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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.

 

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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.

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.

The death of Sir Tom Finney has brought many memories and stories of the great 1950s footballers. The 1950s saw footballers with clean cut haircuts, jobs and a pride to play for England.

The 1950s saw the rise of great names such as Stanley Mathews, Stan Mortensen, Billy Wright and Nat Lofthouse who have all been described as some of the best players to ever grace the game.

Football in England by the 1950s was held up as the pinnacle and a model which should be followed across the world. However the rest of world was not following the English model and this was made clear in the first World Cup England attended in 1950. The England team which included some of the great names were humiliated after being knocked out early by the USA.

The flaws of English football were again put on full display as in 1953 Puskas and the Hungry team defeated England 6-1 at Wembley. Yet such humiliating defeats did not dampen the faith fans had in these giants of 1950s football.

At Prenton Park one player who perhaps isn’t listed among the usual suspects of great 1950s footballers is Harold Bell. This legend of Prenton Park was a one man club who was with Tranmere from 1939 until 1960.

A young Harold Bell joined Tranmere as the country prepared for war at the age of just fifteen. With the out break of war the Football League suspended all leagues until hostilities ended. Alongside this players from the first and reserve teams were draft into the war effort whether at home or abroad.

For the fifteen year old bell this lack of players gave him a rare opportunity to play first team football even if it was against weakened sides. The then coach Jimmy Moreton saw the potential of young players such as Bell and spent much of his time coaching the youngsters.

The youth programme took a massive blow however as Moreton died in 1942 but he had in his short time been instrumental in the development of players such as Bell. Bell too had great respect for Moreton and he was one of the pole bearers at his well attended funeral.

Bell’s debut for Tranmere seemed to show a career full of goals as the sixteen year old scored a hat trick beating Bradford 6-4 in 1941. However it was felt Bell’s skills would best be severed at centre half and later full back. During his professional career Bell would only manage another eleven goals.

After making around two hundred appearances for Tranmere during the war in 1946 Bell would make his first League appearance as the Football League began again after a seven year absence.

Unfortunately however the game wasn’t the greatest success for Bell as they lost 4-1 to Rotherham at Prenton Park. What Bell did not realise was that day he would embark on a record breaking career.
For nine seasons Bell went on to made 401 league appearances, never missing a game until 1955 when he was finally dropped to the bench. 401 consecutive appearances is still a Football League record and in all Bell would make 633 appearances.

The year bell missed his first game in nine seasons was also his testimonial year and Tranmere welcomed Bolton Wanderers to Prenton Park. The game made the front page of the Brikenhead News who may have been somewhat awestruck that the legendary Nat Lofthouse who was part of the Bolton Team.

Attendance at the testimonial was one of the highest in the club’s history for testimonial as twelve thousands fans packed into the still relatively small Prenton Park. In an age when player’s wagers were capped and many had second jobs the £1,500 raised by for Bell was welcomed gratefully, especially to Bolton who donated £1,000 to the fund.

Bell continued on with Tranmere until 1960 but the aged player could no longer compete in the now fast paced game. After leaving Prenton Park he joined Peter Farrell at Holyhead and even managed the club briefly before returning to his home town of Liverpool.

Back in Liverpool he became the manager of a Littlewoods Social Club and later died in July 1994.

Bell may not be remembered alongside the likes of Finney, Lofthouse or Mathews outside of Prenton Park but he still a true legend of the game.

In 1944 Merseyside was playing hosted to one of the greatest movements of people in world history as hundreds of thousands of American soldier poured across the Atlantic in preparation for the D Day landings. With so many Americans in the area the people of Merseyside want all things American and that included sport.

By April of that year the Merseyside National Baseball League was formed with seven local teams competing. Baseball was not new to Merseyside though, as in the 1930s the game became fairly popular with the top local side being the Liverpool Giants. Dixie Dean was very keen on the sport playing for Caledonians and even met Babe Ruth in 1934.

With the formation of the new baseball league Mr R S Trueman from Tranmere Rovers saw an opportunity for using Prenton Park in the slow summer months. The Club put two teams into the Merseyside League Tranmere Rovers Baseball Team and the Birkenhead Baseball Team, both of whom would play their home games at Prenton Park.

