed doors. Again, those wanting to view it, will be able to purchase it from iFollow.

Harrogate have recently been promoted to the football league, in a play-off final against Neal Ardley’s Notts County. They are managed by Simon Weaver, who has managed the ‘sulphurites’ since 2009 in their great journey to the football league. I believe that they are a strong side however they have a lot to prove as the club has never competed in the football league. They were founded in 1914, yet before the second world war was known as Harrogate Hotspurs. I believe that Saturday will be the first time that Tranmere will have ever faced them. Tranmere fans should keep their eye out for a player named George Thompson who is a technical and experienced midfielder who scored in the national league play-off final last season.

Last season, Port Vale finished in a strong position of 8th. They are managed by John Askey and have been since 2019, Tranmere fans should recognise Askey as he was the manager of Macclesfield Town through Tranmere’s many battles with them through national league fixtures. Their summer has been successful as they try to build on from last season and aim for promotion, they have added players such as the experienced striker Theo Robinson, who scored 11 goals in 28 games in a loan spell at Colchester United last season. They were founded in 1907 and are great rivals with Stoke City. Tranmere have met the ‘valiants’ 93 times, being victorious 40 times.

Personally, I think that Tranmere are both strong in the 4/2/3/1 and 4/4/2 formations, I would play: Scott Davies, Lee O’Connor, Mark Ellis, Peter Clarke, Calum Macdonald, Jay Spearing, Paul Lewis, Kieron Morris, Otis Khan, Corey Blackett-Taylor and Stefan Payne. However, if manager Mike Jackson opts for the 4/4/2 formation I would play James Vaughan and Morgan Ferrier in the places of Otis Khan and Stefan Payne.  

I think both games will be exciting as they are both opposition who Tranmere will soon face in league action. The games will aim to show Tranmere’s quality against league opponents and I think that the games will display Tranmere’s areas of weaknesses and strengths to help Jackson understand  where he may need to keep strengthening in the summer transfer window as they aim to have a strong league two campaign.

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Throughout the course of the season, I aim to do my best to improve on the content I produce and to bring you the best that I can possibly manage.

Thank you.

Micky Mellon’s time at Tranmere:

The man who made us proud to be Tranmere, again:

In my honest opinion, I believe Micky Mellon made Tranmere less laughable of a club to support, as a kid I experienced on many occasions people laughing at people born on the wirral peninsula for supporting their local club. Throughout his tenure, supporting Tranmere became more fashionable. This is the result of great hard work, a manager with a strong knowledge of football and passion for the club he had played for many years before. This is the result of back-to-back promotions and three visits to the capital to play at the greatest stadium in the nation, Wembley. This was also the result of the club’s ownership, Mark and Nicola Palios, appointing the correct man to take Tranmere fans to the feeling that they hadn’t experienced since the days of the ‘King’, Johnny King. Following the recent news, I believe we as fans can be gutted about Mellon’s departure but should also be excited about the future and the next journey of our great football club. Mellon made us proud to be Rovers fans again, it’s our job now to make our new manager whoever it may be proud to be part of us.    

Micky Mellon was appointed on the 7th October of 2016, an appointment which brought great excitement in my eyes as well as the eyes of others. We had previously experienced dark days with managers such as Rob Edwards and Micky Adams who had brought a greatly established football league club to the national league. Although the tenure of Gary Brabin was hard to experience, as we missed out on the play-offs in our first season in the fifth tier, we also tried to understand the difficulty of adapting. Once Brabin was sacked and replaced by Micky Mellon, a proud scotsman with a great CV of the football league, we believed we had the correct man at the helm to adapt and thrive through our lowest period. Micky had played for the club, he was part of the ‘fabric of the place’ and through his press conference alongside Mark Palios, his words made the fans excited, his passion for the club oozed and his wanting to win games showed. ‘The players need to be proud to be playing for Tranmere and show that to win games’. Once I met him, my excitement grew further … the Tranmere manager we had recently appointed was great with the fans and considering the times we were enduring as a club we needed a man with these qualities in the hot-seat. 

Mellon’s first game at the helm was at home against Wrexham, the day following his announcement’s press conference. ‘I will be in the dug-out, I want to bring my passion and feel part of the group from an early stage’. The game was to be televised on BT cameras, the game was to finish with an Andy Cook goal in front of the Kop’s faithful and a fist in the air was raised … the first of many through a successful four years. This was the start of an unbeaten run of ten games, is there a better start for a new manager? The Scotsman’s first league defeat in the dugout came at Sincil Bank, in a meeting between the top two. However, the pride that the boss had spoken about in his press conference had already been shown. The club was starting a new chapter, a great time to be excited. The season continued in an excellent fashion: a last minute televised win in a local derby away at Chester, a 3-2 last minute home win against Sutton United before a risky infamous tweet by Micheal Ihiekwe and a 9-0 win at home to Solihull. This wasn’t enough to win the league, although we amassed an amazing 95 points, Lincoln were to be title winners. We would face Aldershot in the play-offs, an away tie first which was a 3-0 win down south with a packed and very loud away following followed by a home draw. For the first time in my lifetime, Tranmere were heading to Wembley. The result in the greatest stadium in England wasn’t a successful one. The performance of the players wasn’t successful either. Players, now club legends, apologised to the many thousands of travelling fans and stories such as striker James Norwood’s ‘I was at Andy Mangan’s all summer surviving on Mcdonalds and crying’ followed a year on. This was the start of Mellon’s tenure, this was the start of the years that would see Wembley labelled as ‘Prenton Park South’. This was the start of excitement, you mightn’t have believed it as you walked out of Wembley that afternoon … looking back, you believe it now.

In the summer of 2017, Mellon had to prepare his squad to get out of the national league in his first full season. Mellon’s need of pride remained, whatever faces came in or out his squad would have to play with passion to excite the fans and lift the club out of the fifth tier, it couldn’t survive in a great fashion for too long. Difficulties with keeping the club’s academy were released and ex-players, who the Tranmere academy had made, such as Max Power, took to twitter to state their feelings of upset. Mellon’s task was thus great, the start of the season didn’t match his needs. The start of a poor run of form came on the opening day with a poor uninspiring goal-less draw on the south-coast, at Torquay. The poor run of form ended once the players started to realise the need for improvement, they had let the club sink down the fifth tier table to a worrying position of (I believe) 18th. Within this worrying run of form, there was a Q and A held with fans in ‘Aldos’ where fans explained their worries about the start to the season, Micky remained calm and made fans laugh about the drone that watched over training which had been paid for from a player’s suspension fee. The remainder of the season was aimed at fighting for the play-offs, although there was a period of time that optimistic fans chose to aim towards the eventual title winners Macclesfield Town. Mid-November 2017 saw a state of result stabilisation and a sense of thriving, this was started by a 2-2 draw at Macclesfield and soon saw five victories where Tranmere would smash three or four goals past their opponents. This was halted by a 5-2 defeat at Fylde on the opening day of 2018, this was a constant. There was always an unbeaten streak of five or six that was halted by one poor defeat. The defeat in 2018 that will stay in the memories of Tranmere fans was the home performance against Macclesfield Town on a cold February night, the game showed the gulf in difference of quality between the eventual title winners and runners up. Being the runners up meant that we would yet again compete in the national league play-offs. However, there was a new rule which meant we would only have to play one home game against Ebbsfleet to get to Wembley. The game would be incredibly tight, however the quality shown in James Norwood’s feet shown as he struck a free-kick past the Ebbsfleet goalkeeper in extra-time and set Rovers on the verge of another trip to Wembley. This time, Mellon wouldn’t stand for any early celebrations, we wouldn’t be happy to just get there. We had a job to do. Micky’s eleven would face Boreham Wood and from the off, the ‘Tranmere way to victory’ was shown. We wouldn’t make the game easy for ourselves, left-back Liam Ridehalgh would be sent off in the first minute and all of our substitutions would be used up before the half-time break. Tranmere fans were worried, Micky expressed the need for them to be loud and guide his eleven to victory … victory was achieved from the feet of Connor Jennings and the head of James Norwood in front of the travelling loud Tranmere faithful. ‘Micky Mellon’s mission accomplished’ exclaimed the commentator, this was just the start. That was a great weekend, partnered with dancing and taking pictures with players and Micky himself in the fan park tent the following day, it made Tranmere fans proud to be Tranmere. Something no manager had been able to do in these lengths since Johnny King. 

