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Tranmere Rovers F.C.

Tranmere Rovers Football Club is an English football club, currently playing in Football League One and based at Prenton Park, Tranmere, Birkenhead, Wirral.

Overview

The club was founded by a merger of two local cricket clubs in 1884, before changing its name to Tranmere Rovers a year later. The club played its first match in the Liverpool & District Challenge Cup in 1886. In 1921-22 the club joined the newly formed Third Division North of the Football League. They were also winners of the 1934-35 Welsh Cup.

Though they played in blue shirts and white shorts for much of their existence, the club's traditional home kit is now regarded as white shirt, shorts and socks, with blue trim.

The name Tranmere refers to a district in the south of Birkenhead, on the eastern side of the Wirral Peninsula. Tranmere alone has a population of 11,668 (2001 Census). The area is made up of industrial buildings and Victorian terraced houses. Its name was given by Norwegian Vikings who settled and colonised Wirral in the 10th century. Tranmere in Old Norse is Trani-melr, "cranebird sandbank" or "sandbank with the cranebirds".

Tranmere play their home games at Prenton Park. The club has faced years of strong competition for both players and supporters from the two much bigger local clubs - Liverpool and Everton, which is why they play many of their home fixtures on a Friday night.

Following Brian Little's resignation, Ronnie Moore was appointed manager in June 2006, from Oldham Athletic.

Between 1991 and 2001 they were in the second tier of the English league, reaching the playoffs three times and the League Cup final once before being relegated.

John Aldridge, the former Liverpool striker who scored nearly 500 goals in his professional career, was appointed player-manager of Tranmere in March 1996 and remained at the helm for five years, although he hung up his boots in 1998. His predecessor was John King, who took Rovers from the brink of losing their league status to the brink of reaching the Premiership.

Other well known players to wear a Tranmere shirt include Dixie Dean, 'Pongo' Waring, Ian Muir, Derek Mountfield, Colin Clarke, Jason McAteer, Pat Nevin, John McGreal, Sean Teale, John Morrisey, Eric Nixon, Steve Simonsen, Ian Moore, Alan Mahon, Ryan Taylor, Iain Hume, Ged Brannan and Jason Koumas.

Tranmere have been reported in the press premiership title contenders this year.

Prenton Park

There are four stands: The Kop, the Main Stand (including the paddock), the Cowshed and the Johnny King Stand (formerly the Borough Road Stand). The Kop is the biggest of the stands and houses the home fans while the Cowshed houses the away fans. The stadium is all-seater and has a 16,787 capacity. Three sides of the ground were rebuilt over a nine month period in 1995 to a design conceived by much reviled former Chairman Frank Corfe, who later left the club under a cloud. That said his legacy was the Prenton Park of today, all achieved for less than the cost of one architect designed stand at Everton's park end.

The Crest

The text on the ribbon of the old crest read "Ubi Fides ibi Lux et Robur". This translates as "Where there is faith there is light and strength". The club badge and motto are based on the crest of the former Birkenhead Borough, which became part of Wirral MBC in 1974.

History

Since the mid-1990s, Tranmere Rovers have become famous for their unlikely cup successes. John King led them to the 1994 League Cup semi-final only losing to Premiership side Aston Villa on penalties. John Aldridge continued this tradition, guiding Tranmere to FA Cup quarter-finals in 2000 and 2001 and a League Cup final in 2000. This then continued under manager Brian Little as Tranmere took Millwall to a quarter-final replay in the FA Cup in 2004, eventually losing 2-1.

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, Tranmere have beaten many Premiership sides in cup competitions. Notable scalps include a 3-0 victory against local rivals Everton at Goodison Park (FA Cup, 2001) and a victory against Southampton (FA Cup, 2001), which saw the greatest comeback in FA Cup history when Tranmere came from 3-0 down at half-time to win 4-3.

The early days, 1884-1921

The current Tranmere Rovers Football Club was formed by two cricket clubs - Belmont CC and Lyndhurst Wanderers - coming together, initially as Belmont FC. They played and won their first match 4-0 against Brunswick Rovers on November 15 1884. The following year (16 September 1885) they re-named themselves Tranmere Rovers, taking the name of a club that had previously disbanded. The connection being both clubs had the same benefactor, Mr James Hannay McGaul, who later became Chairman and president until he died in 1920.

Under the name Tranmere Rovers they played matches at Steeles Field on Borough Road, Birkenhead, in a kit of blue shorts and white shirts. In 1887 they gained a new ground from Tranmere Rugby Club, Ravenshaws Field, also on Borough Road. This was later renamed Prenton Park, although it was not until March 9 1912 that the team moved into the current stadium of that name.