By mid May the first game of the season was drawing close and Tranmere prepared for the coming season. One of the first additions was to the ground as a Loud Speaker was installed to allow a running commentary to be given of the game. The pitch at Prenton Park was also altered so as to accommodate a baseball field.

The investment didn’t stop with the ground as the club looked to build a strong team with plenty of experience. The first key signing for the Tranmere Rovers Baseball team was Colin Grove who according to the Birkenhead News had played in the American Leagues and was international player.

Tranmere’s opening game was against Roote at Prenton Park which Rovers won 18-7 in front of a modest crowd. The gate receipts for the game were £12 2s 10d which Mr R S Trueman of Tranmere Rovers expected to rise as the sport increased in popularity. Luckily for the club it was far cheaper to put a baseball game on than a Football match.

The next test for Tranmere was against their very local rival Birkenhead who they shared Prenton Park with. The Rovers team had been strengthen after the Roote victory to include Cecil Rutherford whose addition saw Tranmere beat Birkenhead 14-9. Although the teams played well according to the Birkenhead News both teams still needed more experienced players.

Trueman was aware of this and made probably the best signing of the entire league in A C Haley, a pitcher who it was claimed could pitch at over 90 mph. Haley was a Canadian who had played in the American Leagues before moving to Liverpool and playing for the Giants. When war broke out he joined the RAF.

Haley’s impact was seen instantly in his first game for Tranmere against Fazakerly at the end of May. By the Fourth inning Tranmere were down 6-4 when Haley came on to pitch he took thirteen strike outs. Tranmere won 15-6 and the league already seemed to be in the bag for Rovers especially with the signing of Haley’s old Giants team mate Jackie Ritchie on second base.

However although Tranmere had made these great players one factor meant they never quite reached their full potential….the War. Grove, Haley and Ritchie were all involved in the war effort and so couldn’t play ever game. By June this problem saw Tranmere lose to Caledonians and later were hammered 25-3 by Everton.

But Tranmere could still turn heads as one report stated ‘When at full strength, they are considered as one of the best teams in England.’ However being one of the best teams in the country saw the likes of Grove and Haley being called up for international games which in turn meant they missed more Tranmere games.

By July other teams had invested in their squads and Tranmere lost the edge they had had at the start of the season.

Tranmere Rovers Footballer and Manager Bill Ridding started playing for Birkenhead and made an instant impact on their performance.

Ridding impact led the Birkenhead press to ask why more footballer weren’t asked to play for one of the baseball teams. The star player and coach of Tranmere Baseball Team Grove told the press ‘…footballers have not only been invited, but have been asked through the management of Tranmere Rovers to join one of the teams…but the request has not been complied with.’

With the season coming to an end Tranmere still put out good performances but as other teams continued to improve Tranmere struggled to get the wins.

By mid August talk of the new football season was creeping back into the press and interest in baseball disappeared. Tranmere may not have won the league but for a few brief months Prenton Park was a bastion of Baseball and Tranmere one of the best teams in the country.

George_Moorhouse

The late 1920s saw Tranmere produce some of the club’s greatest players such as Dixie Dean, Ellis Rimmer, Thomas ‘Pongo’ Waring and Bill Ridding. All of these players are greats of the game and held up in high regard within football history.

However one accolade that all of these greats missed out on was the chance to play in the World Cup. In 1930 when FIFA put together the first World Cup the FA still believed that England were the best team in the world and we didn’t need to prove it so declined to join the World Cup.

This decision saw some of the greatest names in English football failing to ever get the chance to show the world just how good they were. England wouldn’t play in a World Cup the 1950.

The World Cup went ahead without England and many other European teams with only Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia representing Europe. In the original World Cup teams didn’t qualify they were invited but many nations turned down the offer due the competition being held in Uruguay which even the 1930s was not an easy place to get to.

With so few European teams the competition had a very American feel with the majority of the teams coming from the South America unsurprisingly. One team not from South America however was the United States team who only 18 days sail away from Uruguay took up the offer to compete in the World Cup.

