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On the morning of the 31st August 1946 football fans across the country awoke with the knowledge that teams they had missed for seven long and hard years would once again take to their fields of play and entertain the masses who watch in ore at the spectacle that only completive football can create.

The Birkenhead Advertiser too saw the day as a special one in the football calendar writing ‘ Today is D-Day for a million football fans as four divisions of the Football League get under way for what promises to be the season of superlatives…’ The article went on to discuss Tranmere’s chances in the new season and players to watch out for.

However since so little football had taken place every team in the league was an unknown entity with almost completely different teams to the 1939-40 season. Tranmere’s youth player investment of the previous seven years had given the club the players they needed but few were optimistic of this being a promotion winning team.

The newly appointed Chairman Alderman Hodgekinson too thought Tranmere prospects were good but he was not over ambitious stating ‘We are going to do our best, but we can’t perform miracles. We hope that the people of Birkenhead will support the club and give us a chance to settle down to real competitive football again.’

Rotherham United had been described as Tranmere’s bogey team before the War as they had notch up so few wins against the United. However many felt this meaningless now as the two sides put out their new teams.

The over eight thousand fans that came to Prenton Park to see the first competitive League football in seven years came away a little down trodden as Rotherham continued to be the Tranmere’s bogey team beating Rovers 4-1. Atkinson scored Tranmere’s only goal that day in what had been a fairly disappointing start to such a monumental season.

However Tranmere bounced back the following game beating Southport 2-1 with one of the scores being Harold Bell who would be come a true Tranmere legend over the next decade or so.

As the season progressed the results were mixed with spells of wins and then loses hampering Tranmere’s move up the league. The fans were becoming frustrated with their team’s performance and began barracking the Rovers players on some occasions.

The Chairman reminded fans that for many of the players this was their first taste of League football and they should give them a chance. He went on to say ‘If our supporters want the players to do their best, they must encourage them. Last Saturday certain players who had had an off day were baited. Most of us are likely to have an off day and it is not sportsmanlike to bait a player…’

By the winter of 1946-47 the weather decided to play havoc with the fixture list as one of the worst winters in recorded history struck the country. With temperatures dropping down to -21C and heavy amounts of snow on the ground Tranmere like every other team struggled to play games in the winter.

The poor weather would lead to the longest season in the Football League’s history as replays took place well into June. However in the few games Tranmere did play in the winter months they notch up several wins as they seemed more at home playing on the frozen and muddy pitches.

The final game of the 1946-47 season was to be against Tranmere’s old Welsh rivals Wrexham at the Racecourse. Both teams by now had secured themselves top half finishes and had nothing to play for which should have made the game a dull affair.

The Birkenhead Advertiser stated ‘It was a match of pretty and sometimes thrilling football in which clever and thoughtful approached work by both sides was negative by consistently weak and ill-directed shooting.’

However neither team could break the deadlock and the game finished 0-0 leaving Tranmere with forty one points and a respectable tenth place finished in the Third Division North.

The season was billed as a new dawn in football as clubs across the land rebuilt their teams from scratch and took on untested opposition. Tranmere came into the season fairly strong with a good number of youth players and de-moded experienced players which matched their tenth place finish.

With the first season now complete some elements of normality had been restored to country but others were still years away as rationing and shortages would continue on into the 1950s. But at least fans could wander down to Prenton Park to forget the troubles of post war Britain.

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