The team had by this time joined the West Lancashire League in which they competed for thirty years, winning it in 1908. TRFC nearly folded in 1899 when most players elected to join the rival Birkenhead FC, and the team had to rent out the ground to Birkenhead Warriors Rugby Club - who did at least bring a 250 seat stand with them. Tranmere were eventually promoted to the Central League in 1919 (though not by 'normal' means - Leeds City Reserves were expelled for overpayment of wages, Tranmere took both their place and their points!), and then to the Third Division North in which they played their first match against Crewe Alexandra at Prenton Park on August 27 1921. At this time the team were managed by Bert Cooke - who did so for twenty three years in total, the club record for longest serving manager.

The Dixie, Bunny, Pongo & Nibbler era, 1922-1939

In 1924, a Birkenhead youth named William Ralph Dean, but known to fans as "Dixie", made his début at the age of 16. Dean was discovered by Jack "Dump" Lee, Rovers' trainer and earlier team member. He played just 30 games for Rovers, scoring 27 goals, when he fulfilled his boyhood dream and was transferred to Everton in 1925 for £3,000. In the season 1927-28, Dixie netted 60 League goals, a record unlikely ever to be broken.

Three years after Dixie's departure, two more talented youngsters left for First Division clubs - winger Ellis Rimmer to Sheffield Wednesday for £3,000 and Tom 'Pongo' Waring to Aston Villa, where he is still their all-time record scorer in a single season, for £4,700.

As a boy, Pongo had sold chocolate and cigarettes to the Prenton Park crowd before signing for the club. Before he left, Pongo made his mark with a then club record six goals in the 11-1 thrashing of Durham City in January, 1928.

A fourth local youngster with an eye for goals, Bill "Nibbler" Ridding, was sold to Manchester City, in early 1930, for £3,500.

Without these talents, Rovers took some time to re-group but by 1930-31 they seemed to be running away with the championship on the back of an inside forward trio netted 93 goals between them. But, as would happen again in the future, with four games to go, Rovers' form slumped and the promotion dream vanished.

Off the pitch, many improvements were made to Prenton Park including a five span roof over the Prenton Road West end terrace, forever to be known as the "Cowshed", and the expansion of the Kop which was doubled in size with ash and clinker.

In 1932, Chelsea were held to a 2-2 draw in the F A Cup at Prenton Park. Again in the FA Cup, a home tie in Round 4 against Liverpool, on 27 January 1934, was switched to Anfield where 61,036 saw Rovers defeated 1-3 - the largest ever gate for a "home game".

In both 1934-35 and 1935-36 seasons, Rovers led the Third Division (North) for most of the campaign but, in the last few vital weeks, blew their promotion chance on each occasion to fuel talk that the club lacked ambition and "did not want to go up" - though they did win the Welsh FA Cup in 1935.

The stability of the club was hardly helped by the departure, in acrimonious circumstances, of long serving secretary/manager Bert Cooke amid FA enquiries into illegal payments to players to induce them to sign for Rovers and the dismissal of several directors.

Cooke was replaced by former England international, Jacky Carr, who was in charge on 26 December 1935, when Robert "Bunny" Bell, who had netted an incredible 57 goals in all competitions during 1933-34 season, scored a record breaking nine goals in the 13-4 demolition of Oldham Athletic - and missed a penalty.

Bell's record was broken by Joe Payne who played for Luton Town, three months later, and he himself was subsequently sold to Everton, being replaced a year later by the returning Pongo Waring.

It was Pongo, along with former film extra and new team secretary/manager, Jim Knowles, who masterminded Rovers' triumphant championship season in 1937-38, when five points from their three final games clinched a first ever season in Division Two. In fact, it is still, nearly seventy years later, Rovers' sole championship in the Football League.

With Pongo well past his best and allowed to go to Accrington Stanley, and the rest of the team inadequate for the higher grade of football, Rovers struggled.

Despite early euphoria and then a series of panic buys which failed, they were relegated having won just six of 42 matches - the all time worst record of any team in Division Two.

The Wilderness era, 1939-1986

For the large part of this time Tranmere simply survived, and sometimes barely that, making little impact upon the wider football world. Prenton Park survived World War 2 without any significant damage, except perhaps to Manager Bill Ridding, who served throughout the war years, and was then promptly replaced by Ernie Blackburn, who stayed in post nine years. Blackburn's team had some FA Cup success - beating First Division Huddersfield Town 2-1 on 1951, and holding Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-1 draw at Prenton Park in 1953, although the return leg was lost 9-1, Tranmere's record defeat.