The US team was fairly inexperienced only playing eleven international games before the competition. The team was a mix of American and foreign born players including several from England. However of the English players only one had played at a professional level, George Moorhouse.

George Moorhouse was from Liverpool and after the First World War thought he’s try hand at a footballing career and signed with Leeds United. However struggling to make it into the first team Moorhouse signed for Tranmere Rovers in 1921.

To say Moorhouse’s time at Tranmere was uneventful would be understatement as he only made two appearances for the first team and spent most of time playing for the reserve team.

photo (7)

In 1923 Moorhouse emigrated to the Canada where he continued to play football for Montreal before moving south of the border to America. His time in the new American leagues would be his most prosperous as a footballer.

Originally Moorhouse moved to the Brooklyn Wanderers but after a couple of months he transferred to the New York Giants where he’d spend the next seven seasons scoring 45 goals and making 250 appearances.

Moorhouse made his first international appearance in 1926 when America beat Canada 6-1. In 1930 he was selected to represent the USA in the first World Cup making him the first professional English player to do so.
On the opening day of the World Cup the USA team and Moorhouse took on Belgium in front of 15,000 supporters at the Central Park Stadium in Montevideo and won 3-0. The USA team then beat Paraguay 3-0 which took them to the Semi Finals were they would meet Argentina.

Moorhouse who must have only ever played in front of small crowds at Prenton Park and in the American league now found himself preparing to run out to a staging 112,000 supporters in the Centenario Stadium. The game was a flop for Moorhouse and the team as injuries led to the Argentineans hammering the USA team 6-1.

The USA team finished third in the first World Cup after Yugoslavia refused to play America after losing their semi final. No other USA team has finished higher than Moorhouse and the rest of the 1930 team.

In 1934 the USA team was again asked to compete in the World Cup in Italy and this time George Moorhouse would captain the team. This made Moorhouse the first Englishman to captain a World Cup team.

Unfortunately the American team’s first round game was against the hosts Italy who beat Moorhouse and his team 7-1 knocking them out of the tournament. Italy went on to win the second World Cup.

After his footballing career he moved to Longbeach California and became a postmaster. Sadly though in 1943 he suffered a hear attack whilst driving with his wife. Both were killed in the accident, Moorhouse was only 41 years old.

Although his time at Tranmere was brief and uneventful we should remember this other great 1930s football and perhaps his achievements should be recognised at the English Hall of Fame.

Every Saturday whether in the Kop or a distant away stand somewhere in the country Tranmere fans can be heard cheering on the Rovers team usually to the chant of the Super White Army. The white that Tranmere play in has now become most recognised aspect of the club.

But as many may already know Tranmere have only been the Super White Army for fifty years of the club’s hundred and twenty nine year history. Way back in 1884 the Tranmere players wore blue shirts and white shorts. Why they chose blue is unclear but for nearly eighty years Tranmere were the blue army.

There was an early attempt to change Tranmere colours to a somewhat bizarre kit combination. In 1889 Tranmere played in maroon and orange shirts, navy shorts and white socks. Although Tranmere won their first silverware in the kit (Wirral Senior Cup) the design never really caught on and Tranmere reverted back to blue and white combination.

The blue shirts of Tranmere Rovers became an important symbol at the beginning of the 20th Century as their biggest rivals of the day Birkenhead FC played in red. For a decade the battle between the red and blue sides of the area took place with Tranmere being the victor in 1910 as Birkenhead FC folded.

Some of the biggest moments in the club’s history took place in blue shirts. In 1921 Tranmere played their first Football League game in the newly created Third Division in blue, their first filmed game against Chelsea in the 1930s was in blue and their only league title was won in blue.

Tranmere however were not the only team to play in blue and white in the Merseyside area. Everton had played in the same kit for even longer than Tranmere had and the two kits were identical in black and white. Even Liverpool who played in red shirts and white shorts looked the same as Tranmere in black and white.

At this time Tranmere lacked their own individual identity to separate themselves from their larger neighbours across the Mersey.

