Archives for posts with tag: New Brighton Tower Ground

Tranmere New Ground

Prenton Park has throughout its history been a fairly modest ground which in many respects reflects the club’s success over the years. It wasn’t until the 1990s that major development took place at the ground in readiness for Premier League football.

The expansion and redevelopment of Prenton Park in 1990s was not the first attempt to bring the ground up to the standards of top flight football as in 1936 the club had grand ambitions for Tranmere and Prenton Park.

Tranmere had joined the Football League in 1921 and by the 1930s it looked as though the club could reach the Second Division for the first time. By 1936 the club had finished in the top half of the table every season and managed to secure forth on two occasions and in the 1935-36 Tranmere had finished third. Although they had not secured promotion they were one of the most promising teams in the Third Division North.

Alongside increased success in the league attendance to games was slowly growing with matches attracting five figure crowds. New Brighton in October 1933 saw attendance of over 10,000, in 1935 the game against Chester saw over 13,000 and in 1936 17,000 turned out to welcome Chesterfield to Prenton Park.

With such high attendance Prenton Park needed to improved, especially as it had changed little since opening in 1912. Some improvements had been made to the Kop in the 1935-36 but mostly to stabilise the structure rather than to expand it.

In February of the 1936 the Board had began a campaign to see improvements made to Prenton Park through the 100 shillings (£5,000) money drive. The aim was simple; raise 100 shillings to help pay for major changes or even a new ground, however by June little money had been raised.

Although the funds had not been as forthcoming as the Board would had hoped plans were announced in the Birkenhead News in late June for new dressing rooms. Architect and Surveyor John Escoline was tasked with replacing the shed which currently housed the club’s dressing rooms.

With the funds for a new ground failing to meet the target set by the Board Tranmere fans were shocked that only a week after John Escoline was tasked with designing a new dressing rooms that his plans for a new stadium were published in the Birkenhead News.

The plans showed the ground being pushed back from Borough Road and Prenton Road West to allow for more spectators to congregate out side the ground and to allow for much larger stands to be built.

The capacity of the ground in 1936 was a modest fifteen thousand but the new ground would see the capacity increased to seventy thousand. The new ground would bring Prenton Park up to the same level many of the First Division sides of the day which clearly reflected the ambitions of the club.
The cost of the new ground was estimated at around £15,000 and was scheduled to be ready for the 1937-38 season. However construction of the new dressing rooms was already underway by the time the new plans were announced in the press.

In 1937-38 Tranmere finished top and were crowned champions of the Third Division and in turn promoted to the Second Division. Winning the club’s first major league title in front at 70,000 fans must have been a sight to see, however it never happened.

After the plans for the new ground were announced the entire enterprise went quiet with no mention ever made of it again. The new dressing rooms were finished but no further work was undertaken at Prenton Park until the 1960s.

So what happened? There are no records of what changed the Board’s mind about the new stadium but one factor probably helped changed their mind, attendance. Although the club had seen some of their highest attendances for certain games on average most matches only attracted around seven thousand fans, which would only fill a tenth of the new stadium.

Although promotion was likely and bigger team would be coming to Prenton Park there was no guarantee that more fans would come. In 1899 New Brighton Tower Football Club joined the Second Division with a team full of England and Scotland internationals playing at their 80,000 capacity stadium.

They entertained the likes of Newton Heath (Manchester United) and Woolwich Arsenal on regular basis but the big name players and competitively large teams still failed to bring more than a thousand fans to the Tower ground. The club folded in 1901.

The simple fact was for both Tranmere and New Brighton Tower was that the borough’s population was too small for such big grounds especially with so many fans crossing the Mersey to watch football in Liverpool.

Dick Kerr Ladies 1922

By the mid point of 1918 sources on the Aintree Ladies team start to become fewer and fewer as the local papers carry only a hand full of articles on the team.

After the game at Goodison many must have thought that the Aintree Ladies were here to stay. This must have seemed even more unlikely as they took on the biggest team in the country, Dick Kerr’s Ladies from Preston.

An article in the Liverpool Echo stated that the two teams had already met but no source evidence could be found for this game. Their second game however was to take place at the New Brighton Tower Ground just across the Mersey on the Wirral.

Its unlikely many would recognise this ground today but in the early 20th Century the ground was one of the largest in area boasting 60,000 capacity. The New Brighton Tower Company had built the ground as a summer attraction and it was used for Football in the winter.

The Tower Ground had been home to New Brighton Tower FC who were a founding member of the Second Division. But tiny attendances meant the team only lasted two seasons.

For the Aintree team playing at the Tower Ground was not a step down and was a fitting place to play Dick Kerr’s Ladies.

The game had received very little promotion so the attendance was extremely low but still managed a gate receipt of £300.

In the Liverpool Echo a short description was given of the game which simply stated that Dick Kerr’s Ladies had won 1-0. The article also stated about the game ‘As a game it was quite interesting, fairly fast, and was a surprise to those who believe it would be a shoving match…’

The article went on to say the coaching of Mr Little had really improved the Aintree Ladies performance in recent months. However Dick Kerr’s were the better side with the article sating ‘But Preston’s representatives were the bigger and better in height and weight and in the defence they had a habit of packing their goal that made Aintree look crushed out.’

Although the article had little mention of the game it did carry a sizable opinion piece titled ‘Come to Stay-Not Come to Blows’ discussing whether Ladies football would continue to grow.

The author believed ‘I think their stay will be long in the lad of Football. They have a keen sense of the right thing to do, keep the ball on the turf and show stamina that one could not have thought possible.’

Continuing on such a positive note the article stated that they could head balls well and ‘…did not spin when the ball hit their curly locks.’ Alongside this the ladies very rarely lost their cool or came to blows with other players.

With such praise one would have believed that like Dick Kerr’s the Aintree Ladies would continue to rise. But if the quantity of sources is anything to go by then they pretty much fell of the face of the earth. After this game the Liverpool Echo made only one glancing mention of the team was made around a game against the Amatol Munitions Ladies team which was postponed.

The team seem to rise and catch the imagination of the local press and public but in the long term they fell into obscurity. Why is difficult to answer without the source material but perhaps a lack of different opponents had led to the public to become disinterested.

What ever the reason for their sudden departure from the world of Football their legacy should not be forgotten as their contributions laid the foundations for the meteoric rise in the Ladies game of the 1920s.