Blackburn was replaced by Republic of Ireland international Noel Kelly, but his tenure was unsuccessful and brief, with Rovers having to apply for re-election to the League in 1957, following which Peter Farrell took charge of the club. Farrell took the team to a mid-table position, ensuring that in the 1958 restructuring of the football league's lower divisions, Tranmere were among the top 12 clubs from the third division north who moved into the newly created third division, rather than going down to the fourth. A crucial match against Wrexham, also fighting for a place in the higher league, on 30 April 1958 attracted a crowd of 19,615, which remains the highest ever attendance at a Prenton Park league match. Later that same year, floodlights were installed for the first time.

As Rovers struggled in 1961 a new manager, Walter Galbraith was brought in, but he could not help Rovers avoid the drop to Division 4 for the first time in their history despite the purchase of a number of players, including one John King.

1961 also saw one of Tranmere's greatest servants leaving the club - Harold Bell. Between 1946 and 1955 Bell never missed a single Rovers game - 459 consecutive appearances, a record which holds to this day.

Galbraith was replaced by Dave Russell who all but revolutionised the club - bringing in the modern all white strip and developing a highly successful youth policy which saw many club stalwarts through its ranks - including England international Roy McFarland. Russell oversaw a steady progress for Rovers, coming close to promotion in both 1965 and 1966, before finally achieving it in 1967 - despite winning fewer games than in either previous season. The following year was also successful, with FA Cup wins over First Division Huddersfield Town (again) and Coventry City, before a fifth round 2-0 defeat to Everton. With an attendance of 61,982 this was the largest ever crowd for a Rovers game. By the Everton game, Tranmere was the last third division club left in the cup, a fact which attracted a lot of media attention for the curious reason that a purported mystic had earlier that year predicted that a third division side would reach the final at Wembley.

Russell became the clubs General Manager in 1969 allowing coach Jackie Wright to take the reins. Wright's most significant purchase, former Liverpool defender Ron Yeats scored in the drawn FA Cup match v Stoke City which saw a record Prenton Park attendance - 24,424. Yeats replace Wright as manager after just four months.

Yeats immediately started strengthening Tranmeres' Liverpool connections - bring in Ian St John, Bobby Graham, Willie Stevenson and Tommy Lawrence, as well as the great Bill Shankly in a "consultancy" role. This team saw one of the most memorable Rovers results of all time when, on 2 October 1973, in a League Cup tie, Tranmere beat First Division superstars Arsenal 1-0 thanks to an Eddie Loyden goal, and later FA Chief Executive Mark Palios shackling Arsenal's Alan Ball. Tranmere Rovers are the only club to have a 100% record at Arsenal's former Highbury home.

Such glories couldn't last though, and Tranmere slipped back into the Fourth Division in 1975, despite bringing players through such as Steve Coppell. Yeats was sacked and replaced by his coach. The following decade was among the bleakest times in Tranmere's history, with the club usually in the lower reaches of the fourth division and beset by severe financial difficulties, almost going out of business on several occasions. A takeover by local businessman Peter Johnson proved to be a turning point in Tranmere's history, the club under his ownership enjoying by far the most successful period in its history, in which manager Johnny King took the team from the bottom of the fourth division to the brink of English football's top league.

The John King era, 1987-1996

John King is widely regarded as the most successful manager ever to take charge of Tranmere Rovers. He was appointed manager of the club for a second time (having previously been in charge in the 70's) towards the end of the 1986-1987 season, with the club fighting not to finish bottom of the fourth division and be relegated from the football league. Safety was only guaranteed in the last game of the season with a 1-0 home win over Exeter City, Tranmere's crucial winner being scored by midfielder Gary Williams. Thereafter, King began to show the talents which made him a legend on the Wirral and established his reputation as one of the greatest managerial geniuses ever to grace England's lower leagues, as well as one of the most eccentric. Carefully blending homegrown talent from the club's youth programme with astute bargain signings from league and non-league clubs, he built a team which took Tranmere steadily up the football league standings and acquired a fearsome reputation in cup competitions.

King's first full season of his second managerial spell in charge saw Tranmere make their first appearance at Wembley stadium when a good mid-season run of form saw them qualify as one of the fourth division's two representatives, along with eventual champions Wolves, in the football league's centenary tournament. Tranmere were the surprise stars of an otherwise derided tournament, beating first division Wimbledon and Newcastle before losing on penalties to eventual winners Nottingham Forest.

