1921

Last season the club celebrated a hundred years at Prenton Park. However whilst we recognised this historic feat we overlooked another anniversary as last season was also Tranmere’s 90th successive season in the Football League.

The Football League was founded in 1888 by teams such as Aston Villa, Blackburn, Bolton and Everton. Tranmere by 1888 were still a very young and small club so were not part of the formulation of the league. Tranmere instead had to wait thirty three years before they could join the Football League.

The ambition to join the Football League was never really in doubt and by the 1910s Tranmere had asserted themselves as one of the dominate teams in lower league football in the area. After seeing off local rivals Birkenhead FC it seemed nothing could stop their rise to the Football League

Tranmere’s ambitions of playing in the Football League were laid out for all to see with a new stadium at Prenton Park built in 1912. The ground was still small but showed that the club’s aims were much higher than their current position.

With large crowds and the increasing quality in the team, promotion to the Football League was within Tranmere’s grasp. Unfortunately the outbreak of the First World War put the brakes on these ambitions as the country was torn apart by war.

By the end of the First World War Tranmere were still dominating the local leagues and won the Lancashire Combination in the 1918-19 season. With the War over Tranmere again began the push for Football League status.

In October of the 1919-20 season Tranmere were promoted to the Central League after Leeds were expelled for over paying their players. The Central League was mostly made up of Football League team’s reserves. The promotion now put Tranmere in the best possible position to enter the Football League. Tranmere finished fourth in their first season.

Fortunately for Tranmere the Football League created a new league the Third Division North and Tranmere were one of the first teams to be elected to the new league. The greatest ambition of the club was now fulfilled as they gained their Football League status.

The summer of 1921 gave Tranmere the time to build a squad that could compete in the rigours of the Football League. Some in the local press were unsure as to whether Tranmere could compete at such a high level against other more professional teams. This was warranted when you consider the poor quality local teams they had been playing for that last few decades.

Before the first ball was even kicked in the 1921-22 season trouble was brewing as ticket prices were increased at Prenton Park. A protest was held outside the ground three days before the first game demanding the price be lowered. However the protest fizzled out as a practise match kicked off.

The following Saturday history was made at Prenton Park as Tranmere’s first Football League fixture against Crewe kicked off. The Birkenhead News stated ‘The curtain was ‘rung up’ on Saturday afternoon at Prenton Park on the most important season in which the Tranmere Rovers Club has yet entered.’

Crewe scored the first Football League goal at Prenton Park on the half hour mark but Tranmere fought back. Milner scored from a Moreton corner to equalise and Stuart scored a penalty to make it 2-1 to Tranmere. In the dying moments of the first half Ford made the score 3-1 at the interval.

In the second half Tranmere comfortably defended their lead and added to it from a Groves goal. The game finished 4-1 to Rovers. This good start to the season did not last and by the last few games of the season Tranmere looked to be finishing last, however a final push meant they finished third from bottom.

The success of Tranmere’s 90 consecutive seasons should not be over looked or taken for granted especially when you consider New Brighton has had two Football League teams both of which no longer exist. When you consider the thousands of teams over the last 125 years of the Football League who have failed to enter the Football League Tranmere are one of the lucky few.

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