The next aim of Mellon’s was to take Tranmere to League one. A league that their demise to the national league started in, four years earlier. The opening game of the season saw Mellon’s pride and passion in a hard-working draw at Stevenage, Micky’s half-time team talk must have worked wonders as his eleven were able to turn a losing position into a drawing one and start a solid basis in Rovers’ first season back in the football league. The opening half of the season, the first twenty-three games, Mellon’s team drifted between 15th and 4th. There were some great highs such as the last minute winner by Harvey Gilmour in a 4-3 thriller at Morecambe and an amazing display at Prenton Park in which Tranmere beat Crawley Town 5-1. However, performances of great quality were very inconsistent. On the road, Tranmere would be beaten by hosts Forest Green and Grimsby Town where the defensive qualities were lacking. A 3-1 defeat in Gloucestershire and a 5-2 defeat in the North East. Tranmere would go into the January window of 2019 in 9th place, which was considerably successful considering this was the re-start of another era in the football league. However, Mellon understood his personal attributes of promoting sides and knew that if he was to add experience and quality successfully in the first month of the year then he could promote Tranmere back-to-back. January was tough, half of the league games would end in defeats after a 7-0 home thrashing by Premier league opponents Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. February began the start of a great unbeaten run, the start of great optimism and the beginning for a new great chant to be sung on the kop ‘Micky Mellon going for two in a row’. An unbeaten streak of nine started in a home victory against Stevenage, what followed was victories against sides such as Port Vale, Exeter City and Colchester. The colchester game was away, ‘down south’, many of the Tranmere faithful travelled … they all travelled home with the birth of another great song to the tune of ‘Tequila’. The mood and atmosphere around the club was growing in positivity. April saw the biggest task of the season, however fans although worried or excited by the many tough games ahead saw light as their club was placed firmly in the play-off mix. Six games were in April, the majority were against sides pushing for promotion: MK, Forest Green, Lincoln and Bury. April would start with a poor performance on the pitch but a total contrast off it, Tranmere fans were great that day. 2,000 fans stood in the away terrace singing the chant of ‘Tequila’ as loud as possible until ten minutes after the final whistle. This feeling was amazing and it was created by Mellon’s tactics and signings in the recent previous months. Following the run of games against the promotion chasing clubs, although Tranmere had only taken five out of twelve available points they had confirmed their play-off place. They would face Forest Green, who had recently beaten them 1-0 at Prenton Park. Fans were excited but again worried, they knew the capabilities of their opponents and they had witnessed the previous encounters between them. What was to follow was amazing, an Ollie Bank’s screamer in front of their fans with the aid of the ‘goal-line technology’ and a Mike Dean celebration on the terraces in Gloucestershire. Mellon had guided Tranmere to Wembley again, for the third year running and they would face a tough Newport County side.  25th May 2019, a sunny day in the capital of England as thousands flocked from Merseyside for another great occasion. Chants of excitement were sung in the nearby Wembley pubs before the game, a game contested over 120 minutes. A game that was very edgy. A game that was settled by a substitution that brought Tranmere from defense to attack as Steve McNulty took to the pitch for the first time in months to the shock and disbelief of fans. In my opinion, this is the best substitution of Mellon’s reign at Tranmere. An unexpected one, that would lead to another promotion as the ball from the feet of Jake Caprice would meet the head of Connor Jennings and would bring euphoria amongst the travelling ‘Super White Army’. Tranmere were heading to League one, remember one year ago when the BT Sport commentator said that Mellon’s mission was accomplished? This was the greater definition of defying the odds, Tranmere had grown immensely and Mellon had created a new attitude for the club’s performance in major games, this resulted in the second trophy being held aloft in the Wembley skies by Steve McNulty and Scott Davies. Euphoria, memories, what a weekend.

The 2019/20 season seemed a stretch too far, disappointing signings were made in a relatively disappointing summer transfer window as Tranmere looked to compete in the third tier of English football. August 2019 to February 2020 saw the worst period of football from Mellon’s team and some fans called for him to be sacked. Only five games were won in the opening thirty performances, yet there were still some positive times amongst the disastrous. We beat Coventry City at Birmingham’s ‘St. Andrews’ on Sky sport cameras, we were victorious in Milton Keynes as loanee Rushian Hepburn-Murphy struck his hat-trick and we also beat promotion chasing Wycombe Wanderers away in a FA Cup clash which saw Kieron Morris hit a wonder goal. There were some positives, there was also a growing of inconsistency and signs of a side that were already down and heading to be relegated, I believe the biggest sign of a team already beaten came at Bolton Wanderers away on the 1st February. That was the biggest scare. However, with the signings that Mellon had made in the January transfer window he was able to bring another period of optimism. 25th February 2020 saw the start of a team that was trying their best to keep their league one status. It was a 3-2 win at Shrewsbury Town, Corey Blackett-Taylor showed his finishing qualities from a wonderfully hit assist by goalkeeper Davies to slot past the Shropshire outfit’s goalkeeper in front of the travelling faithful on a mid-week night. The following games would see trips to Accrington Stanley and Blackpool, both resulting in 2-1 wins with great performances in attack and defense. The growing partnerships of Peter Clarke and Mark Ellis, Alex Woodyard and Luke Mcculough, James Vaughan and Morgan Ferrier as well as the qualities from the wing such as player of the season Kieron Morris brought a new wave of excitement. I firmly believe Tranmere would’ve stayed up. Unfortunately, the EFL and Covid-19 had different ideas. With the growth of a global pandemic the EFL decided to end leagues one and two after giving a vote to all clubs and Tranmere would go down with 0.94 Points Per Game despite a game in hand on the team above ,AFC Wimbledon, who were a side that had 1 Point Per Game. Thus, Mellon’s reign would finish with a fist in Blackpool his home-town and very excited fans … we can only dream of what we were near to and look back with fond memories of the great manager who made Tranmere fans proud to be Tranmere again.

Micky Mellon’s departure from Tranmere Rovers was announced little over three and a half years after his appointment, his time at the club was above was to come to an end. He would leave as a legend in my eyes, the man who had brought excitement to my great local club through three trips to Wembley and two successful promotions from the fifth to third tier was to depart Merseyside for Dundee United. United, a club who have recently been promoted to the first tier of Scottish football was an opportunity that any proud Scotsman wouldn’t be able to turn down. Although I am slightly gutted, as I stated in the opening paragraph I believe we have owners that are capable of appointing the correct manager thus I look forward to the future and wish Micky Mellon the greatest of successes in Scotland.

Micky, thank you!

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Mellon’s first eleven: 08/10/16 v Wrexham: W 2-0: Scott Davies, Mitch Duggan, Micheal Ihiekwe, Steve McNulty, Ritchie Sutton, Liam Ridehalgh, Jay Harris, Steve Jennings, Ben Tollit (Elliot Osbourne), Andy Cook, Jake Kirby (Darren Stephenson).

Mellon’s final eleven: 10/03/20 v Blackpool: W 2-1: Scott Davies, Kane Wilson, Mark Ellis, Peter Clarke, Manny Monthe, Calum Woods (Corey Blackett-Taylor), David Perkins, Alex Woodyard, Kieron Morris, James Vaughan (Connor Jennings), Morgan Ferrier.

Mellon’s Tranmere signings: Adam Dawson, James Wallace, Jack Dunn, Erico Sousa, Aaron Collins, George Waring, James Alabi, Elliot Rokka, Jay McEvely, Dylan Mottley-Henry, Gerry McDonagh, Ollie Banks, Josh Kay, Rhys Taylor, Josh Ginnelly, Manny Monthe, Drissa Troare, Zoumana Bakayogo, Mark Ellis, Jonny Smith, Harvey Gilmour, Cole Stockton, Luke Mcculough, Ishmael Miller, Ben Pringle, Kieron Morris, Chris Dagnall, Calum Woods, George Ray, Darren Potter, Sid Nelson, Corey Blackett-Taylor, Stefan Payne, Jordan Ponticelli, Kane Wilson, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Peter Clarke, Aaron Chapman, Alex Woodyard, James Vaughan, Andy Mangan, Ben Tollit, Ollie Norburn, Devarn Green, Paul Mullin, Jake Caprice, Shamal George, Franklyn Akamaddu, David Perkins, Morgan Ferrier, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Jacob Maddox, Andy Cook, Darren Stephenson, Adam Buxton, Louis Almond, Larnell Cole, Ryan Williams, Neil Danns, Morgan Feeney.

Mellon’s tranmere record:

Games managed – 199.

Games won – 92.

Games drew – 45.

Games lost – 62.

Promotions – 2. Relegations – 1*. (due to ppg).

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Tranmere’s 19/20 ‘season’ review and my summer write-up plans.

A review of the season that wasn’t completely a ‘season’, the thinking that went behind an ‘unjust’ and ‘extremely poor’ decision to end the season and what exactly could this ‘relegation’ mean for Tranmere Rovers in a very frustrating yet interesting period of time.

Season review.
Before the season had started:
Tranmere Rovers were promoted to the football league in mid may 2018 against Boreham Wood, three seasons since their relegation to the non-league after a defeat at Plymouth’s Home Park, it was a game that typified the club and the attitudes within it. Everyone put in a shift, from the pitch to the many thousands of superwhite fans within and outside the ‘home of football’ Wembley. It was a very eventful ninety minutes, Rovers were without a man and the option of any substitutions just before the whistle blew for half time, yet managed to achieve promotion in the saying that bleeds Tranmere ‘it’s never easy’. Celebrations flowed, Tranmere would be a football league club for the first time since 2015 with great ownership in Mark and Nicola Palios and a great manager at the helm in Micky Mellon. Although Tranmere were promoted, hot-shot striker Andy Cook departed for league one Walsall FC, which meant James Norwood would be the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation that would promote Tranmere to League One. Again at Wembley Stadium, again with many vocal supporters, the story of success continued.
For the 2019/2020 season, Tranmere Rovers would compete in the third division ‘League One’. This would be the first time the club had graced the heights of this league since 2013/2014 and the mood surrounding the place had transformed massively since then. Supporters had gone from fed-up to optimistic, the ground had gone from run-down to sublime and the fans were incredibly thankful to everyone involved with the club for this. The thankfulness was shown in the stands, as the chants spurred the team on to victory. The optimistic chants of ‘Micky Mellon’s going for two in a row’ was soon replaced by the incredibly optimistic chants of ‘Micky Mellon’s going for three in a row’. This optimism was another subject matter that typified the club, through the motto brought to the club by owner Mark Palios ‘Ubi fides ibi lux et robur’. Latin for ‘Where there is faith, there is light and strength’.