King's second season in this spell (1988-89) saw him guide Tranmere to promotion as Fourth Division runners-up. It also marked the first of a string of cup successes against sides from the first division, Middlesbrough going down 1-0 on aggregate in the second round of the League Cup. Fellow top flight sides Millwall, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Coventry were among the other giants slain at Prenton Park by King's Tranmere.

A successful return to division three saw Tranmere finish fourth in the table, only to lose to Notts County in the 1990 third division playoff final. They were granted a place in the Second Division after Swindon Town (Second Division playoff winners) were demoted to the Third Division for financial irregularities. But Tranmere remained in the Third Division after Swindon's punishment was reduced to remaining in the Second Division. Consolation came in the form of victory in the Associate Members' cup final, a 2-1 Wembley win over third division champions Bristol Rovers. Club record scorer Ian Muir gave Tranmere an early lead with a magnificent volleyed strike, and after Devon White gave Bristol Rovers an equaliser early in the second half, Muir's strike partner Jim Steele headed a late winner.

Tranmere Rovers went one better in the 1990-91 season, finishing fifth in the league but winning the Third Division playoffs with a dramatic 1-0 win over local rivals Bolton Wanderers. Chris Malkin's extra time goal saw the club promoted to the Second Division for the first time since the 1930s. They also made a second successive appearance in the Associate Members' cup final, this time losing 3-2 to Birmingham City. This made the play-off victory over Bolton Tranmere's fourth appearance in a Wembley final in just over a year. Another notable event that season was in Tranmere's home match against Southend United on new year's day 1991, when right back Tony Thomas scored after just eight seconds, at the time the fastest televised goal in history.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge joined the club that summer, signing from Spain's Real Sociedad, and would remain on the club's payroll for the next 10 years. John King guided Tranmere into the new Division One playoffs three years in succession from 1993, but each time they lost in the semi-finals and King resigned in March 1996 with the club in mid table. This period also included a semi final appearance in the league cup. Rovers were unlucky to eventually lose on penalties to premiership side Aston Villa.

The John Aldridge era, 1996-2001

John Aldridge was appointed player-manager and remained in that role for five years. During that time Tranmere failed to reach the playoffs although they came very close in the 1996-97 season. The 1999-2000 season was Tranmere's best ever in cup competition, with a run to the quarter finals of the FA Cup, and the final of the League Cup, the club's first major cup final. The League Cup final resulted in a 1-2 defeat to Leicester City, Tranmere's goal scored by David Kelly after Tranmere defender Clint Hill had been himself sent off; although it should also be added that the player he fouled had been clearly offside at the time. Remarkably, Aldridge took Tranmere to the final of a major national cup competition with a team which did not include a single player he had paid a fee for. The club's severe financial constraints meant that at the time the squad included only a single player for whom a transfer fee had been paid, big striker Wayne Allison, who was cup-tied for the League Cup run.

The following season they again reached the FA Cup quarter final with a run that included two games unlikely ever to be forgotten. The fourth round saw Tranmere drawn away to Merseyside rivals Everton, in whose shadow, along with that of Liverpool, the club has always lived. A memorably one-sided game saw Tranmere give the Toffees a comprehensive three-nil hammering at Goodison Park, with one goal from Jason Koumas and two storming headers from defender Steve Yates. The date has been immortalised in Tranmere history, fans having designated 27 January Saint Yates' Day. More drama was to come in the shape of a 4-3 fifth round victory over Southampton. Trailing 3-0 at half time, and having been comprehensively outplayed by the Premier League side, Tranmere came out for the second half transformed. With Prenton Park a cauldron of noise, Tranmere began to launch an astonishing display of unfettered attacking football, ripping the Southampton defence to tatters as they blazed forward at will. A hat trick by Paul Rideout brought the scores level, with Stuart Barlow then hitting the winner which gave Tranmere a 4-3 victory in a game generally regarded as one of the greatest FA Cup comebacks of all time.

In the league things were very different, with the side floundering at the very bottom of the table. Aldridge finally handed in his resignation in March 2001 when Tranmere lost 2-3 at home to Barnsley after having led 2-0. The caretaker team of Ray Mathias and Kevin Sheedy was unable to save them and Tranmere were relegated from Division One after a decade at that level.

