Tranmere Rovers

Tony Morris gives us a brief history of Tranmere Rovers

1885 Belmont FC change their name to Tranmere Rovers. Fielding players from a Methodist chapel, the righteous Rovers win their first home game 10-0 against Liverpool North End.

1925 Local boy made good Billy “Dixie” Dean scores 27 goals in 30 games and is promptly sold to Everton. Fans’ anger at the sale of a star player to local rivals is ignored.

1930-36 Rovers blow promotion three times, fuelling rumours that the club doesn’t want to go up. But “Bunny” Bell scores nine (and misses a penalty) in a 13-4 win against Oldham in 1935. So that’s all right, then.

1963 Clad in all-white in homage to Real Mad­rid, Tranmere grab centre stage as their 2-2 draw with Chelsea in the Cup is the featured game on Match of the Day, the big freeze wiping out just about every other game in England. “Los Blancos del Birkenhead” lose the replay 3-1.

1979 Disgraceful scenes at Prenton Park, as a hooligan attacks the visiting goalkeeper. Charlie Lindsay, 72, whacks the Bournemouth goalie across the but­­­tocks with his walking-stick as Tranmere crash 5-0. Presumably he couldn’t reach Rovers’ keeper Dickie Johnson.

1982 With attendances under 2,000, the club is two weeks away from closure. A council loan of £200,000 preserves League football in Wirral, and ensures I’ll aIways pay my council tax.

1987 Saved from bankruptcy again, this time by local boy made good Peter Johnson, Tranmere narrowly avoid dropping out of the League – Gary Williams’s late goal in the last game of the season keeps them up. So many fans turn up for the game that the stewards stop counting at 7,000.

1988 The Football League’s centenary celebrations provide Rovers with their first appearance at Wembley. Unexpected wins against Wimbledon and Newcastle put Rovers through to the next day’s semi-final, causing club officials to hurriedly book a hotel for another night.

Four more trips to Wembley net the Leyland-Daf Cup (the first trophy for over 50 years), and a place in the Second Division (ditto).

1993-95 Shades of the Thirties, as Rovers blow promotion three times, on this occasion via the play-offs. The width of a post (and some dodgy refereeing), denies Tranmere a place in the Coca-Choker Cup final. Disenchanted, Peter Johnson “sells” his shares to his close friend Frank Corfe and buys Everton.

1998-99 Uproar as Tranmere sell goalkeeper Steve Simonsen to Everton. Corfe resigns. Johnson assumes control by re-acquiring shares previously registered in Corfe’s name. Rovers (and Everton) are put up for sale. John Aldridge performs a minor miracle to keep Tranmere up .

With captain Kenny Irons’s departure unlikely to be the last, the millennium could see the start of a downward spiral. League derbies with Chester may not be too far away.

From WSC 151 September 1999. What was happening this month