The summer transfer window of 2019:
In the summer transfer window of 2019 a great amount of lower league quality and experience left the squad, with a mixture of released players and players that would leave on free transfers. Adam Buxton, James Devine, Steve Mcnulty, James Norwood, Cole Stockton, Ben Tollitt, Paddy Wharton, Zoumana Bakayogo and Jay Harris. The greatest loss of them all was the loss of James Norwood, the striker who had joined Gary Brabin’s national league Tranmere in 2015 with the aim of firing the whites to promotion. According to Wikipedia, the Eastbourne-born forward scored 82 goals in 165 appearances and this record proved his importance in Tranmere’s successive promotions. He scored the winning goal at Wembley in the summer of 2018, which is arguably the most important goal in Tranmere’s history. He also fired Tranmere to play-off promotion with 29 goals in 45 appearances in the 2018/19 season, whilst playing as a lone striker. Replacing him would be a massive task, yet it was a task that had to be completed in order to continue the recent story of great success. Tranmere signed players on permanent deals: Corey-Blackett Taylor, Kieron Morris, Sid Nelson, Stefan Payne, Darren Potter, George Ray, Calum Woods, Morgan Ferrier. They also signed players on loan deals: Jordan Ponticelli, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Jacob Maddox and Kane Wilson.

August – The start of a league one campaign:
Tranmere endured a tough start to a competitive league one campaign as they faced sides such as Rochdale at Prenton Park and travelled to Portsmouth on the South Coast. They would lose four games with one meaning that they would be knocked out of the EFL cup as they lost 3-0 against Hull City. However, positives were shown in the creation of great fan experiences. Micky Mellon’s side beat local rivals Bolton Wanderers 5-0 at Prenton Park and Stefan Payne’s equaliser at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium were memories that the ‘Super White Army’ could look back very fondly of.

Heavy defeats and new additions:
In September, the ‘SWA’ saw two heavy defeats on the road against Oxford United and against James Norwood’s new club Ipswich Town. Their team drew two games, against Peterborough United and Gillingham and they witnessed Tranmere’s famous comeback ability at Prenton Park against Burton Albion as Ollie Banks and new striker Stefan Payne netted in injury time. Neil Danns, a central midfielder, was brought in September following the demise of Bury. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was another signing made in September, a full back relatively unused at Manchester United, as depth was needed in the defensive area. Many argued this was a poor transfer window as although the players brought in had quality to excite, it looked worrying up-front. James Norwood out, Stefan Payne and Morgan Ferrier in ultimately wasn’t enough and this showed throughout the course of the season. The Tranmere faithful would have to wait until the winter until their excitement for the strikeforce grew.

Euphoria in Birmingham, the feeling didn’t last long:
In October, Tranmere would win on Sky Sports cameras at St. Andrews against Coventry City after Corey Blackett-Taylor netted in front of the away fans to cause a scene of pandemonium. However, the game didn’t do much to show how the future would pan out … little over a week later Tranmere travelled to Sunderland, they left with a 5-0 defeat. This was the game that Micky Mellon chose to question the mentality of his squad in a post match interview with the local press, ‘We can’t be saying that we were in the national league recently, we have to move on and our performances have to improve as we are Tranmere’.

Great win in an early ‘six-pointer’ and FA Cup progress:
This message was heard by the players, Rovers travelled to Buckinghamshire next to face Milton Keynes. Loanee forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy scored a hat trick to bring all three points home against opposition that Tranmere would seemingly finish near. In the FA Cup that month, Tranmere would progress after a hard fought win at Wycombe Wanderers in a replay following a tightly contested draw at Prenton Park. However, the league results didn’t match the levels of performance quality. Wycombe managed to be victorious with a 2-0 win at Prenton Park and Tranmere travelled to Fleetwood Town and returned with a 2-1 defeat.

The ‘festive’ period:
December was a huge month in terms of league table importance, the ‘Superwhites’ were tasked with cup progression and league result progression if they were to achieve league safety. Tranmere beat ‘non-league’ Chichester City 5-1 at home as they progressed to the third round of the famous English football competition. In the league that month, Micky Mellon’s side averaged a point per game, as they played five games. The high point of those three games was the home win against AFC Wimbledon, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy netted mid-way through the first half which settled the game as a 1-0 win. On the other hand, the low point came on Boxing Day at Burton Albion. The travelling faithful would see a 4-2 defeat, as a ‘thriller’ at the Pirelli stadium had the home team displaying more quality than their opponents. This game, as well as the many before that, made it evident that the squad lacked quality and a greatly successful January transfer window would be needed to provide safety.

A successful transfer window, a FA Cup success story. League form needed to improve quickly:
In the January window, Rovers made many new successful signings. This would factorise into the form seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Peter Clarke and Luke Mcculough joined on free transfers whilst Andy Cook, Alex Woodyard, James Vaughan and Morgan Feeney signed a loan deal until the season’s end. This was an incredibly successful January window, that was mirrored in the positivity shown by the Tranmere faithful when the season ended. Departing the club on a loan deal was forward Paul Mullin, who joined Cambridge United on the final day of the window (January 31st).January came a FA Cup success story, after the recent progression in the great cup competition Micky Mellon’s men were the ball out of the cup draw to face Watford at Vicarage Road. In ‘Istanbul’ fashion, Watford led 3-0 at half time yet Tranmere’s consistent comeback ability was put to the test and again it became evident as the ‘Hornets’ were stung. Tranmere drew 3-3 and set up a great money spinning tie at home to the premier league opposition. They would win at Prenton Park 2-1, with goals from Emmanuel Monthe and Paul Mullin. This set up a great home cup tie against Manchester United, as money was pumped into the club’s finances with a sold-out prenton park and a game televised on BT Sport cameras. The result against Manchester United showed the distance in quality, ‘The red devils’ won six goals to nil. However, the money seen surrounding the game was more important. In the league, Tranmere’s start to a new decade wasn’t successful as they lost three games and drew one. The most humiliating defeat came on New Years Day, 4-1 at home against Coventry City despite beating them less than three months previous.

The growing desperation for quality to become bedded in, it’s finally bedded:
This poor form was carried on in February, as the new successful signings needed time to bed in and truly show their worth. A surprising defeat at Bolton following a positive transfer window came before a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Prenton Park in mid-week against Doncaster Rovers. A defeat against Portsmouth and Wycombe followed, in the midst of a draw at home to Bristol Rovers. 25th February 2020 came the turning point, as youthful pacey winger Corey Blackett-Taylor netted in the 95th minute at Shrewsbury Town in a 3-2 away victory. This game proved that the newly signed players had bed in to play well together and to play with the comeback ability and ‘ubi fides’ motto that is adopted by the Merseyside club.

A ‘season’ cut short as soon as the quality was put on show:
In March, two games were played until the season was brought to the halt following the unwelcome arrival of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Those two games saw two great wins, 2-1 at Blackpool and Accrington Stanley saw Tranmere having a great run of form and this grew positivity in the terraces. The Tranmere faithful had their optimistic thoughts renewed. The fixtures set to follow were: home encounters against Milton Keynes and Lincoln City, the away encounters saw Tranmere travel to AFC Wimbledon and Rochdale.

OPINION
Personally, I believe with the growing optimism and quality bedded into the side that Tranmere would’ve stayed up if the league season was completed as the squad’s quality improved immensely following the January window. The defence was strengthened with the leadership qualities and strength of veteran Peter Clarke who would partner the centre-half area with the returning Mark Ellis, in midfield Luke Mcculough and Alex Woodyard would start a great partnership with strength and the ability to dominate the oppositions midfield and up-front James Vaughan grew a great partnership with Morgan Ferrier as the pair would contribute goals and assists. This all came to fruition as Rovers travelled to the ‘Wham’ stadium as well as Bloomfield Road and left with all three points. The following games were against nearby, in the league positions, opponents such as AFC Wimbledon and Milton Keynes. Thus, it was a great shame to see the season end in the way it did when Mellon was on the verge of a new great wave with a solid Tranmere eleven.

The ‘players ‘end of season awards’ came a few months later, as the possibility of finishing the season grew slim. The video was hosted by Ray Stubbs and had small talking features from Mark and Nicola Palios.
Young player of the season: Corey Blackett-Taylor.
Goal of the season: Ollie Banks v Peterborough United.
Unsung hero award: Janice Monty.
Norman Wilson award: Santini group.
Players player season award: Liam Ridehalgh.
Player of the season award: Kieron Morris.

The awful outbreak of the Coronavirus and what this meant for football. What have Tranmere done throughout it?
The awful outbreak of Covid-19 postponed competitive sport globally, starting with the premier league clash between Manchester City and Arsenal at the ‘Etihad’ following Mikel Arteta’s announcement that he had the illness. Since then, many have come forward and announced their battle with the illness such as Chelsea forward Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers. I would like to send my best wishes to those fighting their terrible battles and send condolences to the families who have lost loved one due to it. The first I saw of the illness, within Tranmere, was when everyone involved with competitive fixtures were asked to avoid shaking hands and aim to place elbow to elbows as a sign of sportsmanship respect. This came at the ‘Wham’ stadium, where Tranmere would beat Accrington Stanley 2-1. Tranmere’s last game of the ‘season’ came at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday 10th March, fortunately they would win and send the away terrace into great satisfaction upon their journey home. Three months on, Tranmere’s relegation was announced. The EFL chose to ask league one teams ‘How would you like to end the season?’Many responded with ending the season on a points-per-game basis as this meant they wouldn’t lose money if they chose to play games without fans. However, Tranmere’s owner Mark Palios stated many times that the ‘P-P-G’ option was flawed as teams hadn’t faced all of the qualities that opponents had and drew up a proposal for a season curtail that would see no relegations. This proposal was turned down by the EFL upon asking clubs the options for a season closure. One thing that baffles me is how clubs can choose to not play on but to play on in play-off fixtures, in my opinion if you are to say no to playing on that should count for all games. Upon the announcement of Tranmere’s relegation, twenty staff within the club lost their money and the owner drew up a statement saying they would take the EFL to court, if they had to, to fight a legal case as the relegation could mean up to a loss of £1million which is an incredible amount of money especially within a climate of poor finances due to the covid-19 pandemic.
One positive from the break is that with the contributions from the investment of the ‘Santini group’, Tranmere were able to afford a new pitch described as being ‘Premier league quality’. It will be very interesting to see a new wave of Tranmere fighting for their return to league one on a wonderful pitch. Despite the growing negative feeling towards the EFL and football in general, let’s all support the club in the wishes of the great owners we have in the way we have been doing for a long time.

