Dec 2015 002

By 1934 Tranmere were a leading team of the Third Division North with promotion just slipping their grasp season after season. Even against bigger teams Tranmere Rovers had shown their quality by holding off  the top names in English football at Prenton Park.

The FA Cup gave Tranmere the chance to explore their possible future of playing in the higher divisions and in the 1934 Rovers were given another chance to test their skills.

After securing comfortable wins against Newark Town, Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic and finally Southend United Tranmere found themselves in the draw for the 4th Round of the FA Cup with the possibility of yet again meeting a First Division team.

Following the draw papers on both side of the River Mersey were reporting with much excitement the possibility of a Merseyside Derby in the FA Cup. If Liverpool were to beat Fulham in the 3rd Round replay they would travel across the river to Prenton Park to face Tranmere in the 4th Round.

This was by no means the first meeting of the two clubs as their first match was in 1902 when Tranmere faced Liverpool in the Final of the Liverpool Senior Cup at Anfield. However this would be the first competitive game in a major national competition between the two clubs.

This meeting of the two sides of the River Mersey had the potential of being one of the biggest games of the 1930s in Merseyside. Fans from both sides of the river looked upon Prenton Park’s modest stands which would somehow how have to host such a great occasion.

Prenton Park however quickly became an issue in the build up to the game as some questioned its capacity to hold such a big game. In 1902 1,500 people turned out for the clubs’ first meeting but the number of spectators had greatly increased over the decades and with such a local rivalry could Prenton Park handle the tens of thousands of fans expected on the day?

Liverpool however still had to beat Fulham before Prenton Park’s capacity could be called into question, a Fulham win would probably only see a small number of fans travel up to Birkenhead compared to the possible thousands from Liverpool.

Prenton Park at the time could hold a maximum of 25,000 spectators and Liverpool’s average home attendance was 30,000. Add to this that Everton were not playing on the day the Birkenhead News suggested a crowd of 50,000 could descend on the Birkenhead ground.

Before the replay between Liverpool and Fulham took place the management of the two clubs met and agreed that in the event of Liverpool beating Fulham the game against Tranmere would be moved to Anfield.

Although some in the local press debated the move from Prenton Park the talk slowly changed to the game in hand and Tranmere’s chances against their larger yet younger neighbour.

The likes of Chelsea and Leeds had gone into their games against Tranmere brimming with confidence but left Prenton Park with bruised egos as the Birkenhead men held the two teams to draws.

Liverpool perhaps having taken note of the previous season’s results did not go into the game with such confidence. The match day programme was full of praise for Roves discussing their success against Chelsea and Leeds in previous seasons ‘… Bradshaw’s (Liverpool Captain) men are not likely to underestimate their task.’

The programmes notes also discussed the great quality players Tranmere had produced and the affect they had had on Liverpool. In Liverpool’s previous home game the Aston Villa captain, a Tranmere old boy, Thomas Pongo Waring had scored two goals one of which the programme stated was the finest ever to be scored at Anfield.

But even with the likes of Waring no longer playing for Tranmere other players were not to be underestimated. The programme notes highlighted Bunny Bell as the Tranmere player to watch pointing out he had already scored 50 goals in all competitions that season for Tranmere.

Liverpool had much to consider before the game as Tranmere had gone eight games with only one lose during December and January. By contrast Liverpool had lost seven of their previous ten games including a humiliating 9-2 defeat to Newcastle.

On the 27th January fans from Birkenhead poured down to the ferry terminals and train stations making their way to the familiar ground of Anfield, being joined by hoards of Liverpool and Everton supporters wanting to see the sceptical.

As the teams prepared in their respective dressing rooms the noise must have been awe-inspiring as the fans from the three clubs packed the ground. In 1902 only 1,500 had attended the first meeting between the clubs however thirty two years later 61,000 fans crammed themselves into Anfield far exceeding initial expectations. This would be the record attendance at Anfield until the 1950s.

The Birkenhead News reported the Kop as being a ‘… a swaying mass of humanity…’ and the game was delayed by half an hour as the stands failed to contain the masses and fans ended up on the pitch. The foresight to move the games from Prenton Park was perhaps a welcome one on the day.

To the Tranmere players such sights must have been unlike anything they had seen before with crowds at Prenton Park generally being at around the five thousand mark. Could Tranmere hold there nerve in front of the pulsating Merseyside masses whose combined noise must have been deafening.

For the first quarter of the game Tranmere were out of sorts and shaken by the spectacle before them. However Rovers held the reds back until the seventeenth minute when English opened the scoring for Liverpool.

Tranmere bounced back though levelling the scoring again after only five minutes after Urmson hit the back of the net giving Rovers a fighting chance. However the fight back became even harder as Liverpool took the lead again just before half time.

Into the second half Tranmere came out a more open team according to the Birkenhead News however they failed to capitalise on this improvement of tactics and five minutes before the end of play Liverpool scored again leaving the final score at 3-1 to Liverpool.

The move to Anfield had given Liverpool the home advantage which many teams fall foul of and for Tranmere not playing at Prenton Park really took its toll. The 61,000 strong crowd was well over double anything Tranmere had faced and this audience had stunted their usual style of play as their nerves got the better of them according to the Birkenhead News.