One man saw this lack of identity as a major hurdle to Tranmere becoming a successful team in Merseyside. Dave Russell joined Tranmere as their new manager in December 1961 and he saw great potential in the club. His efforts in the developing a youth policy led to some of Tranmere’s greatest players becoming home grown. The likes of Alan King, Joe Pritchard, Ronnie Moore and Bobby McFarland were all products of his system.

However his most recognisable contribution to the club was the introduction of a new colour scheme for the home kit. Russell wanted Tranmere to stand out against the red of Liverpool and the blue of Everton, so he chose an all white kit with the club badge making its first appearance on the shirt.

This new image would start the rievival of football at Prenton Park as Russell guided Tranmere out of their 1950s slump. With an almost none existent budget Russell managed to secure the quality players such as Barry Dyson, John Manning and George Yardley. He even managed to secure the services of the Everton legend Dave Hickson.

The new players and their new kit made their debut in the 1962-63 season with the hope that success would follow the new identity. However the 62-63 season would be better remembered not for the goals scored or Tranmere 6-1 win over Hartlepool, no instead its remembered for the snow.

In the winter of 1962 and three was one of the worst in recorded history with snow lying on the ground for months. This played havoc with the fixture list for many weeks with few games taking place across the country.

One game it was decided should go ahead in the Third Round of the FA Cup as Prenton Park played host to Chelsea. As this was the only game to take place that weekend the BBC came up to Prenton Park to give the Super White Army their first appearance on Match of the Day (it was called Sportview then). With their new kits and identity Tranmere were going to be given the opportunity play one of the biggest teams in the land on Television.

In their all white kits and on the snow covered pitch at Prenton Park Tranmere held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw and a replay at Stamford bridge.

The new all white identity and the class signings of Russell saw Tranmere spend the next few seasons finishing in the top ten only just missing out on promotion. But in 1967 Tranmere finally rejoined the Third Division and under Russell saw a great period of success for the new Super White Army.

Goodison (unknown game)

The Aintree Munitions Ladies team had spent several months visiting grounds in Wirral, Chester, Wrexham, St Helens and yet they had never actually played a game in the city they lived and worked in, Liverpool.

Touring the more provincial towns did however give the ladies the opportunity to perfect their skills as footballer in front of ever growing crowds. The introduction of the Haymarket Munitions Ladies added a new dimension as the ladies could play a team not handicapped like many of the men’s teams they played.

By April 1918 the Aintree Ladies had raised around £600 for the Sportsman’s Ambulance fund and played in front of an estimated 30,000 spectators over the months. With increasing interest in the ladies game it would only be a matter of time before a ground more use to men’s First Division football would request the lady’s services.

The game at Prenton Park in 1918 had heavily involved the Everton Chairman of Directors Mr W R Clayton and so it was not surprising he arranged for the Aintree Munitions Ladies to play Haymarket Munitions Ladies at Goodison.

The Aintree Ladies would make their debut at one of the county’s great stadiums on Easter Monday with a high attendance expected. The Liverpool Echo carried an article claiming the women had scored 55 goals this season without conceding a single goal. Although completely untrue the Aintree Ladies were the stronger side going into the game.

Unlike previous games the match at Goodison was to raise funds for the Fallen and Disabled Footballers Fund.

Although the local press had lost a fair amount of enthusiasm for the ladies matches they gave the game at Goodison a good billing.

Aintree kicked off and their dominance of the game began as Haymarket struggled to make it past Miss Geddes and Burrows in the Aintree defence. Miss Geddes was described as ‘Thompson like’ and received great applause from the spectators.

Aintree however struggled as the Echo stated the length of the pitch was too much for the ladies who failed to score from their breakaways due to being so tried from the run up field.

By the end of the first half the scored stood at 0-0 with Aintree failing to capitalise on their dominance.

The slightly longer interval however gave the ladies time to regroup and both teams came out with much more vigour. Aintree however came out the better side pressuring the Haymarket defence time after time. But the best efforts of the Haymarket defence could not stop Aintree and Miss Williamson drew first blood for . Molyneux, one of Aintree’s top scorers made it two from a corner and then scored the third.

Aintree won a penalty which Molyneux stepped up to take, however Haymarket’s Miss Blacklock cleared the shot with no difficulty. This did not dampen Aintree though as they scored their fourth from a free kick. Miss Reece eyed up the goal, shot and found the back of the net.