Throughout the summer, I will be keeping you up to date with transfer news and other Tranmere-related write-ups in this very frustrating but interesting period of time.

Thank you, stay safe.

TRANMERE ROVERS v boreham wood – where are they now?

The 2017/18 season was of great importance for the club as a whole, being a National league club meant having some slight financial difficulties. This brought fears about the closure of the academy, which had produced great players before such as Aaron Creswell. Tranmere had a successful 16/17 campaign, achieving 95 league points, yet they still couldn’t achieve promotion as Micky Mellon’s side were beaten comfortably at Wembley against Forest Green Rovers in a play-off final. Thus, the following season was crucial. In the summer, Mellon managed to sign players of great importance such as Larnell Cole and Ollie Norburn. These signings would feature in Tranmere’s disastrous start to the season as defeats against Eastleigh and Dover brought the club to its worst ever position. However, the team’s newly found great form would fire themselves up the table before Christmas with wins against Halifax and Sutton. In the transfer window of January 2018, many influential stars were signed on loan: Rhys Taylor, Manny Monthe, Ollie Banks, Dylan Mottley-Henry and Josh Ginnely. These loanees would be pivotal to Tranmere’s promotion as the club finished in second to set up a play-off semi-final victory against Ebbsfleet United which fired them into another play-off final, this time against Boreham Wood.

Manager:
Micky Mellon – (Tranmere) – Manager Micky Mellon left Shrewsbury Town on 6 October 2016, after a poor start to the season and was appointed manager of Tranmere Rovers. He had previously managed Fleetwood Town before being appointed the Shrewsbury Town manager. During his reign at the club he had taken Fleetwood from the Conference north to League two and Shrewsbury from league two to league one. Thus the Tranmere owner, Mark Palios, had full faith in his managerial appointment. In his first season at the club, he guided the team to a play-off final against Forest Green Rovers. Unfortunately, Tranmere would lose this game 3-1. The following two seasons brought consecutive promotions, in a play-off final against Boreham Wood and a play-off final against Newport County. Mellon is still the manager of the Merseyside outfit whom he had previously experienced two playing spells at, between 1997-99 and 2001-04. Mellon was a midfielder and amassed more than 170 appearances in his Tranmere playing career.

Starting eleven:
Scott Davies (Tranmere) – On 30 June 2015, goalkeeper Scott Davies signed for Gary Brabin’s Tranmere on a one-year-contract. He had previously played for: Morecambe, Fleetwood Town and Accrington Stanley. His first season would be Tranmere’s first season in the national league. He would appear regularly for three seasons, in Tranmere’s fight for promotion to the football league. He had built an excellent relationship with manager Micky Mellon and the captain Steve Mcnulty, having all been together previously at Fleetwood Town. Davies was a great part of Tranmere’s consecutive promotions and is still a valuable figure in the Tranmere dressing-room, he was named captain just before the 2019/20 season started. His performance excelled in the two play-off finals, against Boreham Wood and against Newport County. He also played in the play-off final defeat against Forest Green Rovers in 2017. The fan-favourite is now captain and will soon reach the five-year mark.

Emmanuel Monthe (Tranmere) – In February 2018, defender Emmanuel Monthe joined Tranmere after signing a loan deal. He appeared six times, during the loan spell, before signing a permanent contract after Tranmere paid Forest Green Rovers an undisclosed fee. Before he signed for Tranmere, he had starred for many different non-league clubs. Southport, Hayes and Yeading United as well as Bath City. His talent was shown on a regular basis for the first time during his two year spell at Forest Green Rovers, where he played a part in their promotion to the football league in a play-off final against Tranmere. Throughout his stay at Tranmere, he has excelled at full-back and centre-half whilst becoming a fan favourite and achieving two consecutive promotions.
Steve Mcnulty (York) – Centre-half veteran Steve Mcnulty joined National-league outfit Tranmere Rovers on loan on 19 October 2015, a great reason for his move from Luton was the location as he wanted to be closer to his family who lived in Liverpool. He had previously starred for: Vauxhall Motors, Barrow, Fleetwood Town and Luton. After excelling on loan, he signed for the club permanently in the January transfer window. He received many man-of-the-match awards as well as the player of the month award for February as his defensive displays fired Tranmere into the national league play-off positions. The following season, he made 45 appearances and became club captain. However, the team would lose against Forest Green Rovers in the play-off final. He would captain the team to promotion to the football league, with a 2-1 win against Boreham Wood as he made 41 appearances throughout the course of the season. The following season, he made slightly less appearances as he battled with fitness issues. However, his performance against Newport County after he came on as a sub late on into the first half was a great reason for Tranmere’s promotion to league one in a play-off final. He was released in the summer before his move to the National league north to play for York city.
Ritchie Sutton (Morecambe) – Defender Ritchie Sutton signed a two-year contract with newly-relegated Tranmere in May 2015. He had previously starred for clubs such as Stafford Rangers, Port Vale (the club he supports having grown up in Burslem) and Mansfield Town. He was sent off in the second month of the season against Welling United; this decision was overturned. The centre-half started regularly until Mcnulty and Ihiekwe formed a solid partnership in December 2015, Sutton would soon join Barrow in March 2016 until the end of the season. Sutton, in an interview, stated that new manager Micky Mellon ‘has improved me defensively’ in an interview. In the 16/17 season he made 27 appearances and scored four times. His season was cut short due to an achilles injury. In the 17/18 season, he made 49 appearances and scored five times. He was taken off before half-time during the play-off final victory against Boreham Wood due to an injury. In the 2018/19 season, the defender made 9 appearances before being signed by Morecambe, to the delight of manager Jim Bentley, in January 2019. He is still currently at Morecambe.
Liam Ridehalgh (Tranmere) – On 28 September 2013, full-back Liam Ridehalgh joined Tranmere on a 3-month loan from Huddersfield. He would make his debut against Port Vale on the same day. However, his game time was cut short following a red card in the 30th minute. Port Vale would go on to win 1-0 at Prenton Park. During his loan spell, he would make 17 appearances and score one goal which came against Bristol City on 16 November. The Halifax-born defender would rejoin Tranmere on 1 January 2014, he became available for the New Year’s Day game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Weeks later he would suffer a groin injury during a game against Peterborough and be substituted at half-time. He made his return ,one month later, in a win against MK. However, although he made 38 appearances during the season, he was unable to help the club survive relegation. Ridehalgh suffered an ankle injury in a pre-season game before the 14/15 season which would take him out of action for six weeks. After three months out, he would make his first appearance of the season against AFC Wimbledon. The full-back ended the season with only 18 appearances as Tranmere suffered relegation to the National league. Ridehalgh would be a regular starter in the Tranmere defence during the three National league seasons, managing to maintain a good standard of quality. In the play-off final against Boreham Wood he would be sent off after thirty seconds. He would play a great part in Tranmere’s promotion to league two in the following season and is currently still at Tranmere.

Josh Ginnelly (Preston) – On 12 January 2018, winger Josh Ginelly signed a loan deal at Tranmere until the end of the season. He had previously starred for Altrincham and Lincoln, on loan from Burnley. Ginelly scored his first Tranmere goal on his debut against Maidenhead, eight days after joining the club. He lost his starting place between mid March-mid April, he returned to the starting eleven on 21 April 2018 in a win against Halifax Town at the Shay stadium. In the play-off semi final, Ginelly scored in a 4-2 win at Prenton Park against Ebbsfleet United. On 12 May 2018, he started the whole game against Boreham Wood and helped to ensure Tranmere’s promotion and return to the football league. He has since signed for Walsall and Preston North End, he still plays his football at the Deepdale stadium.
Ollie Norburn (Shrewsbury) – Central-Midfielder Ollie Norburn signed a two-year contract with Tranmere on 31 May 2017. He had previously made appearances for: Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Guiseley and Macclesfield Town. Norburn had been offered a new contract at Macclesfield Town yet he believed signing for Tranmere had a better chance of enhancing his career. Throughout the 17/18 season he made 46 appearances, scoring four and assisting four. His presence in central-midfield was a great factor in Tranmere’s promotion to the football league. He was a solid central-midfielder with an eye for a great forward pass. In the summer of 2018, Shrewsbury signed the Mancunian midfielder for an undisclosed fee. He is currently still at the League one outfit.
Jeff Hughes (Larne) – In January 2016, central midfielder Jeff Hughes signed a loan deal at Tranmere until the end of the season. The 30-year-old midfielder had previously starred regularly for: Larne, Lincoln City, Bristol Rovers, Notts County, Fleetwood Town before signing for Cambridge United. He would impress manager Gary Brabin during his loan spell, making 18 appearances and scoring one goal. The Northern Irishman would sign a two-year-deal with them in the July of 2016. Through the following two seasons, he would establish himself as a regular in the middle of the Prenton Park pitch. He would make 67 appearances overall and play a great part in Tranmere’s promotion to the football league. In the summer of 2018, the midfielder would sign for his hometown NIFL club ,Larne, on a three-year-deal. He still plays his football at Larne’s Inver Park stadium.
Larnell Cole (FC United of Manchester) – On 27 October 2017, forward Larnell Cole signed for Tranmere on a deal until January 2018. The Manchester United academy product had previously starred for Shrewsbury Town and Inverness. Cole made his Tranmere debut the following day against Halifax Town, he would score after coming on as a substitute in a 4-2 win at Prenton Park. Cole extended his Tranmere contract until the end of the season, he was a great factor in Tranmere’s promotion to the football league as he scored the fourth goal against Ebbsfleet United in the play-off semi final. He would sign a further deal in the summer of 2018 after playing a great part in Tranmere’s promotion. However, the mancunian-born midfielder would leave by mutual consent in January 2019. The tricky 27-year-old forward currently plays for FC United of Manchester.