Yet the game had still been entertaining with the Liverpool Echo writing ‘First let us give the hand of congratulations to Barton and his Tranmere men for one of the best shows Anfield has ever seen.’ The article did however go on to spell out Liverpool’s superiority and somewhat condescendingly referred to Tranmere as the Merseyside Mites.

Although the game was lost and on the big stage Tranmere faltered at the magnitude of First Division crowds they showed they could at least reach this level. With another game against a big side under their belt and top half finishes in the Third Division North at the end of the season Tranmere’s progression up the leagues looked certain.




The 1931-32 season became a significant moment in the history of Tranmere Rovers as they announced themselves as a football team with ambition and the squad to match.

In 1921-22 Tranmere had joined the Football League as a founding member of the Third Division North and spent much of the 1920s looking like a team not quite sure of themselves. By the end of the 20s and into the early 1930s Tranmere Rover’s name was being mentioned more and more at the top table of English football.

The most notable quality that saw Tranmere draw national attention was their ability to find and develop good young players. Ellis Rimmer, Thomas ‘Pongo’ Warring and of course Dixie Dean made their first Football League debuts at Prenton Park before moving to First Division clubs and ultimately England.

By 1931 Tranmere had yet to display their own brand of football to a national audience only playing against their opponents in the Third Division North. However the luck of the FA Cup draw saw an opportunity for Tranmere to enter the national football scene.

After confidentially dispatching West Stanley 3-0 in the First Round of the FA Cup and then Bristol Rovers 2-0 in the Second Round Rovers now had the chance of being drawn against a top club from the First Division. As football fans across Birkenhead flicked to the sport pages of the local press they would have discovered Tranmere had be draw at home against Chelsea.

Chelsea who had just been promoted to back to the First Division in 1930 were looking to make a name for themselves taking on some of the great teams of the age including Huddersfield, Arsenal and Everton. Their first move upon returning the First Division was to sign three Scots Hughie Gallacher, Alex Jackson and Alec Cheyne.

These names may not mean a great deal to many today but these three were some of the most successful players of the 1920s and 30s. All had been part of the Scotland team who had beaten England 5-1 in 1928, Gallacher had captained Newcastle to First Division champions in 1926-27 and Jackson led Huddersfield to two FA Cup finals and won several league medal with the club.

The 1931-32 season had not got off to the best of starts for the Londoners however with some humiliating defeats most notably losing 7-2 to Everton in October. However by January Chelsea had won four out of their five games and were brimming with confidence for their FA Cup tie against ‘Little Tranmere.’

The Chelsea team arrived on the Wirral after their game against Bolton and decided to take in some of the sights. The teams were pictured taking in several holes at the Royal Liverpool Golf Course and were seen by many locals at West Kirby promenade as they stayed at the Royal Hotel. Although it was not all fun as the team were seen training along Hoylake shore, yet not all the players took the sessions seriously such as Hughie Gallacher who smoked cigars whilst rest of the team trained.

The Birkenhead News reported that the Chelsea team seemed quite relaxed in their training for Saturday’s game taking in a round of golf every morning. After light training the team would eat the championship winning meal of Beef and Chips with beer to wash it down with.

A reporter from the Liverpool Echo managed to catch up with Alex Jackson who proclaimed ‘I can’t see Tranmere having a chance!’ Others writing into the paper poured scorn on Tranmere’s chances against their First Division opposition.

However was this over confidence justified? In the modern game clubs at the top flight spend hours pouring over DVDs of their opponents recent games to ensure they are ready for anything. Obvious in 1932 this would have been impossible yet it seems Chelsea hadn’t even checked the results of this Third Division North team.

Out of the last nine games Tranmere had played prior to Chelsea they had won seven and drawn two. During that run they managed to play Rochdale twice beating them 9-0 at Prenton Park and away 6-3. Much of this success had been the goal scoring ability of both Ernie Dixon and Fred Watts who the previous season alongside Jack Kennedy had score a total of 96 goals.

Unlike the Chelsea team the Tranmere players under the trainer Jimmy Morten spent several hours a day running, sprinting, going through physical and dumb-bell exercises. However it wasn’t all hard work, the team were invited to the Birkenhead Hippodrome the Wednesday before the game to see the Pantomime of Robinson Cruseo.

The game though did catch the attention of the national media as the Pathe News Company sent down a film crew to record the game. Prenton Park was looking its best for its first film debut as the new five span roof stand had been built at the start of the season along Park Road West. The stands distinctive roof had been constructed by a company more used to building barns and this design saw the fans nickname the structure the Cowshed .

On the day crowds packed into a cold Prenton Park to see their local heroes take on the Goliath’s of the First Division hoping Chelsea’s over confidence would be their undoing.

The crowd didn’t have to wait long after kick off for the first bout of excitement as Fred Urmson for Tranmere fired a power shot into the back of the next after ten minutes. However the celebrations were short lived as E. V Gough the referee deemed Meston was in an offside position before Urmson took the shot. The Tranmere players protested he was not interfering with play but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Chelsea responded to the Tranmere onslaught going 0-1 up after 28 minutes and as the play got underway in the second half Fred Watts equalised bringing Tranmere back into the game. Soon after Ernie Dixon raced down the ground and powered the ball into the back of the net from twenty five yards giving Tranmere the lead.