The Dave Watson era, 2001-2002

Tranmere had hopes of a quick return to Division One, but it was not to be. Dave Watson was appointed manager, an unpopular move with fans due to his links with Everton and concern over his lack of contacts and managerial experience. This scepticism proved to be well founded, Watson proving to be utterly out of his depth as he took Tranmere into a slump from which the club has still not recovered. Watson not only unexpectedly held on to key players such as Jason Koumas and club captain Clint Hill, both of whom had been expected to move to higher division clubs, but also made several new signings. These included Simon Haworth, who under subsequent managers became the club's most prolific striker since Aldrige, and Liverpool cast-off Alan Navarro, a 20-year-old who made a great impression during a loan spell but failed to fulfil this promise after signing for the club.

Despite this signing of expensive new talent and some fairly encouraging early season form, Watson's first season in charge vindicated his critics. His team played a dull and unattractive style of football, insipid to a crowd raised on the tradition of silky passing football perfected under King and Aldridge, and, astonishingly given the strength of the squad he inherited, spectactularly ineffective in terms of results. From February until the end of the season, Tranmere only managed three wins from 19 fixtures, resulting in a mediocre mid-table finish in a league many had expected them to win. The season provided some memorable results, including a 5-0 win over local rivals Wrexham, a 4-0 win over Blackpool, and two 6-1 wins in the same week; the first against Cambridge in the league, the second an FA Cup victory over Carlisle. However, among many unwanted statistics for the year was that Tranmere failed to do the double over a single team in the league demonstrating a lack of consistency that contributed to their downfall.

Despite calls for Watson to be replaced and the collapse of Aldridge's cup final side as key players departed in droves, he remained in charge for the duration of the summer. In July 2002, Waton signed Kevin Gray from Huddersfield and immediately installed him as club captain but while the manager sang his praises, fans raised questions about the quality of his defending and his pace. Gray's poor performances in the 2002-03 pre-season heaped pressure onto Watson and gave his critics further ammunition, culminating in Birmingham City's visit to Prenton Park in which the newly-promoted midland team ran out 7-0 winners and Gray was singled out for particular criticism. In the wake of the this game, the board sacked Watson, with Lorraine Rogers stating a lack of passion on the pitch as the main reason. Dave Watson joins an extremely short list of managers who have been sacked due to a side's performance in a pre-season friendly. He nowadays coaches schoolboy sides in Liverpool.

The Ray Mathias era, 2002-2003

Results and performances seemed to improve immediately when Tranmere stalwart Ray Mathias was promoted from assistant manager to full manager in 2002-03. Tranmere's season opener was an away match at Port Vale which was won convincingly 4-1. By the end of August Tranmere were a point outside the playoff places. Under the guidance of Mathias and the extremely popular assistant-manager David Kelly who was appointed in October, Tranmere remained within three points of the playoff places most of the season. David Kelly's influence on the season was said to be considerable and his ideas and personality in training were hailed by the players.

A feature of the 2002-03 season was the extraordinary number of loan players who served the club for different lengths of time, including three goal-keepers: Ian Feuer, Keith Welch and Phil Whitehead, plus short-lived outfield players Pat McGibbon, Tom Curtis, Christian Edwards, Adam Proudlock and Marvin Robinson. Loan players of note were Tyrone Loran and Mike Jackson (who were both later signed permanently) and winger Iain Anderson who chipped in with two goals in his seven-game stay.

A remarkable second half of the season saw the team lose only once in 23 league matches to finish just outside the play-off zone in seventh place, despite equalling a club record of eighty points. In their push for promotion Tranmere also established a new club record of doing the double over eight league opponents. Cardiff City beat Rovers to the last playoff spot by a single point, a feat made mathematically possible by an unforgettable Tranmere v Cardiff Friday night fixture in March 2003. Cardiff opened the scoring through Robert Earnshaw but Simon Haworth equalised for Tranmere. Earnshaw scored again only for Iain Hume to equalise again for Tranmere. The home side finally went ahead through Gary Jones with one minute of normal time remaining and the game seemed won, only for Robert Earnshaw to equalise for Cardiff and complete his hat-trick in the 94th minute - An event which has fuelled rivalry between the South Wales club and Tranmere.

Optimism for the following 2003-04 season was shaken when in July 2003 assistant manager David Kelly left the club for Sheffield United. Tranmere's opening match was followed by ten games without a victory and pressure on Ray Mathias was mounting. This lead the board to issue Mathias with an ultimatum that he must win the home match against Wrexham on Saturday 27 September 2003 in order to retain his job. In a cruel twist of fate Tranmere not only took an early lead but outplayed Wrexham in almost every respect. Had it not been for an outstanding performance by Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Dibble, the visitors faced a heavy defeat. Unfortunarly for Mathias's career, Wrexham equalised on 62 minutes, and a minute later Shaun Holmes scored his first-ever league goal to leave Tranmere defeated, and managerless.

