|It all started
for Tranmere in the Sainty's Cocoa House - a place that was made
entirely out of chocolate derivatives. The members of Belmont and
Lyndhurst Wanderers cricket clubs discussed what they should do when the
season finished and "Football" was the answer. And so
Belmont AFC were formed in 1884 and
on 16th Sept 1885 became Tranmere
Rovers. Within four years, the club almost ceased to be when the
players all left to join another club (probably one that had more
chocolate), but they soldiered on through those early years. In
fact, in 1923-24, the side went the first nine games of the season
unbeaten and later that season they blooded a youngster called Dixie
Dean too. In stark contrast, the 1938-39 campaign saw the club
lose 31 out of 42 games, gaining only one point away from home and
finishing 14 points below the next highest club. They managed a
big match score in 1935 though, when they trounced Oldham Athletic 13-4
in a game that equalled the top League score in Division Three North, as
Bunny Bell grabbed 9 of the goals.
World War came as a relief to the club. The ground was commandeered
and used as a place to produce black smoke to fool German bombers.
Unfortunately, they didn't fool them or, if they did, they missed the
chip shops and hit the ground instead !! Their defence of the
realm was helped by tank traps being placed on the pitch (something that
could have been useful in the modern game to stop marauding forwards),
but after the conflict, these were used as foundations for new terracing
at the ground. It was a rocky re-start for Rovers, but they stood
their ground and got some reward in FA Cup ties. Into the Fifties
they took four goes to beat Blyth Spartans in 1951-52 in the second
round and then Harold Atkinson hit Ashington for 6 in the same
competition, but it took until 2000 to reach their furthest in the FA
Cup, getting to the quarter-final thanks to a substitution mix-up, which
the referee didn't spot when he sent a Tranmere player off against
Sunderland !! They had gone one better semi-final of the League
Cup six years before, when they took Aston Villa to penalties before
losing out. In 2000, they had got to face Leicester City in the
League Cup final, losing out to the Foxes.
In 1959, the
team recorded the highest Division 3 win of 9-0 over Accrington Stanley
and Jim Fryatt scored the quickest goal in Football League history in
four seconds for Bradford Park Avenue when they played Tranmere.
And that was in the days before betting on football matches - strange as
the player is was at one time a croupier in a Las Vegas casino !!
Times were hard
at Prenton Park in the 70's and in 1977-78, the team was unchanged for
the first 28 matches of that season, with only five games featuring
different personnel from those 11 after that during the campaign.
This reflected the fact that Harold Bell made 401 consecutive matches in
a record breaking run without his place being challenged. Even
when John Aldridge joined to score 170 league goals for the club in the
twilight of his career, he had to pick himself when player-manager due
to lack of competition for his place in the forward line.
their football in Division Two after relegation in 2001, Tranny are the
third team on Merseyside (even though they are on the Wirral), although
at times in the Cup they looked like moving up one rung at least.
: - Bunny Bell, John Aldridge, Alf "Rabbit" Warren, Ian
Muir, Tom "Pongo" Waring,
Famous Fans :
- Half Man Half Biscuit (Post Punk musical combo),
Patricia Routledge (Actress - "Keeping
Ray Stubbs (BBC Sport presenter), Trevor Ward (Granada TV
- "Reportage"), Warrior ("Gladiators"),
Welsby (Football presenter - Granada TV)