A famous victory was now in the sight for Tranmere however referee Gough hadn’t finished playing his part on the result. Johnson for Chelsea put the ball into the Tranmere box where Pearson headed in the equaliser even though he was in an offside position.

The Tranmere players once again found themselves at the mercy of the Gough who again made a controversial decision to let the goal stand. The game finish 2-2 which was a frustrating disappointment for all at Prenton Park even Chelsea who now had to look forward to an unwelcome replay.

The gate attendance for the game was around 13,000 which was far below expected numbers however the turnout still produced £1250 from the gate.

Ultimately Tranmere’s trip to Stamford Bridge was more clear cut as Chelsea won the day 5-3 ending Rover’s cup run dreams. By the end of the season Tranmere managed a very respectful fourth position finish in the league whereas Chelsea only finished 12th in the First Division.

Although Tranmere’s moment in the spotlight was short lived they had managed to raise the profile of the club and their ambition. The game against Chelsea and subsequent games in following season against Leeds, Barnsley and Liverpool showed that this little club from the Wirral were not mire minnows in the game happy just to be in the Football League, but a team with the drive and skills to push on to the highest levels.

The last game of the season can be the most important game in a club’s year as success can bring new found triumph and lose can lead to disaster. Days like today can make or break a club.

Tranmere are no stranger to the possibility of relegation and have diced with death on many occasion throughout the club’s history. When the Third Division North and South merged for the start of the 1958-59 season relegation was introduced into the new Fourth Division.

In Tranmere’s second season in the new Third Division they barely escaped relegation but after two wins against Bury and Mansfield in the final two games of the season Tranmere stayed up.

Unfortunately they were not so luck the following seasonas they lost to Notts County 4-1 on the last day and Tranmere were relegated to the Fourth Division. For the next six seasons Tranmere battled for their rightful place in the Third Division and in 1966-67 they regained that place.

But the fairy tale of promotion was almost destroyed within a season as Tranmere struggled back in the Third Division and only a last game of the season win against Orient saved Tranmere from the drop.

The 1970s and 1980s saw Tranmere yo-yo between the Third and Fourth Division but in the 1986-87 saw Tranmere nearly fall out of the Football League altogether.

Financial problems and back room battles saw Tranmere enter a relegation fight which may have decided the fate of the club. Frank Worthington has struggled to string wins together to keep Tranmere up and by February Ronnie Moore was installed as Player-Manager.

However his lack of managerial experience meant that the drop was still calling the failing Tranmere Rovers. With only seven games to go Tranmere appointed the club’s greatest legend, Johnny King.

King pulled together as many points as he could but the fate of the club’s very survival was going to come down to the last game of the season. Tranmere were face Exeter City at Prenton Park and only a win would secure their survival.

This last game of the season was the most important in the club’s history and the people of Wirral knew it as Prenton Park struggled to hold the throngs of supporters on the day of the match. The number of spectators was so great the game was delayed by 15 minute to allow everyone time to get in.

The crowds watched with baited breath as a nervous Tranmere team tried to overcome the enormity of the game. By the end of the first half the score stood at 0-0 which at the time would not have been enough to secure Tranmere’s place in the Football League.

Johnny King took his side back to the dressing room and said something that inspired his players as they came out to the second half full of confidence. But Exeter still held Tranmere, until the final 15 minutes when Gary Williams found the back of the net for Tranmere.

As the final whistle blew Prenton Park could no longer hold back the hoards of supporters as they invaded the pitch to celebrate the survival of their club. Johnny King and Peter Johnson then took Tranmere from the bottom of the Football League to the doors of the Premier League in just six seasons.

However after over a decade of success never before seen at Prenton Park Tranmere found themselves back in the Third Division at the start of the 2001-02 season.

Over the decade Tranmere moved up and down the table but had never looked like getting relegated until the 2009-10 season. John Barnes had been brought in at the start of the 2009-10 season but failed to grasp the style of lower league football and was sacked. Tranmere’s position was dire and another Rovers legend stepped into the fold to save the club from relegation….Les Parry.

The long standing Physio most notably recognised for wearing his famous shorts in all weathers stepped up to the plate to stop Tranmere from being relegated. Tranmere battled on for the rest of season but struggling to find form after the Barnes Premiership.

Tranmere’s survival in League One would come down to the final game of the season away to Stockport County. The travelling 3,000 Tranmere fans packed their small corner of the ground cheering on the Super White Army. Luckily for Tranmere Stockport where having an even more torrid season and Rovers won comfortably 3-0 with goals from Ian Goodison, Joss Labadie and Ian Thomas Moore, securing their place in League One.

Tranmere Rovers are well versed in last game of the season do or die matches and today’s meeting with Bradford will not be last. But whether we win or lose Tranmere will go on…

Ron Yeats

Throughout Tranmere’s history they have been overshadowed by their larger neighbours across the River Mersey. Over the decades the biggest names in football have been draw in by the opportunity to play football at the top of the game.

However Tranmere have seen the benefits of having two large clubs on their doorstep as players have moved from Liverpool and Everton to Prenton Park. Some of the big names include the likes of Dave Hickson, John Aldridge, Archie Clarke and Pat Nevin.