Andy Cook (Mansfield/Tranmere) – On 1 July 2016 striker Andy Cook signed a two-year-deal at Tranmere. He had previously played for: Workington, Barrow and Grimsby Town. In his first season, he scored 23 goals in 44 appearances, his many goals helped Tranmere reach a great 95 points. However, this point tally only resulted in a play-off position and after beating Aldershot in the play-off semi-finals they would lose against Forest Green in the final. The following season, he scored 26 goals in 41 appearances. Cook would win the league’s golden boot in the 17/18 season whilst he helped Tranmere achieve promotion to the football league. The north-eastern born striker scored in the play-off final victory against Boreham Wood. When his contract expired, he signed for League one outfit Walsall. After scoring 17 goals in 43 appearances, he signed for League two Mansfield town. In January 2020, Cook re-joined Tranmere on a loan deal until the summer.
James Norwood (Ipswich) – On 13 May 2015, Norwood signed a two-year-contract at Tranmere following his release from Forest Green. He was initially troubled with injury yet found the net against Chester in mid-September. In his first season, the Eastbourne-born striker scored 19 times in 38 appearances. He was less prolific in his second season, managing to score 14 times in 40 appearances. He scored many important goals throughout this season, including a dramatic injury time winner at home to Eastleigh. His third season was his most successful yet, following a very poor opening to the season as Tranmere dropped to their lowest ever league position. Norwood finished the season with 24 goals and 11 assists, in all competitions. This was enough to finish as the league’s third highest scorer, two places behind strike partner Andy Cook. Two of Norwoods goals came in the play-off semi final against Ebbsfleet, a great low hit into the bottom corner and an exquisite top-cornered free kick. His most important Tranmere goal came on 12 May 2018, he scored the goal to regain the clubs football league status. Norwood finished the following season as the joint top scorer in English football, with 32 goals in all competitions, along with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero as Tranmere won promotion to league one. His excellent goal-scoring season saw him winning the League Two player of the year award. As soon as his contract ended, he joined League one Ipswich Town.

Bench:
Rhys Taylor (Bradford Park Avenue) – Goalkeeper, Rhys Taylor joined Tranmere on loan in 2018 following an injury to Scott Davies. He had joined on loan from AFC Fylde where he had played since 2016. The Welshman made six appearances for Tranmere, keeping two clean-sheets. Before signing on loan he had previously played for: Crewe Alexandra (on loan), Rotherham United (on loan), Macclesfield Town, Wrexhham and AFC Fylde. The 30-year-old goalkeeper now stars for Bradford Park Avenue in the National league North.
Eddie Clarke – substituted on for Larnell Cole in the 9th minute following Liam Ridehalgh’s red card – (Fleetwood) – Full-back Eddie Clarke is a product of the Tranmere academy. He made his first team debut in a win against Maidstone, in the finale of the 16/17 season. However, he would fully showcase his talent in the following season. He would play fifteen times for Tranmere and would be a great factor of the club’s promotion to the football league, as a solid defender with a great eye for an assist. Following the promotion, in a play-off final at Wembley, he would sign for Joey Barton’s Fleetwood and has since had loan spells for Macclesfield Town and Stockport County.
Jay Harris – substituted on for the injured Ritchie Sutton in the fifth minute of the first half’s added time – (Wrexham) – Central midfielder Jay Harris signed a free transfer on 22nd May 2015, his first season at the club would be Tranmere’s first season in the National league, after his contract at Wrexham ended. Before Wrexham, he had showcased his talents at: Accrington Stanley and Chester. He was a very popular figure with the fans, he would play very well in positions from central midfield to full-back and always wore his heart on his sleeve. On 27th June 2019, after helping Tranmere to consecutive promotions he would leave Merseyside for Manchester as he signed for Macclesfield Town. He now plays for Wrexham, after returning to North Wales in January on an 18-month-contract.
Connor Jennings – substituted on for Josh Ginnelly in the 34th minute – (Tranmere) – On June 2nd 2016, creative midfielder Connor Jennings signed for Tranmere on a 2-year-contract. He had previously starred for Stalybridge Celtic, Scunthorpe United and Wrexham. His career at Tranmere got off to a relatively slow start, only appearing eleven times before January. He was then loaned to Macclesfield Town, he would play five times and score once. The mancunian midfielder would return to Merseyside in the March and would soon establish himself as a first-team regular, his excellent end-of season form saw him excell in the 9-0 demolition of Solihull Moors at Prenton Park as he scored a hat-trick. He would score an exquisite top-corner goal in the play-off final defeat against Forest Green Rovers, one month later. In the following season, he would play a great part in Tranmere’s promotion to the football league. The midfielder made 43 appearances in the 2017/18 season which he scored eight goals and provided many assists for the excellent James Norwood and Andy Cook partnership. His best assist of the season was in the play-off final against Boreham Wood, a week after he survived a near-death coma experience, where his exquisite cross would meet the head of James Norwood and fire Tranmere into the football league. He would carry this form on into the following season, scoring eight goals in 45 appearances as Tranmere achieved consecutive promotions and returned to League one. He scored the only goal a year later in a play-off final against Newport County, in the 119th minute. Fan-favourite Connor Jennings is in his fourth year at Prenton Park.
Andy Mangan (N/A) – Striker Andy Mangan joined Gary Brabin’s Tranmere on 2nd July 2015. He had previously starred for: Accrington Stanley, Bury, Forest Green, Wrexham, Fleetwood and Shrewsbury. He scored seven goals in the first half of the season but lost his place in the team due to injury and the manager’s preferred position of 4-5-1 where James Norwood would be the lone striker. Thus, he re-joined Shrewsbury Town in the January transfer window. The striker would rejoin Micky Mellon’s Tranmere for an undisclosed fee on 4 November 2016. He would make 25 appearances, scoring three goals, before being released in 2018 following Tranmere’s promotion to the football league. Towards the end of the season, he would become a fan-favourite due to his memorable hilarious speech at the players’ end of season awards night and his powerful speech to fans at a drinking area in the stadium following Tranmere’s promotion. He has since signed for Welsh club Bala Town and Accrington Stanley, he is currently without a club.

This team would go on to beat Boreham Wood 2-1, James Norwood scoring the crucial winning goal in the 81st minute after rising the highest from a Connor Jennings’ cross and sending the ball into the bottom corner. The team would encounter many difficulties throughout the game: Liam Ridehalgh received a red card in the first minute and all substitutions were made before half-time. For regaining Tranmere’s football league status with a showing of great character, everyone associated with the club that day will be seen as ‘heroes’ due to the great memories and happiness that they brought to the Tranmere faithful.

Who are they?

Who are they? 

Stockport 0 Tranmere 3 – 2010

Yesterday, 8th May 2020, saw the ten year anniversary of the crucial away match against Stockport County. Both clubs had suffered poor seasons and a win for either club would result in survival and would relegate the opponent. I decided to take a look into the careers of the Tranmere manager and team from that day and take a look into the careers of the Stockport County players who would soon represent Tranmere.  

Tranmere finished the previous season away at Scunthorpe. Ronnie Moore’s ‘SuperWhite Army’ needed a win to reach the play offs, they were two minutes away from achieving this result. Craig Curran’s goal just before half-time made the many travelling supporters excited for the near future. The excitement was cruelly taken away after Scunthorpe equalised in the 88th minute through Byrne’s goal after a corner. This goal would fire the hosts into the play-offs as Tranmere agonisingly missed out. In the summer. Ronnie Moore would leave his managerial role as Jamaican forward John Barnes was appointed manager. Barnes would only manage fourteen games, he had Jason McAteer as his assistant. Tranmere would only win three of these games, Barnes’ culminating match would be a 5-0 defeat against Milwall. Long-standing physio Les Parry was announced as caretaker manager, he was appointed permanent manager in the December, he would win eighteen points during his caretaker manager role. The fight for survival would come to the final game of the season, away at Stockport County.  

Manager:

Les Parry – Was 52, Now 62 – Birkenhead-born Les Parry was a physiotherapist, he had worked at Tranmere in this role since 1991, before taking his first managerial role at the club in 2009. During this time, in 2006, he released a christmas album for charity called ‘I’m Les the White legs parry’ in the tune of ‘Red nose reindeer’.  He would achieve survival in the 09/10 season before finishing 18th the following season and being awarded the Liverpool echo special award for Outstanding Service to Sport. In the 10/11 season he completed the amazing feat of attending 1001 consecutive first team matches. He was well-known for his attire, wearing shorts and a t-shirt on the sidelines in the coldest of weathers. He would be dismissed in the March of 2012, although having a good start to the season. Parry was appointed physiotherapist at Accrington Stanley before taking a role at Manchester United to work with the development and academy squads. In October 2014, Parry was awarded the prestigious Fabrice Muamba award for Medical and Sports professional of the year.  