The final score was 4-0 to Aintree.

The attendance of at the game is not clear but according to Everton FC records the gate receipt for the game was £211 13s 4d, which was a considerable sum.

Several days after the game an opinion piece was place in the Liverpool Echo about the game which summed up well the changing attitude towards the ladies game ‘Many must have gone to Goodison Park on Monday Morning for a pantomimical affair, and they had their eyes opened. There were laughable incidents of course but some of the players showed such good form that the possibilities of Ladies football had to be recognised.’

By playing at Goodison the home of one of the biggest men’s team in the country Aintree and Haymarket had come of age in the sporting world. From this one would expect the two teams to go even further…….but did they…..?

Over the summer one of the great names in Merseyside Football passed away but his achievements will always be remembered. Dave Hickson held the rare achievement of playing for Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere during his career. However he was not the only player to have played for all three Merseyside teams.

For a man who spent the majority of his playing career in Merseyside Dave Hickson was originally from Salford. As child however he moved with his family to Ellesmere Port were he started his Football career. Ellesmere Port Town had already produced the likes of Joe Mercer and Hickson would soon be added to the list of Ellesmere Port greats.

Like Mercer Hickson joined Everton in 1948 but didn’t make his debut until 1951 as he was called up for National Service. Whilst in the Army he came across the Tranmere and Everton legend Dixie Dean who was coaching the Cheshire Army Cadets team.

When Hickson made his debut for the then Second Division Everton side he became an instant favourite with his physical style of Football. By 1954 Hickson’s efforts helped Everton back into the First Division but to much surprise Hickson was sold to Aston Villa. He never settled at Villa and after a short spell under Bill Shankly at Huddersfield Town he returned to Goodison Park.

Hickson however couldn’t find his original form and was sold to the club across Stanley Park, Liverpool FC. Everton fans were in despair at one of their favourites signing for their biggest rivals. Hickson however let his football do the talking scoring twice in his Anfield debut.

By 1961 Hickson was 32 and the then Manager Shankly had to let Hickson go for younger blood. After spending a limited time with Cambridge United and Bury Hickson found himself at Prenton Park.

Originally joining Tranmere in July he played in the Reserves in the Cheshire League. Record attendances were achieved at the Reserve games as 10,000 fans were recorded at each game as everyone wanted to see the Merseyside legend.

He was soon in the first team for Tranmere Rovers and his first home game was against Hartlepool. The game finished 6-1 to Rovers with Hickson receiving the credit for Tranmere’s success as the Echo stated ‘It was through Hickson’s astute leadership that the home attack was welding into a smooth working and penetrating force.’

Hickson’s age however caught up with the player who only made 52 appearances for Tranmere but he still scored 25 goals. After Tranmere he returned to Ellesmere Port and became a bookmaker.

Hickson had played for all three Merseyside clubs but he was not the first as that accolade fell to a goal keeper Frank Mitchell. This Scotsman started his career in Merseyside at Everton but struggled to beat Elisha Scott for the first team position.

He joined Liverpool in 1920 but didn’t make his debut until the February of 1921 and only made 18 appearances for the Reds.

After breaking his wrist in a Reserve game in 1923 he moved across the River to Tranmere Rovers. His first game for the Wirral club was against Grimsby which Tranmere won 2-1. Little fanfare was made of the goalkeeper with his only mention in post match reports being ‘…Carmichael, the Grimsby Centre man nearly had Mitchell beat after the Ex Evertonian had misjudged a centre from M’kenna.’ In all Mitchell made 55 appearances for Rovers and left the club in 1925.

The third man of Merseyside was John (Jackie) Heydon, who like the Hickson and Mitchell started out with Everton Reserves in 1946. The Birkenhead lad however soon moved onto Liverpool in 1949 but had to wait until 1950 for his debut at Anfield. After making 67 appearances for Liverpool he moved to Tranmere in 1956 where he made 76 appearances and scored one goal during his time at Prenton Park.

These three men all had differing success during their playing careers but each can truly claim to be a Merseyside man, representing all its colours.