Although there has been a steady flow of players from Everton and Liverpool over the years they have usually been one or two at a time. Yet in the 1970s the Tranmere team had a distinctly Liverpool feel to it as ex-Liverpool players fielded for Rovers.

The new Anfield feel to Tranmere Rovers was due mostly to the new captain who signed for Tranmere in 1971, Big Ron.

Ron Yeats had been described as the Colossus of Anfield and in his time for the club he made 358 appearances wining the First Division twice and the FA Cup under the stewardship of the great Bill Shankly.

Jackie Wright the then Tranmere Mangers signed Yeats in December 1971 as a player-assistant manager. At 34 his best days were behind him but Wright saw that he could make a real impact at Prenton Park.

Alongside the signing of Yeats Wright had also brought in Tommy Lawrence and Kit Fagan from Liverpool that season.

Less than four months later Wright was sacked as Tranmere finished just above the relegation spot in 1971-72 season. Seeing the wealth of experience Yeats had from working under Shankly he was given Wright’s job at Prenton Park to bring a little Anfield magic to the Wirral.

With the ink still drying on his contract Yeats was already moving to strength the Tranmere team and looked to George Heslop as a the new captain at Prenton Park. Although this £5,000 deal fell through it showed the ambitious thinking Yeats could bring to the club.

The summer however did not go without any signings as Frank D’Arcy (from Everton), Eddie Loyden, Tommy Veitch and Tommy Young joining the club before the start of the season.

Alongside the new signings Tranmere youth players made their debuts at the start of the season in Eddie Flood (originally from the Liverpool youth system)and Les Parry.

The additions to the club however had little impact at the start of the season as Tranmere lost four of their first five games and by the end of September they had only notched up five wins.

Seeing that Tranmere were not performing at the level he wanted Yeats looked to his former club Liverpool to strength his side. The first major signing Yeats made was the Liverpool legend Ian St John who had made over 300 appearances for the club scoring 95 goals.

The second came in the loan signing of Bobby Graham from Coventry City but he had made his name playing for Liverpool alongside Yeats.

With such experience and skill in the Tranmere team one would expect there to be some improvement on field. Yet Tranmere still seemed to struggle especially after key players left the squad in some cases only months after joining.

As the end of 1972-73 season drew closer Yeat’s key players began to leave the club with Ian St John, Bobby Graham, Roy Sinclair and Frank D’Arcy playing their football else where.

But even with the lose of such key players Yeats led Tranmere to a successful tenth position finish.

The following season Yeats looked to take Tranmere further than tenth but struggled to attract the big names he had been able to secure the previous season. But as the 1973-74 season started well as Tranmere went on a four game winning streak in September 1973.

The biggest game of Yeat’s premiership at Tranmere Rover was an away game against Arsenal in the League Cup in November in 1973. Yeats led Tranmere past the likes of Alan Ball, Bob Wilson and Ray Kennedy to win 1-0 making Tranmere the only club in the country to have a 100% success rate at Highbury.

However the early success of season faded as Tranmere finished sixteenth making Yeats’ position look in doubt. The 1974-75 season Yeats struggled and by November Big Ron asked his old mentor Bill Shankly to assist him at Prenton Park.

Shankly helped Tranmere to three straight wins but his stay at the club was short lived and his affects did not last. By April Tranmere were fighting a relegation battle and Yeats was sacked.

But for a short period Tranmere had seen some of the biggest names from Liverpool Football Club pull on a white shirt and play for their little neighbour.

Boston Red Stockings
In 1871 the first professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was formed in America fourteen years before the Football League in England.

Two teams which dominated this early baseball league in America were the Boston Red Stocking and the Athletic Club of Philadelphia.

By 1874 the monetary values of baseball were being realised as thousands flocked to see the American game. For some including the Harry Wright, the Red Stockings managers, they wanted to export the game to increase the franchise.

For Harry though he also wanted to take baseball to England the country of his birth. Wright had been taken to America, from Sheffield at the age of three by his professional cricket player father Samuel Wright. Although Harry Wright grew up playing cricket he excelled at baseball.

When the idea of a baseball tour in England was proposed many felt it didn’t make financial sense and may effect the season. Yet Wright took his Red Stockings to Liverpool and invited the Athletic Club from Philadelphia team to join him.

The Americans arrived in Liverpool on the 27th July and intended to play games in Liverpool, Manchester, London, Richmond, Sheffield and Dublin. Charles Allcock of Surrey County Cricket Club had been tasked with promoting the affair.

The Liverpool press gave little build up to the game as Allcock failed to advertise the match well in the city. However the press did attend this new sport which was to be played at the Liverpool Cricket Club ground in Edgehill.

The Liverpool Mercury stated that the first game was well attended on the 30th July but was surprised the crowd was not of a greater number due the novelty of this new sport. The American Press estimated around 500 spectators attended the game.

Whether the attendance was low due to Allcock’s failure to publicise the game is not completely clear. For many in Liverpool and England baseball was not entirely as many felt it was similar to Rounders. Even the Liverpool Mercury state baseball as ‘…akin to what is generally known as Rounders…’

The Liverpool Mercury gave little information on the first game at Edgehill instead filled their column with the rules of the game. However the correspondent did state that ‘…must give the American’s great credit for being good hands at a catch if it can be at all obtained.’

The Philadelphia team beat the Red Stocking 14-11 after a tenth inning was played to decide the game.