Starting eleven:

Peter Gulacsi – Was aged 20, now 30 – It was the 16th of April in 2010 that Gulacsi joined Tranmere, on an emergency seven-day loan deal. He would make his debut, the following day, against Exeter City in a 3-1 win. His loan was subsequently extended for an additional seven days and into a third week. He re-joined Tranmere on a one-month emergency loan deal on 17th September in the same year, after Tranmere’s two experienced goalkeepers in Gunar Nielsen and Simon Miotto were ruled out with injuries. His loan deal was extended into a second month before he would return to Liverpool. He made no appearances for Liverpool. However, he would join Red Bull Salzburg in 2013 before signing for Red Bull Leipzig in 2015. He is a regular starter for the German giants who compete in the Champions League.

Shay Logan – Was 22, now 32 – Logan would sign a one-year loan deal for Tranmere on 24th of July in 2009, after signing a new contract at Manchester City. It was the 8th of August that he made his Tranmere debut, in a 2-0 loss against Yeovil. Logan established himself in the starting eleven, with thanks to his great performance against Gillingham where as he made two goal assists. However, he would then injure his hernia which he would require an operation on, resulting in him missing out on most of the season. Fortunately, Logan made his debut against Colchester United in a 1-1 draw and would play in the final two games before returning to Manchester City. Shay Logan would make one appearance for City. He signed for Brentford one year after his return to Manchester, he would start 90 games for them between 2011-2014 and now plays in the Scottish Premier League for Aberdeen.

Ian Goodison – Was 37, Now 47 – The Jamaican defender is a Tranmere legend. He was signed by Brian Little in February of 2004 and played in the heart of defence. He would go on to make more than 400 appearances for Tranmere. He was named supporters’ player of the season three times and the North West League One Footballer of the Year another three times. He played in the Tranmere team that reached the FA Cup quarter final in his first season, in his second season the team would finish third in league one and enter the play-offs. He was the first player to play for Tranmere past the age of forty.  On 9th December 2013 it was reported that he had been arrested as part of a police investigation into match fixing, those charges were later dropped. In May 2015 his testimonial was held at Prenton Park, a game that names such as: Ricardo Fuller, Ricardo Gardner, Eugene Dadi, John Achteberg and Fabrice Muamba all played in. The game was officiated by the Premier League referee, Mike Dean. His career would come to an end at Tranmere.

Ash Taylor – Was 19, Now 29 – Ash Taylor was a product of the academy, he joined Tranmere at the age of 10. In January 2009, he signed his first professional Tranmere deal. He joined Colwyn Bay on loan in the same year. Taylor made his first team debut in a League one match against Scunthorpe, in a 1-1 away draw on 2nd May 2009. He replaced Antony Kay as a substitute in the 89th minute. His first league goal for Tranmere came on 26th January 2010, Tranmere beat Yeovil 2-1. At the end of the season he won the ‘Young player of the season’ award. Following his 50th appearance for the club, manager Les Parry said the defender had the attributes to become the future Tranmere captain. Taylor would go on to sign for Aberdeen in the summer of 2014, after declining the offer of a new Tranmere contract in a pre-season that came after Tranmere’s relegation to League Two. He would go on to make more than 100 appearances for Aberdeen before signing for Northampton where he would spend two seasons before his return to the Scottish Premier League in his second Aberdeen spell.

Marlon Broomes – Was 32, Now 42 – On 9 June 2009, Blackpool confirmed that defender Marlon Broomes was going to be released. Two months later, he would sign for Tranmere on a non-contract basis. He would make his Tranmere debut three days later, 11 August 2009, against Grimsby Town in the first leg of the League Cup in a 4-0 win. Broomes signed a permanent one-year deal Tranmere signed on 1 September 2009. Broomes would be a regular starter in the Tranmere defence and would score his first goal in a 2-1 win against Southampton on 6 March 2010. After an impressive second half of the season, he was offered another one-year deal. At the end of the 10/11 season he wasn’t offered another Tranmere contract, he would sign for non-league club Clitheroe. He would go on to play for Altrincham on nine occasions before retiring in 2012. 

Zoumana Bakayogo – Was 23, Now 33 – On 1 September 2009, it was announced that Tranmere had signed Bakayogo on a free transfer until January 2010. He had a successful start at Tranmere with two man-of-the-match performances, his debut came on 12 October 2009 in a 1-0 win against Stockport County, because of this the speculation was rife of the defender leaving in the January window as several clubs were showing interest in him. Two of the clubs mentioned were Leeds United and Southampton. However, he signed another contract at Tranmere to keep him at the club until the end of the season. He would continue to be a regular starter for the club and kept his ability to score goals as he assisted a goal in the pivotal game at Stockport. Bakayogo would sign a one-year-contract at the end of the season however he found himself on the bench due to the great form of academy graduate Aaron Creswell. Bakayogo returned to a regular starting place after Creswell’s injury. He would sign a two-year-deal in the summer. However, it was a new player that kept him away from the starting eleven .. David Buchanan. He would miss most of the season through injury concerns yet would appear as a substitute towards the latter part of the season. In the second year of his contract he would return to the regular start, following the departure of Buchanan. He would have a successful season: making fifty-two appearances, scoring give goals and receiving the fans and players player of the season award. He would sign for Leicester in the summer of 2013 yet wouldn’t start regularly until he joined Crewe Alexandra in 2016. He would return to Tranmere in 2018, he would be back up for full-back Liam Ridehalgh as Tranmere were promoted to league one through the play-offs. He now features for Neal Ardley’s Notts County in the National League.

Gareth Edds – Was 29, Now 39 – Australian midfielder Gareth Edds joined Tranmere in June 2008 on a two-year contract. He would make more than 70 appearances in 2 years. When the contract ended, it was announced that Edds wouldn’t be offered a new contract as he had signed for A-League side North Queensland Fury.

Andy Robinson – Was 30, Now 40 – Robinson began his football career at Merseyside non-league club Cammell Laird, he was recruited for Tranmere in December 2002. However, he wouldn’t make an appearance for Rovers. The forward was signed by Swansea City in 2003 where he would be a regular starter for five years. He signed for Leeds United in 2008, he would spend two years at Elland Road but would have a loan spell at Tranmere in 2010. He returned to Tranmere on a permanent-basis in 2011. He played regularly. Robinson scored his first career hat-trick in August 2012, against Carlisle. The forward got off to a flying start, he helped Tranmere to the summit of the table with the club’s best start in their history. However, he would encounter many injury concerns from January 2013 onwards. He would soon sign for Shrewsbury Town before moving to Stockport County. He now features for Welsh club Ammanford.

Joss Labadie – Was 19, Now 29 – On 24 March 2010, Labadie signed for Tranmere until the end of the season. He made his debut in a 3-0 defeat away at Brighton. He would score three goals, one being in the pivotal away game at Stockport as Tranmere survived relegation by one point. He would be released by West Brom in the summer of 2010 and would sign a two-year-deal at Tranmere. He was a first team regular yet he was plagued by injuries. Labadie made 37 appearances and scored twice in his first permanent season, where he was labelled as a diver due to his actions away at MK. In the 2011/12 season, Labadie started the season well, he scored four goals. However, he would soon be a regular on the sidelines due to a foot injury. He was released at the end of the season. He has since played for: Notts County, Torquay (where he was charged by the FA for a bite on current Tranmere midfielder Ollie Banks in a game against Chesterfield), Dagenham and Newport (where he faced Tranmere in a league two play off final).

Bas Savage – Was 28, Now 38 – On 9 July 2008, forward Bas Savage would sign a two-year-contract at Tranmere. He scored a goal on his debut, away to Swindon Town, on the opening day of the season. He would go on to make 55 appearances for Tranmere and score 9 goals. In the summer of 2010, it was announced that Savage wouldn’t be offered a new contract. He has since represented: Dagenham, Northampton and TOT (who play in Thailand).

Ian ThomasMoore – Was 23, Now 33 – Birkenhead born Moore began his career at Tranmere, he broke into the first team as a teenaged academy graduate, he would make more than 50 appearances. He had a short spell on loan at Bradford where he gained more first team experience. He had clear quality, many believed he was destined to play at a higher level. He would go on to represent: Nottingham Forest, Stockport, Burnley, Leeds and Hartlepool before returning to Tranmere. On 31 January 2008 he joined his father and manager Ronnie Moore, for an undisclosed fee.He scored on his debut against Leeds in a 2-0 victory. He continued to score (he scored eleven by the end of the season) and would be partnered up-front with Chris Greenacre in a team that missed out of the play-offs on the final day of the season. Moore impressed in the following season, he scored 15 goals, scoring in crucial home games against Millwall and the pivotal Stockport finale. He was awarded the player of the season award. In August 2010, manager Les Parry revealed that Moore had submitted a transfer request after being approached again by his father, at Rotherham United.  