Following Mathias's departure from the club at the end of September, Tranmere actually won their first game since the beginning of August however there followed another two league defeats, and Tranmere were left low on morale, without a manager and occupying a relegation spot.

The Brian Little era, 2003-2006

In October 2003, Tranmere turned to Brian Little as their new manager. Little had previously achieved promotion success with Darlington (twice) and Leicester, as well as leading Aston Villa to League Cup success in 1996.

Tranmere had slipped into the relegation zone just prior to Little taking over, but his arrival seemed to bring an immediate stabilising influence over the team. His primary objective was to tighten up the defence and despite losing his first game in charge in the LDV Vans Trophy, there followed a run of eleven league and cup games in which Tranmere won seven, drew three and lost only one which pulled away from the drop zone, and took the team through to an FA Cup tie with old rivals Bolton Wanderers. The match played at Prenton Park ended in a draw which meant a replay at Bolton's Reebok Stadium in which the home team looked favourites to ease past their lower-league opposition, despite fielding a weakened team. However, it was Tranmere who scored first through Eugene Dadi, whose goal-celebration revealed a t-shirt with the number "9" and "Haworth" in honour of the team-mate who had recently broken his leg. Tranmere's hopes of a win in normal time were ended when Bolton equalised with one minute of injury time remaining to take the game to extra time. Only 20 seconds into extra time, Tranmere's young Iain Hume struck a 25-yard shot which proved to be the winner and continued the upturn in the club's fortunes.

By mid-February, Tranmere had climbed to 12th and were only seven points from a playoff position. Following an FA Cup win over Swansea, March saw an FA Cup quarter final away to Milwall in which again, the lower-league Tranmere were not favourites, however the game was a draw thanks to a penalty save by John Achterberg. Meanwhile, in the league, a loss to Blackpool had been followed by four draws in five. The FA Cup success once again seemed to weigh heavily on the team's league performance as it had done in the relegation season of 2000-01 and four consecutive losses saw Tranmere drop back down to 16th. After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Millwall in the replay at Prenton Park, Tranmere's league form returned and Tranmere won eight out of their last ten fixtures, ending the season in eighth place.

Little's first full season in charge saw a genuine promotion challenge as the club finished third behind Luton Town and Hull City. The side had started the season well but the end of January and throughout February saw a run of four draws in five games, culminating in a 3-1 humbling at home by promotion rivals Hull City. Having only lost five games all season up until that point, Tranmere managed only five wins in the last 12 fixtures and it was on the back of this poor form that Tranmere went into the playoffs. Not surprisingly, the team which had only won two of the last nine away games put in a poor performance away at Hartlepool United, being well beaten 0-2. Just as might be expected, the return match at Prenton Park was a superb football game and proved that once again Tranmere could perform when the occasion demanded it. Rovers outperformed Hartlepool, despite captain Jason McAteer going off with concussion, and Tranmere scored two goals which took the tie into extra time. In the end they lost on penalties to Hartlepool to send them crashing out of the play-off semi-finals with Ian Sharps having his spot-kick saved.

During the 2005 close season Tranmere lost their top four goal scorers of the previous campaign. Ryan Taylor and Iain Hume were sold to Wigan Athletic and Leicester City respectively. The club released Eugene Dadi who later joined Nottingham Forest while Paul Hall was only offered a one year deal and swapped Birkenhead for Chesterfield. Sam Aiston and Steve Wilson were brought in from the lower leagues, whilst Little signed the striker Chris Greenacre from Stoke City. A poor 2005-2006 season, in which the club achieved safety from relegation only with a dramatic away victory over MK Dons in the penultimate game, saw rising discontent against Little among Tranmere fans. As well as below-standard performances, many supporters blamed him for excessively conservative tactics leading to dull football, weakening the strength of the squad by failing either to identify quality signings or introduce new talent from the club's youth ranks, and generally failing to recognise the spirit of the club. Many players had come on loan to Tranmere during the course of the season due to the loss of Ryan Taylor and Iain Hume, but were generally considered not to have been of high enough quality, Alex Bruce was brought in at right back and did little to impress, whilst veteran Nicky Summerbee came on a week to week deal, and also failed to impress. The exception was Simon Francis from Sheffield United who proved himself to be a more than capable right back, and with the potential to play at a much higher level. Sam Aiston signed from Shrewsbury, and despite being a favourite with the home fans, due to his willingness to run with the ball, he failed to make much impression on the scoresheet: scoring only 3 times all season. Steve Wilson in goal was capable of great saves but also capable of equally silly mistakes. Some credit should go to Brian Little for recognising the untapped potential of Chris Greenacre, who he converted to a striker from the midfield role he played at Stoke City. Greenacre went on to become leading scorer for the 2005/2006 season with Delroy Facey next on 8 goals for the season, including the last minute winner against MK Dons which helped send the Dons down and keep Tranmere up. The lack of goals from midfield was the biggest failing of the side. Tranmere's midfield, containing local players Steve Jennings and Danny Harrison were organised and hard working, but shows little creativity and flair to provide ammunition for the strikers. Polls conducted on the club's unofficial website during this season recorded an increasing swell of opinion that Little should be removed. It therefore came as no great surprise when Little left by mutual consent on May 5, with club captain McAteer and John McMahon taking over for the last game of the season, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Doncaster Rovers. Despite speculation linking the former Brentford manager, Martin Allen with the vacant post, on June 9, Tranmere announced the appointment of popular former player, coach and assistant manager Ronnie Moore, formerly manager at Rotherham and Oldham, as Little's replacement.