The following day the two American teams were to play at Edgehill once again. Unfortunately the weather was unfavourable according to the Liverpool Mercury which resulted in a low attendance.

The Liverpool Mercury stated though ‘As far as an exhibition of the game was concerned, the play was excellent, the fielding and the splendid catches made winning the applause of the assembly, which included several crack local cricketers, who know what difficult catches are.’

The Red Stockings were the team on top form that day as they beat the Philadelphia team 23-18. The tour then continued onto Manchester where the two teams were to play at Old Trafford Cricket ground.

The tour continued on around the country receiving only ever average attendances and by the end of August the Americans were sailing back to the States. The tour had not only been a financial failure and it had made little impact on the English public as Spalding later admitting it could not rival the game of cricket.

Like the rest of the country Liverpool had not seen any great interest in the sport after the American visit. Rounders was still strong within the city and by the 1890s was the second summer sport.

Point of Reference
The Boston Red Stockings had originally formed from the Cincinnati Reds who moved to Boston in 1871 and became the Boston Red Stockings. The team stayed in Boston but changed its name several times becoming the Red Caps, Beaneaters before eventually settling on the Boston Braves. The original franchise of the Boston Red Stockings is currently the Atlanta Braves one of the oldest franchises in the game.

The Athletic Club of Philadelphia has no connection with the later Philadelphia Athletics as the club folded in 1876.

5.4.14 001

For many the 1990s was the golden age at Prenton Park with promotion battles and Wembley appearance a regular occurrence during the decade. With the financial backing of Peter Johnson the club became a power house in English football.

However before the arrival of Peter Johnson and the success of the 1990s, the 1930s saw Tranmere’s most successful time in the club’s history.

Unlike the 1990s, Tranmere’s budget was far smaller and attendance had been falling since the mid 1920s. On a shoe string budget the board and trainer Bert Cooke created some of the best teams Tranmere ever put out during the 1930s.

The late 1920s had seen Tranmere produce some of the biggest names in football to come out of Wirral. Dixie Dean made is professional debut for Tranmere before moving to Everton, Ellis Rimmer too began his career at Prenton Park before heading to Sheffield Wednesday and Thomas Pongo Waring left Tranmere for Aston Villa.

By the 1930-31 season Tranmere had lost some of their big name players to the upper divisions and so recruited players who would try to fill such big boots. One of these players was Ernie Dixon who came to Prenton Park from Nelson. Dixon had spent the 1920s playing for Bradford City, Halifax, Burnley, Huddersfield and Nelson making him an experienced addition to the Tranmere team.

Another crucial addition to the Tranmere team was the inside forward Jack Kennedy from Sheffield United.

The 1930-31 season for Tranmere would come to be dominated by Dixon and Kennedy especially when they linked up with Farewell Watts who had joined Tranmere in 1929. The three players would go on to score an astonishing ninety six goals in all competition between them in the 1931-30 season.

The season got off to a wonderful start with Tranmere securing wins against Southport, Carlisle United and Barrow. All eight goals in the three games scored by Tranmere were from Dixon, Watts and Kennedy however they had not all scored in the same game at the same time.

The first game in which the three men all scored in was against Rochdale on 20th September. In front of the home crowd at Prenton Park Watt put two past Rochdale, Dixon scored once and Kennedy got a hand trick. Add on a Rochdale own goal and Tranmere beat their North West rivals 7-3.

By November Tranmere had notched up nine wins with the goals from the trio and their next opponent was Nelson. Although this was Dixon’s old team no quarter was given as he put two past his former club. Kennedy and Watt added two each to the score and Meston added the seventh.

Through December the three players added sixteen more goals to their tally with big wins against Hull City, Rotherham United and Barrow. With goal tallies such as this some must have thought Tranmere a shoe in for promotion and may be even the title.

However although Watts, Kennedy and Dixon were knocking goals in left, right and centre the rest of the team lacked the consistency needed to win the title. With a 6-0 defeat against Doncaster Rovers in early December, the first game none of the three men scored in, questions were raised as to whether Tranmere could go all the way.

The second half of the season saw any kind of consistence for Tranmere go out the window. With a big 8-0 win against Accrington Stanley (Kennedy 4, Dixon 3 and Watts 1) being closely followed by a 0-0 draw against Crewe meant promotion was chances where slipping.

However by March some were still optimistic that promotion was on the cards especially after beating Wigan Borough 5-1. However this game would be the start of the slide in form of the Tranmere team and the last time Dixon, Watt and Kennedy would score in the same game.

The Wigan game however had another significance as Tranmere’s Hundredth goals of the season was scored, making Tranmere the first club in the Third Division North to do so.

But the goals which had flown in up to this point dried up as Tranmere would only score eleven more goals that season. After the Wigan game Tranmere went on to lose five of their final nine games.

After losing 3-0 to Carlisle on the last game of the season Tranmere finished fourth only four points behind the title winners Chesterfield.

For the next eight season Tranmere pushed for the Third Division title and eventually won their first league trophy in the 1937-38 season. The club may have lacked funds but building on good local players and bringing in experience where needed saw Tranmere dominate the 1930s Third Division.

