Tranmere Rovers are at the innocent New Lawn on the 1st of May.
The Superwhite Army are familiar opponents. Rovers fans will obviously fondly remember the 3-1 win at Wembley in 2017 that took Rovers into the football league. Since then, Tranmere did win promotion to League the following year, beating Boreham Wood 2-1 in another Wembley play-off final. They followed this in 2019 with a second successive promotion, defeating Newport 1-0 in another play-off final at Wembley. This was after an aggregate 2-1 semi final win against Rovers. In spite of being on a good run of form, albeit while in the League 1 relegation zone, the pandemic ended the 2019/20 season and Tranmere were relegated on the ‘points per game’ formula. Their Chairman, Mark Palios, threatened legal action against what he felt was an unfair decision and said that 20 staff would be have to be made redundant as a consequence.
Back in League 2 again the fixture at Prenton Park agaimst FGR in January saw Tranmere win 3-2. Goals from Whitehouse & Wagstaff were only consolations as Lewis, Vaughan & Feeney goals made sure that Tranmere were always ahead in the match.
Tranmere currently sit 5th in the League 2 table, 5 points above FGR in 8th. They are almost assured of the play-offs but they trail Bolton and Cambridge by 4 and 5 points respectively with 2 games remaining. They aren’t favourites for an automatic promotion place but they won’t have given up hope!
Tranmere’s most potent weapon this season has been their striker, James Vaughan. Vaughan started his career at Everton (and still holds the record for being the youngest ever goalscorer in the Premier League). Now 32, Vaughan has had spells at Derby, Leicester, Palace, Norwich, Huddersfield, Birmingham, Sunderland, Wigan & Portsmouth. Vaughan has 18 goals so far this season, double the tally of his nearest rival, team-mate Kaiyne Woolery.
James Vaughan is Tranmere’s danger-man.
Rovers will remember Kaiyne Woolery, ironically particularly for his Wembley exploits against Tranmere in 2017 when Rovers won promotion to the EFL. Woolery moved to Swindon for 3 seasons immediately after that final, before signing for Tranmere in 2020.
A fond memory of Kaiyne Woolery at the 2017 play-off final.
Tranmere, with an average pre-pandemic gate of around 6,500 are the 4th best supported team in League 2. They are often seen as the 3rd team on Merseyside, living in the shadow of Liverpool and Everton on the other side of the river. One famous Tranmere supporter is Premier League referee, Mike Dean. Many Rovers fans will know this, after the infamous photograph of Dean celebrating Tranmere’s victory over Rovers at The New Lawn in the 2019 League 2 play-off semi-final.
Mike Dean gets carried away with enthusiasm!
Tranmere have been a football league side since the 1920’s. Their relegation to the National League between 2015 and 2018 has been their only spell in non-league football. They had a number of seasons in the 2nd tier in the 1990’s but for the majority of their existence Tranmere have been a 3rd tier club.
The club’s most famous son is probably John Aldridge, a former player and manager at the club. Aldridge scored 50 goals in a 4-season Liverpool career but his Tranmere career spanned 7 seasons in which he scored 138 times in 243 appearances.
Tranmere was once a village but is now subsumed into Birkenhead, on the Wirrall, just over the Mersey from Liverpool. The club have played at Prenton Park (below) for over 100 years.