The Ronnie Moore era, 2006-

After Moore took over the job in June he quickly made a flurry of signings, including several from his former club Rotherham such as Paul McLaren and John Mullin. Australian central defender Shane Sherriff signed as did Chris McCready from Crewe, after impressing in pre-season friendlies. Perhaps the biggest signing of the summer for Rovers was the addition of pacey wide man Chris Shuker from Barnsley, fighting off competition from several successful Championship clubs as well as Blackpool. Veteran forward Gareth Taylor signed from Nottingham Forest, after an uneasy stay at the City Ground. The season began with a 1-0 win against Moore's former club Oldham.

Six games into the season, the match against Leyton Orient caught the headlines not least because it placed Tranmere second in the league table, but mainly due to an extraordinary 90-yard goal scored by the Rovers goalkeeper Gavin Ward from an indirect free kick just outside his area which got a touch off the debutant leyton orient goalkeeper giving the ref no choice but to give the goal. A good run of form, including a creditable draw at home against Nottingham Forest left Tranmere placed second in the table but there then followed three opportunities in quick succession whereby Tranmere could have used a game in hand to go to the top of the table. None of these chances were taken and a spate of injuries in October exposed the lack of depth in the squad after Ronnie Moore had chosen quality over quantity of players with his limited budget. Injuries contributed to a result at home to Huddersfield Town which ended 2-2 after being 2-0 up after half time and a 2-0 reverse in the second half at Bradford City. Attempts to bring in loan signings to cover the lack of strikers proved fruitless however coming through this bad patch saw a morale-boosting away win at Brighton take Tranmere back to within one point of automatic promotion once more. However, form slipped away and Tranmere finished a respectable 9th position for Moore's first season at the helm.

In the close season, Moore signed the ex-Rovers Welsh international goalkeeper Danny Coyne as well as defensive duo Antony Kay and Ben Chorley. Midfielder Adnan Ahmed was also signed from Huddersfield Town. Tranmere opened the 2007/08 season at home with defeat to Leeds and then went on to exit the Carling Cup in the first match. Tranmere won their next two games away at Gillingham, 2-0, and at home to Brighton, also 2-0.

On 6 October 2007, after their 2-1 win at Southend, they reached the top of the League One table, on goal difference, with 19 points from 10 games. However, their stay at the top only lasted for one week, and began a dreadful run of only four victories in the next sixteen league games which saw the team slide steadily into mid-table. A big factor in this loss of form was long-term injuries to both of the team's first choice wingers, Steve Davies and Chris Shuker, severely limiting the team's attacking options. The situation was remedied by tactical reorganisation on Moore's part, boosted by the loan acquisition of two promising youngsters from higher division clubs, Blackburn's Andy Taylor and Bristol City's Jennison Myrie-Williams, along with the return of manager's son Ian Moore, who had started his career at Tranmere.

By the end of February, Tranmere had reached the playoff zones, but were unable to keep up their good form during the final weeks of the season and ended up finishing 11th with 65 points, and were 11 points short of a playoff place.

Ronnie Moore signed a new 2 year deal keeping him at the club until 2010.

Players

As of 31 July 2008.

Current squad

Notable Former Players

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see also

Biggest rivals

Despite being near to Liverpool and Everton, just across the Mersey, Tranmere's time in the lower leagues has meant they have formed rivalries with other clubs...