Soccer - Barclays League Division Three - Playoffs - Final - Bolton Wanderers v Tranmere Rovers - Wembley Stadium

The 1989-90 season had been one of heart break and jubilation as Tranmere made two appearances at Wembley that season. After being on the brink of extinction only a few years early Tranmere had turned itself around into a rising star in English football.

Victory over Bristol Rovers in the Leyland DAF Cup had been the club’s first major trophy in almost 60 years. With this huge win under their belts Tranmere went to Wembley again that month hoping for the double in the Third Division Playoff Final however Notts County were the victors that day.

The 1990-91 season began fairly mixed notching up at win against Bradford, a draw against Middlesbrough and a loss at home to Stoke. By November the club had only managed to pull together six wins and hope was slipping that Tranmere would reach the automatic promotion spots.

One loss however was perhaps a little bitter than most as Tranmere began there campaign to defend their Leyland DAF trophy. In the preliminary round Tranmere had be drawn away against their rivals Bolton Wanderers. Unfortunately Bolton were the only team to hit the net that day but Tranmere could still progress in the Cup if they won their next game.

The next opponents for Tranmere came from just up the coast as Blackpool came to Prenton Park. Tranmere taking the competition very seriously did not want a repeat of the game against Bolton and smashed Blackpool 4-0 with Morrissey, Steel and Muir (2) get the goals for Tranmere.

Blackpool went on to beat Bolton in their final preliminary game 3-0 which saw Tranmere’s rival fall out of the competition but Tranmere would see them again that season…

Tranmere’s performance in the league was still fairly inconsistent with results being mixed. Back in the Leyland DAF Cup Tranmere were to face Rotherham at home in front of over six thousand fans. Rotherham had been struggling in the Third Division but had managed that season to hold Tranmere to draw earlier in the year.

This second meeting of the two teams was not as evenly matched however as Morrissey and Steel (2) put three past Rotherham. Tranmere cruised through to the next round where they would play Fourth Division Blackpool again.

The Rotherham was game was a turning point in Tranmere inconsistent season as Rovers found their form. Over the coming months Tranmere began notching up more and more wins and hopes of making the playoffs were now a distinct possibility.

In the Leyland DAF Cup Tranmere progress well beating Blackpool and Wigan Athletic without conceding a goal. By March Tranmere had made to the Semi Finals again and only Preston North End stood in their way of third visit to Wembley in two seasons.

March would be one of Tranmere’s most successful months that season as the club won seven games. The first leg of the Semi Final was at Prenton Park and Tranmere were clinical putting four past Preston with goals from Harvey and Muir (3).

However on the away leg in early April Tranmere’s form slumped and they travelled to Deepdale after drawing with Bolton in the League. The game didn’t get off to the best of starts as Preston scored first, was this the end of Tranmere’ cup run? Fortunately Preston’s goal was the only one of the game and Tranmere had made to Wembley again.

In the League Tranmere’s performance picked up again and by the end of the season Tranmere finished fifth securing a place in the play offs. After seeing of Brentford 3-2 on aggregate Tranmere were once again booking their tickets for London.

In May 1991 45,000 fans packed into Wembley to see Tranmere play their first Wembley game of the month. Birmingham took control of the game early on and Sturridge put the blues head after twenty minutes and just before the half time Gayle made it 2-0 to Birmingham.

However Tranmere came out in the second half a changed team and after few substitutions found themselves level with Birmingham after Steel and Cooper put the ball past the keeper. At 2-2 and the second half coming to a close the next goal would win it. But it wasn’t to be Tranmere’s day as Gayle put a third past Nixon.

After losing the Leyland DAF Trophy attentions turned to the Play Off Final against none other than Bolton Wanderers.

On 1st June Tranmere ran out onto Wembley hallowed ground hoping that they would walk back down the tunnel as a Second Division team. The game was hard fought and Bolton dominated early on but Tranmere’s biggest blow was losing Steel after 14 minutes to injury, he was replaced by Chris Malkin.

The two teams both came close to opening the scoring but by the 70th minute the game still stood at 0-0. The final whistle blew at 0-0….extra time would now decide Tranmere’s fate. Tranmere fate was sealed by a single goal in the 8th minute by Chris Malkin whose goal saw Tranmere return to the second tier football after a fifty three year absence.

Soccer - Leyland Daf Cup Final - Wembley - Tranmere Rovers v Bristol Rovers

The 1980s for Tranmere Rovers saw the club go from near extinction to Wembley in a matter of years. Tranmere went from administration to a club with the money to match their ambition of being a First Division club.

By the mid point of the 80s Tranmere were languishing in the lower part of the Four Division and by 1987 it looked like their sixty five years in the Football League would come to end as relegation seemed almost certain. However by beating Exeter on the last game of the season Tranmere stayed up and from that point began to climb back up the tables.

The 1988-89 season saw Tranmere not only return back to the Third Division but through the automatic promotion spot.

When looking down the team sheet of the Tranmere team of the 1988-89 some of the club’s biggest names litter the page. With the likes of Dave Higgins, Eddie Bishop, Jim Steel, Ian Muir, Chris Malkin, John Morrissey and Steve Vickers to name a few, the team in 1989-90 looked its strongest since the 1930s.

The start of the season for Tranmere couldn’t have been better notching up four wins in a row in all competitions. By November had already pulled together twelve wins including a 6-0 hammering of Bristol City.