Sub (92nd minute):

Craig Curran – Was 20, Now 30 – Curran was born and raised in Liverpool. He is a product of the Tranmere youth system, signing his first professional contract in 2006. In that year, he was top scorer for the reserve side. Curran’s first team debut came on 13 January 2007, he came on as a sub in the 84th minute. He scored with his first ever senior touch at Prenton Park on 9 April 2007. On 5 May 2007, Curran scored three times in the first 36 minutes to record his first hat-trick for the club as Tranmere beat Brentford 3-1 at Prenton Park. This hat trick broke a club record set by Dixie Dean in 1924, the youngest player to score a hat-trick in a Rovers shirt. He finished his first senior with four goals in four games, two of the games being as a substitute. Curran would sign a three-year-contract in the summer. He would end his first regular starting season with forty appearances and two goals. He would end the next season having made sixteen appearances and scoring three times, one goal in the season finale away at Scunthorpe. His third season ended with fifty appearances and six goals. He left in the summer of 2010. He has since represented: Carlisle, Rochdale, Limerick and Nuneaton before playing football in Scotland. In Scotland he has represented: Ross County and both Dundee clubs on Tannadice street. He now plays for Welsh club Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Players that remained on the bench:

Andy Coughlin – Was 17, Now 27 – Goalkeeper Coughlin was a product of Tranmere’s youth system. In April 2011, he signed his first professional contract on a one-year contract. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Hartlepool on 21 April 2012. He was released at the end of the season. He has since regularly represented: Wrexham, Southport and Airbus. He now plays for Colwyn Bay.  

Aaron Creswell – Was 20, Now 30 –  Born in Liverpool, Creswell is a product of Tranmere’s youth system. He signed his first professional contract in July 2008. He made his first-team debut in a 1-0 loss against Milton Keynes on 1 November 2008. He started regularly, he made over 70 appearances between 2008-2011. Although he was offered a new contract by the club in the summer of 2011 manager Les Parry said ‘I don’t think he will sign as there are a number of Championship clubs after his signature’. He started regularly for Ipswich Town for three years before signing a premier league deal in 2014 for West Ham United. He is a regular starter for West Ham in the Premier league and has represented England’s senior team on three occasions.  

Chris McCready – Was 28, Now 38 – The defender signed a one year contract at Tranmere in the summer of 2007, after impressing on trial. He established himself as a regular in the Tranmere defence, playing in all but four of the club’s league games. He re-joined Crewe at the end of the season. In January 2010, he re-joined Tranmere on loan for the remainder of the season. In July 2010 he signed a two year deal at Morecambe where he would feature regularly for four seasons, he is now retired.  

Charlie Barnett – Was 21, Now 31 – Barnett is a product of Liverpool’s youth system. He signed for Tranmere on a one year contract on 1 August 2008, signing his first professional contract in the process. Barnett made his debut for Tranmere away to Swindon Town, in a 3-1 league defeat on 9 August 2008. His first senior goal came against Peterborough on 17 February 2009 in a 1-1 draw. He would soon score a vital goal against Oldham. He was named the club’s young player of the season: he made thirty-three appearances and scored three goals. He signed a new one year contract in the summer of 2009, he was soon released. He has since regularly featured for Accrington Stanley and AFC Telford. He is now retired.

Players for Stockport that made a name at Tranmere:

Owain Fon Williams (sub) – Was 23, Now 33 –  Welsh goalkeeper Fon Williams appeared on Stockport’s bench. One year later, he signed a two year contract at Tranmere. He made his Rovers debut in the first game of the season, starting against Chesterfield, as Tranmere won 1-0. He spent four seasons at Tranmere, appearing on more than 150 occasions and experiencing relegations from league one to the national league. He has since represented Inverness and is currently at Hamilton. He has made one appearance for his country, Wales. 

David Perkins – Was 27, Now 37 – Midfielder David Perkins played for Stockport in that pivotal game. He had signed a loan deal in the previous January. He represented: Barnsley, Blackpool, Wigan and Rochdale before moving to Tranmere in 2019. He signed for Tranmere in the January transfer window of 2019 with the main aim of promotion to league one, that aim was reached with a win at Wembley in a league two play off final against Newport. He is currently at Tranmere. 

—————————————————————————————————————————

Statistics for Stockport County 0 v 3 Tranmere:

Possession – 47% – 53%

Attempts on target – 5 – 7

Attempts off target – 4 – 6

Corners – 6 – 7

Fouls – 7 – 7

Jonathon Margetts – INTERVIEW:

The story of the man behind the nickname ‘Trialist H’.

Jonathon Margetts grew up in South Yorkshire, in the minster town of Doncaster and from an early age supported Manchester United as they were the club that his dad would take him to watch every weekend until the young forward started to devote his Saturdays to playing football. Jonathon’s earliest memory of football was when he, his dad and his godfather would play football every night on the fields behind his house, this is where his competitiveness and eagerness to improve his football ability was found, ‘I used to cry because they’d never let me win’. However, he admits that the desired profession wasn’t always to be a footballer ‘The plan was always to be a doctor, due to being very academic at school; my mum was gutted when I chose football instead of continuing my education’. Passed on from his father, his love for football meant he was knowledgeable about the sport, he says ‘I knew about Tranmere, I just didn’t realize how big the club was, I had played at Prenton Park once before with Hull reserves’.

In the summer of 2012, the forward would sign his first professional contract at Hull City as he came through as an academy graduate. However, Jonathon’s greatest learning curve came when he played for non-league Gainsborough; he says ‘I definitely learnt the most at Gainsborough. I was 20 at the time and it was my very first taste of men’s football. I played 13 games and scored 10 goals, it turned me into a man’.

Following his loan spell at Gainsborough, Margetts had loan spells at Harrogate Town and Cambridge United. It was in the summer of 2015, when the 22 year old forward first heard of Gary Brabin’s interest for him to join the newly relegated national league club of Tranmere Rovers. ‘I first learnt of Tranmere’s interest when I was on holiday. I was close to signing for Doncaster Rovers but I felt that I had more of a playing opportunity at Tranmere’. The South Yorkshire born forward looks back in slight regret of this decision ‘Looking back now, I probably made a mistake as I’d have played a lot more at Doncaster but my decision to join Tranmere was a decision that I felt was right at the time’.

The Tranmere manager that brought Margetts to the club was the newly appointed Gary Brabin. ‘I was surprised when I first met the manager, I’d heard that he was a hard physco but he was really the opposite, he was softly spoken and hardly ever lost his temper with the team. He was a good man and someone who I liked a lot’. Jonathon believes ‘The problem was that he was too friendly with some players and the lads knew it, the atmosphere in the dressing room was sometimes very awkward’. Margetts’ first game was a friendly against a Wirral based non-league club of Vauxhall Motors, he scored four goals and was named ‘Trialist H’. ‘Before the game at Vauxhall, I’d been training with Tranmere for a week, but it’s never easy playing a game without knowing all of the names and how they play’. ‘The game at Vauxhall was a bit of a mad game, I played well and I managed to score four goals, I was pleased with my performance’. However, a contract was only offered to the forward after his second pre-season game. ‘I signed a contract at a time that was difficult for Tranmere fans, they had recently experienced back to back relegations so were understandably frustrated and the players could tell’. Going into the season, the forward believed that the expectation of promotion was reachable ‘When the season started, I expected us to get promoted. I’d never played in the league before and was slightly arrogant thinking the league would be easier than it was. It’s such a hard league and there were some really good players in it. I don’t know how our squad compared with others but I thought the quality we had was strong’. Jonathon says that the team was quite tightly knit at the club, ‘My closest friend was winger Adam Mekki, I lived with him’. ‘There was also a car school of: I, James Norwood, Martin Riley and Ritchie Sutton we became very close through this and would go out with our partners quite a bit’. Unsurprisingly to Tranmere fans, based on his behavior at an end of season awards night, Andy Mangan provided the team with good entertainment. ‘My funniest memory was Christmas Day, we were training on the pitch at Prenton Park and we was wondering where Andy (Mangan) was, we turned around to see him running down the steps from a stand fully naked with only his boots on, he ran on the pitch and started slide tackling people, it was a great laugh’.  He believes that one factor that didn’t help the team was the understandable frustration of the fans, ‘As soon as the performance wasn’t right we were booed and I believe it was more of a reflection of the past few seasons than the past few performances’. Margetts was only a Tranmere for one season, he scored two goals (both at home to Bromley) in ten appearances and had loan spells at Stockport County, Altrincham and Southport. He is disappointed with how his time at the club went. ‘I’m definitely disappointed with how my time at the club went. I believe I was the best player throughout pre season but I didn’t kick a ball for the first three competitive games. I remember speaking to the Lincoln manager (Danny Cowley) about my frustration at Tranmere the following year, he said that they’d done a lot of analysis on me when we played them for the second game and he couldn’t believe that I didn’t play. After that I was in and out and I never managed to really put a run of games together. As a striker you need a run of games to be sharp, so it was hard’.  

In the summer of 2016, Margetts’ initial one year contract ended at Tranmere and he went on to sign for fellow promotion rivals Lincoln City. Jonathon says that he was very pleased with the management at Lincoln, ‘The Cowley’s are by far the best managers that I’ve worked for. Their attention to detail is frightening and their football knowledge is ridiculous. But above all, they’re top top people’. He goes on to explain one factor that was the difference between the Tranmere side that he played for and the Lincoln side that he won promotion with. ‘The difference between the Lincoln side to the Tranmere side that I played with wasn’t too much to do with ability. The team spirit and morale was 100 times better’. Although the forward has a lot of respect for his team mates at Tranmere he had no sympathy for them when Tranmere failed to achieve promotion and Lincoln won the league title ‘When I got promoted with Lincoln, I had no sympathy for my team mates at Tranmere. I’m sure if they had won promotion the last thing they would think of is me!’.

Margetts is now working on his previous academic skills to be successful in his newly forced role due to an unfortunate injury. ‘Unfortunately, I had to retire from professional football at the age of 24 due to a knee injury. I’ve started a physio degree and set up my own sports massage clinic, so once I’ve fully qualified I’d love to be one of the best physio’s around for sports people and private clients!’