Bolton Wanderers F.C.: The history between Bolton Wanderers FC and Tranmere goes back to the early 1990s when both clubs were fighting for promotion from Division 3 into Division 2. They met in the Division 3 play-off final at Wembley in 1991. In the final Chris Malkin scored the winning goal in extra time to send Rovers up into Division 2 for only the second time in their history. Bolton and Tranmere fans were reacquainted once more after Bolton won promotion from Division 3 in the 1991-92 season. The rivalry continued as both clubs challenged for promotion into the Premiership culminating in the 1994-95 season when Bolton gained promotion through the play-offs. As Bolton found it hard to remain in the Premiership, being promoted and relegated twice, there were still some meetings between the sides. When the two teams were managed by John Aldridge and Sam Allardyce, meetings became quite juicy.. Tranmere met Bolton in the semi final of the League Cup on their way to the last Wembley final at the old Wembley in 2000. It was a two legged affair which Tranmere won 4-0 on aggregate. The fact that Tranmere were still a division lower than Bolton at this time further fuelled the rivalry. The two clubs last met in the FA Cup in 2004.

Wrexham A.F.C.: Wrexham AFC have always been one of Tranmere's rivals, not only because the two clubs are relatively close to each other or because they have been in the same division for long periods of time, its mainly because Tranmere Rovers are English and Wrexham are Welsh. Tranmere's last win at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground – a 5-1 victory – was particularly sweet for Tranmere fans.

Chester City F.C.: Chester City are based to the south of Tranmere near the Welsh border. Chester have not met Tranmere in a league match since 1991, but previously had often played in the same division as Tranmere. In recent years, some of the rivalry between Chester and Tranmere results from the Chester City chairman, Stephen Vaughan, proposing in 2003 to buy Tranmere, sell Prenton Park and have Tranmere play their home games at the Deva Stadium whilst a new "community stadium" was built on the Wirral.. This was unacceptable to most Tranmere fans, who were concerned that it could lead to Chester and Tranmere being merged.

Oldham Athletic has grown into a reasonable rivalry due partly to manager Ronnie Moore leaving the Latics to return to Tranmere, and partly due to both clubs regularly vying for a playoff position. Wigan Athletic also had a small, short rivalry during their Division 2 era because of Simon Haworth's controversial transfer from Wigan to Tranmere.

Local teams such as Cammell Laird F.C. and Vauxhall Motors F.C. play Tranmere every pre-season and as both teams are within 5 miles of Tranmere, there is a friendly rivalry between the clubs.

As at the summer of 2007, the following teams have played the most league games against Tranmere: Crewe Alexandra 116, Halifax Town 104, Rochdale 104, Stockport County 104, Wrexham 102, Hartlepool United 100, Chesterfield 92, Darlington 86, York City 82, Southport 80, Barrow 70, Chester City 68.

Women's football

Tranmere Rovers' affiliated female counterpart, Tranmere Rovers L.F.C., is currently competing in the Northern Championship. They are currently feuding with Liverpool L.F.C., Lincoln City L.F.C. and Crewe Alexandra L.F.C. for promotion to the Women's Premiership, where they have been before, from 1996 to 2001.

Internal records

Best league win
13-4 against Oldham Athletic 1935/36

Highest attendance

  • Home
  • Away - 62,000 against Everton FA Cup 5th Round 1968
  • Neutral - 74,313 against Leicester City Worthington Cup Final 2000

Lowest attendance

Home - 937 v Halifax Town 1984
Away - 286 v Lecce - Anglo-Italian Cup 1994

Most goals in a season

40 - John Aldridge - 1991/92
40 - Robert "Bunny" Bell - 1934/35

Honours

Famous fans

  • Steve Anderson - English football correspondent for ESPN television and radio
  • Ray Stubbs - BBC TV Sports Presenter - (born Wallasey, Merseyside, 1956) is a broadcaster and former Tranmere reserve. He currently works for BBC Sport presenting Final Score as well as the coverage of snooker and darts. He occasionally presents Match of the Day, Match of the Day 2 and 6-0-6 on Five Live.
  • Half Man Half Biscuit - famously turned down the chance to appear on seminal 80s rock show The Tube, as Tranmere were playing that night, even though Channel Four offered to fly them by helicopter to the game following their take in the studio.
  • Steve Wilson - Match of the Day football commentator.
  • Nigel Adderley - Radio 5 Live football commentator.

In Popular Culture

Physio Les Parry recorded and released a Christmas single in December 2006. The song was written by breakfast DJ Jeff Nolan from Wirral's Buzz 97.1 and was released to aid the annual Wirral's Buzz help a Wirral child appeal.

  • Chris Sharrock new Oasis drummer, as anounced by Liam Gallagher on stage 7/10/08 in Liverpool

Notes

External links

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