One game dominated November however which was the visit of Tottenham to Prenton Park in the League Cup. One game that month however at the time had little significance other than to settle old scores with a local rival.

On November 7th Chester came to Prenton Park in preliminary round of the Leyland DAF Cup a competition few showed much interested in. However as Chester were a local rival over ten thousand fans packed the old stands at Prenton Park to see Muir score the only goal in the game.

This victory may have seemed small in the grand scheme of things but it set in motion the wheels which would see Tranmere reach Wembley.

After seeing of Rochdale 1-0 in the final Preliminary game Tranmere’s next opponent was Scunthorpe United at home. Rovers overcame United 2-1 with McCarrick and Malkin scoring for the home side.

With the competition hotting up Tranmere must have been relieved to see their next hurdle was Chester City again. Perhaps it was the home advantage but Tranmere were clinical, beating their local rivals 3-0 with McNab, Morrissey and Muir scoring.

Tranmere’s next opponents were a team for whom Rovers would develop a deep rivalry with over the next few years, Bolton Wanderers. Rover had already lost to the promotion contenders earlier in the season 3-1 at Prenton Park and no one wanted a repeat of that game.

With over nine thousand fans cheering on Tranmere at Prenton Park the home side overturned the earlier season defeat beating Wanderers 2-1 with Steel and Muir scoring the important goals.

After seeing off Bolton Tranmere had made it all the way to the Semi Final and only had to see off the weak Doncaster Rovers team who were propping up the lower end of the Fourth Division.

Tranmere cruised past Doncaster 3-0 over two legs and secured their second ever visit to Wembley.

By the time Tranmere team arrived at Wembley on the 20th May Rovers had secured a place in the Third Division Playoff Final which would see them at Wembley again just a week later. But on that day the team’s focus was on winning the club’s first silverware since 1938.

Facing Tranmere that day was Third Division title winners Bristol Rovers who were looking for the double. Bristol had already beat Tranmere twice that season and some may have thought the game a forgone conclusion…expect for Tranmere and it’s fans of course.

In front of nearly 50,000 supporters Bristol took control of the game nearly taking the lead after four minutes only to be denied by a double save from Nixon. Soon after the save though Tranmere showed they meant business as Ian Muir scored from a Chris Malkin header.

Although Hughes, Garnett and Thomas defending was outstanding Bristol pulled one back at the start of the second half. The pressure was on for Tranmere but in the 71st minute Jim Steel headed in the winner from a Muir cross.

Tranmere had won their first major piece of silverware in over fifty years and a week later it was hoped the playoff trophy would be added to the collection. However Neil Lennon’s Notts County proved too strong for Rovers as County won 2-0.

The Leyland DAF Cup may not stand as one of the great cup competitions in the world but this win saw Tranmere become a regular at Wembley over the next decade as they fought to play in the highest league in the country.


Tranmere has had many local heroes from the Merseyside area throughout its history but for one season the heroes of the club were men from North of border as they put right the wrong of Tranmere Fourth Division place.

The 1960-61 season had been one of the worst seasons in the club’s history with 115 goals being conceded and some shocking defeats such as the 9-2 hammering Tranmere received from Queens Park Rangers. Not surprisingly Tranmere were relegated in the Fourth Division for the first time in the club’s history after 34 seasons in the Third Division.

For the next five seasons Tranmere attempt to gain promotion back into the Third Division under the watchful eye of Dave Russell. Over the five seasons Tranmere came close to achieving their goal of promotion coming fifth twice in the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons.

By the 1966-67 season Tranmere were ready to make that final push that would hopefully see them promoted back to their rightful place in the Third Division.

The season didn’t get off to the best of starts with a 0-0 draw against local rivals Chester and the following game saw Tranmere lose Bradford 0-1. However Tranmere picked up their form and beat Bradford Park Avenue 3-2 and then Hartlepool 2-0.

The season ploughed on seeing Tranmere picking up points here and there but big wins against Crewe (5-0) in October showed Tranmere were still on course to achieve the promotion position they so desperately wanted.

After going through February undefeated after winning four games in a row and conceding one draw Tranmere looked like a shoe in for promotion but a drop in form meant it came down to the wire and by the second to last game of the season Tranmere still hadn’t secured fourth place.

On Friday the 12th May Tranmere would entertain Rochdale at Prenton Park in a must win game if they didn’t want another fifth place finish. Even if Tranmere managed to beat Rochdale promotion wasn’t guarantee and it was likely it would come down to the last game of the season.

For many the game was somewhat of a forgone conclusion as Rochdale’s season had not been successful as they languished near the foot of the table but as the teams came out of the tunnel to 12,000 fans cool heads were needed to ensure this game was win.

The cool heads seemed to prevail as Tranmere took the lead after Stevens managed to fire in a shot from a Johnny King cross. Tranmere ramped up the pressure on Rochdale and eventually it paid off as Hudson managed to score a second for Rovers on the 42 minute.

After the half time team talk Russell sent Tranmere out feeling optimistic that the win was now a given. However the cool heads of the first half seemed to vanish as Storeton push Rochdale player Calder in the penalty area. Six minutes into the second half Rochdale were made the score 2-1 bringing the win for Tranmere suddenly into question.