To finish the interview, I asked him who would feature in his best starting eleven of players that he has played with and who would he like to manage his selected eleven ‘The best eleven that I have played with is: Rory Watson, Jordan Clarke, Harry Maguire, Liam Cooper, Connor Townsend, Stephen Dawson, Neal Bishop, Tom Cairney, Duane Holmes, Matt Rhead and Jarrod Bowen’ ‘I would choose the Cowley’s to manage that eleven’.

I would like to thank Jonathon Margetts for his time answering the questions that I have gave to him and wish him well in his new physio degree and sports massage clinic work!

Conference Call: Jonathan Margetts and Iain Turner join Tranmere ...

TRANMERE ROVERS V DONCASTER ROVERS – MATCH PREVIEW

Tuesday 4th February 2020:

After a run of very poor form, Micky Mellon’s ‘superwhites’ will be hoping to win their first league game since the AFC Wimbledon encounter at Prenton Park a few days previous to Christmas Day. To get their first three points on the league table since that game, they will face Darren Moore’s Doncaster Rovers. Doncaster have managed to win two of their past five league fixtures, away at Bristol Rovers and at home to Southend United. In this period, ‘Donny’ have also managed to draw at the Stadium of Light. Thus, the Tranmere eleven must be at their very best in order to pick up three points at home this Tuesday (04/02/20) night against their visitors. 

Team news:

A massive welcome back to Prenton Park will be shown by the ‘Super white army’ to Andy Cook. The forward is eligible for selection this Tuesday after signing on loan from Mansfield Town on transfer deadline day. The forward achieved 50 goals in 85 games, from season 16/17-17/18, in a national league promotion winning partnership with James Norwood when he was last at the Rovers.

Manny Monthe is available for selection after serving his one match suspension.

Corey Blackett-Taylor will be assessed ahead of the midweek fixture, Mellon will be hoping the fast forward is available for selection. 

Defenders Peter Clarke and Liam Ridehalgh remain doubtful for selection. 

Ollie Banks, Evan Gumbs and Mark Ellis all remain injured and are thus unavailable.

One to watch:

Midfielder Kieron Sadlier is the visitors ‘one to watch’, topping the Doncaster goalscoring chart with ten goals to his name.

Sadlier is a Republic of Ireland international, being capped at U17 U19 and U21 level. He turned professional at West Ham United in 2013, spending two years at the London club. 

After leaving West Ham, Sadlier represented St Mirren, Peterborough, Halifax before moving across the Irish Sea to join Sligo Rovers in 2016 before signing for Cork City.

Doncaster claimed the services of their current leading goalscorer in December 2018.

Match officials:

Lee Doughty is the ‘Man in black’ this Tuesday night. Lee has officiated 22 fixtures this season, rewarding 62 yellow cards and 2 red cards as a result of 2 yellow cards. 

The referee will be assisted by Wade Smith and Conor Brown. 

Jon Kenny is Tuesday’s fourth official. 

Past meetings:

Tranmere have met Doncaster on many occasions, seventy-five to be precise. Throughout these fixtures, Doncaster have a record a lot better than their opponents. Tranmere winning 19, Drawing 20 and losing 36. 

Tranmere’s last win against Doncaster came in February 2007, Chris Greenacre’s seperating the side’s in a ‘superwhite’ victory for another midweek game. 

Did you know? 

18th April 1924 was the first meeting between Tranmere and Doncaster, the game finished in a 3-0 win for Tranmere in the Division Three North. 

TRANMERE ROVERS V MANCHESTER UNITED – MATCH REPORT

Prenton Park and Birkenhead was an area of excitement on Sunday 26th January 2020 as Tranmere hosted Ole Gunar Solksjaer’s supergiants Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup, following on from a 2-1 home win against Watford that required the use of extra time to set up the fourth round tie. Micky Mellon’s side looked to carry on the performance the other night in which the effort shown by the superwhites was a massive factor in progressing into the later round of the competition, Solksjaer’s side were simply looking to refresh and reach the later rounds of a competition to show some pride in a season where they have struggled in the premier league. 

The rovers would dominate the opening ten minutes: Ferrier driving into the box and forcing a corner, Jennings’ volley being caught by United goalkeeper Romero, Morris having a shot blocked, Ferrier’s cross forcing a corner. However, United defended all opportunities well and capitalised on a lapse of Rovers concentration as centre-back Harry Maguire arrowed the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out. 

Full-back Diogo Dalot would soon double the visitors lead, firing low into the bottom corner from inside the box.

The goals kept on coming for the visitors, Jesse Lingard curling past Davies into the top corner of the net. 

For the next ten minutes, whilst the visiting fans sung anti Woodward and Glazer songs whilst letting off green and yellow pyros, Ferrier and Blackett-Taylor would cause problems for the rich Manchester United defence. Ferrier running at Jones before cutting inside and bending the shot a few yards wide of the post. Ferrier again ran at Jones before forcing Romero into a save that went out for a corner, nothing came from it. Winger Blackett-Taylor did well to beat his man inside the box but his rolled cross failed to meet the feet of any Tranmere attacker. 

Manchester United had plenty more chances to put the ball past Davies, in the next few moments. Lingard fluffing his lines from ten yards out and Martial failing to get past Manny Monthe inside the box.

However, the ‘red devils’ would soon get their fourth as Phil Jones leaped high to head past Scott Davies and David Perkins from a perfectly placed corner.

Solksjaer’s side would soon find their fifth as Martial’s shot deflected into the top corner. Martial’s ‘£50million’ song was sung loud by the United fans in the cowshed.

Half time came at a crushing 5-0 deficit for the ‘whites’, before the second half started evenly matched. United playing a one-two in the box but Clarke defended well to let the ball go into the hands of Davies. At the other end, Blackett-Taylor’s corner was claimed calmly by Romero.

Shortly after the wingers corner, Davies brought a United forward down inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. You’d believe Tranmere fans were down at this point, being beaten 5-0 and a penalty going against them. However, their three stands were loudly singing the famous ‘Tequila’ song. Greenwood converted from the penalty spot, Tequila still rang loudly.

Tranmere would be the threatening on goal side for the remaining of the game, United’s only chance coming when Chong took the ball from the wing to the crossbar. Ferrier shot from inside the box but the shot went wide of the post before David Perkins was replaced by creative midfielder Harvey Gilmour. Ferrier and Blackett-Taylor, Tranmere’s two main threatening players of the game, were soon replaced by Paul Mullin and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. Jennings forced a free kick 20 yards away from the goal line but nothing came from the free kick and Hepburn-Murphy’s curling shot from the edge of the box would land just wide of the post.

Unfortunately, Tranmere would crash out of the competition at the fourth round stage. Manchester United’s premier league quality side being too much of an ask on a cold January day in Birkenhead. However, Tranmere fans would still remain positive as chants rang from all corner of the ground past the full time whistle. They would be of the hope and belief that the money gained from the competition would be spent on a higher quality of players to keep the club in the third division.

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TRANMERE ROVERS V MANCHESTER UNITED – FA CUP R4

TRANMERE ROVERS V MANCHESTER UNITED

Sunday 26th January 2020 – A sell out in Birkenhead!

Lets be honest, when Micky Mellon’s ‘superwhites’ were 3-0 down at Vicarage Road on the opening weekend of the year, a replay in the tie was unimaginable. Never mind that Paul Mullin would score in extra time of the replay to knock Nigel Pearson’s Watford out of the FA Cup, to settle the game at a 2-1 win for the Rovers and to set up a tie against one of the greatest and most successful football clubs in the world in Manchester United. Aswell as setting this tie up, a lot of money would be given to Tranmere through the FA’s cup rewards. The FA have gave Tranmere at least £350,000 for this seasons competitions efforts, in reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2004. Although Manchester United are struggling at the moment, in the shadow of Liverpool and Manchester City for the past few seasons, Ole Gunar Solksjaer’s club still bring a massive sense of excitement to any club due to the clubs past successes: a record amount of premier leagues (20), 12 FA Cup’s which is only beaten by Arsenal and 3 Champions leagues. Aswell as the media and television investment into Manchester United, meaning Sunday’s fourth round tie will be shown on BT Sport. 

Past meetings:

Tranmere have met Manchester United’s senior team before, back in 1982 when United were the first club to visit Prenton Park when a friendly was arranged to help raise vital funds to help Tranmere reach past the financial difficulties they faced at the time. 

Before this, Tranmere travelled to Old Trafford for a league cup clash in the early September of 1976. Although this tie ended in a 5-0 defeat, fans have recently said that they attended this game and the two sides were at first evenly matched before the ‘superwhites’ came crashing down to a heavy scoreline. 

Team news: 

Ollie Banks, Mark Ellis and Evan Gumbs are all out of action as they are placed on the treatment table.

Alex Woodyard is cup-tied as he has appeared for Peterborough in this competition earlier this season, before making the loan deal to the north west.

Full back Kane Wilson is able to start after signing , on loan, from West Brom until the end of the season. 

One to watch:

Manchester United have many players that will bring a level of quality rarely seen at Prenton Park, due to the difference in money they are able to spend on players. However, it is teenage sensation and youth promoted Mason Greenwood that is this Sunday’s ‘one to watch’. Greenwood, an 18 year old forward, has appeared in 22 games for the ‘red devils’ scoring 4 goals in the midst of those appearances.

Officials:

No information has been provided.

Did you know? 

Manchester United have never played at Prenton Park competitively.