With Tranmere dominating the first half it was now Rochdale’s turn to dominate as they pressured the Rovers goal. Not long after scoring the penalty Jenkins for Rochdale sent the ball flying into the box with Calder only needing a touch to equalise but he failed to reach the ball.

On the sixtieth minute though the game was finally put to bed as Williams managed to put the ball in the back of the Rochdale net from a Hill throw in. From this point on Tranmere dominated the game again but failed to add anymore goals to their tally.

The 3-1 win for Tranmere meant that after five seasons of Fourth Division football Tranmere would be returning back to the Third Division. Luckily for Tranmere results went their way meaning the Rochdale game secured their promotion.

With promotion secured –only for the second time in the club’s history- the crowd invaded the pitch to cheer on the home team and the celebrations could now begin. In the changing rooms the champagne was popping and the celebrations were being led by the club’s Scottish contingent Bill Bothwell the acting Chairman, the Manager Dave Russell, team captain Eddie Robertson and the Tranmere legend George Yardley who even put his kilt on.

The success of that season had been in part down to the youth programme that the club’s Scottish contingent had built with the likes of Roy McFarland –who would later play of England- ensuring Tranmere could compete not only in the Fourth but also the Third Division. Unfortunately for McFarland he watched Tranmere win promotion as he was six weeks into an injury which saw him miss the final games of the season.

These Scots had taken Tranmere back to their ancestral home of the Third Division, a division they help form in 1921 and even managed to win it in 1938.

Tour Team 1889

The game of Cricket has been the staple of British sporting appetite for hundreds of years. This somewhat slow paced and leisurely game has dominated the summers of many British boys and men. However a hundred and twenty five years ago this March another summer game was selling its wares across the world and in the spring it came to Liverpool.

The origins Baseball at this time was built mostly upon myth and legend but what was a fact was the growing appeal for a quicker and easily understood game. Albert Spalding perhaps Baseball most important pioneers saw that he could export the American game to countries who for the most part played Cricket.

Starting in Australia in 1888 he took his Chicago White Stockings and an All American team to Cairo, Naples, Paris and Dublin. By 1889 the tour was coming to close to its finish and after failing to get his exhibition game played in the Coliseum in Rome Spalding brought the team to London to play at the Coliseum of Cricket the Oval.

By the time the Americans arrived in London the story had been picked up by the Liverpool Echo looking to promote the later game which would take place in the city. For many in the country Baseball was not taken seriously as game being described as ‘…merely an elaboration of Rounders’ by the Daily Telegraph.

However one major difference between Baseball and all British sports was the professional nature of the game. The same year the Americans came to Liverpool the first professional players especially in football were emerging. With salaries for £400-£600 being earned on the American teams some feared football heading the same way.

The Exhibition tour had been fairly straight forward as the two American teams simply played one another. However in Liverpool a slightly different opportunity presented itself as the Liverpool Rounders Association offered to play the Americans.

With the Liverpool team offering to play the Americans the game instantly became an international fixture. The two sides were to play two games one of Rounders and one of Baseball with a large crowd expected to see whose game was the better.

The Liverpool Echo stated around five thousand turned out to the Police Athletic Ground in Fairfields to see the spectacle of the day.

Before the games against the Liverpool Rounders Association however a game was still to be played between the Chicago White Stockings and the All American team. The Liverpool Echo describe the Baseball players as ‘…splendid specimens of trained men…’ which had it was said attracted many ladies to the game. The two teams got underway but after only five innings the game was interrupted with the score standing at 2-2.

The interruption was caused -whether intentionally or not- by the appearance of the Liverpool Rounders Association to the field. The arrival of the ‘internationals’ -as the Rounders team were referred- led to the American’s abandoning their game. The first match between the internationals and the Americans was to be Rounders which according to the Echo the away team didn’t take very seriously.

The home fans felt they had the advantage and many were offering substantial odds on the internationals beating the Americans. Sufficed to say the home fans were not disappointed as the Americans were all out in the first innings for six whereas the internationals notched up 16 in their first inning.

The second inning saw some improvement from the Americans but they still only managed to score eight which saw the internationals win 16-14 after playing only one of their innings.

For the Americans however the Rounders match was of little concern and the Baseball game was the time to be serious about the competition.

A report in the Liverpool Echo stated ‘This game was ludicrously funny as the Englishmen were as much at sea at the national sport of America as the it was vice versa…and the general intricacies of the game puzzling the Rounders men who were no match for the tricky Yankees.’

The ‘tricky Yankees’ however seeing how lost the British were at the game coached the international team through the match. However after four innings without a single international player hitting the ball the Americans won 17-0.

Whether the crowds had been entertained by the two games is unclear but the report in Liverpool Echo stated ‘It will be safe to say that the majority of the spectators present were not greatly impressed with the game and there is little fear of it ever becoming popularised in England to the disadvantage of cricket.’

The report in the Liverpool Echo was right that Baseball would never over take cricket in the city but the games legacy was to live on. After the game small Baseball leagues have existed in the Merseyside area and the 1930s the game was major summer sport with teams such as the Liverpool Giants and the Wirral team the Caledonians dominating the sport.

A hundred and twenty five years later Baseball still has a foot hold in the city as the Liverpool Trojans prepare for the 2014 season in Bootle.