Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tranmere Rovers - Prenton Park


Tranmere Rovers FC
Prenton Park
Prenton Road West
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH42 9PY

0871 221 2001
Official Website
Twitter






Ground Number: 62
Saturday 3rd November 2001
Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2






TEN FACTS ABOUT TRANMERE ROVERS FC

1:  The club was established in 1884 as Belmont FC, adopting their current name a year later. They started out playing at Steeles Field before moving to a ground purchased from Tranmere Rugby Club in 1887 before moving to Prenton Park in 1912.

2:  They started out in Non-League, mainly in the Lancashire Combination, winning it in 1908 and 1914. They'd return to Non-League for three seasons between 2015 and 2018, twice finishing as runners-up. The first occasion saw them reach the playoff final but lose out to Forest Green Rovers. However, they'd put things right the following year, beating Ebbsfleet United in the semis before defeating Boreham Wood 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

3:  Tranmere Rovers played in the Football League from 1921 to 2015 and from 2018 to present. They've played in all but the top tier, reaching the second tier playoffs three seasons in a row between 1993 and 1993, losing to Swindon Town, Leicester City and Reading in the semis. Their best finish was in 1993 when they finished 4th, their worst in 2015 when they finished bottom of the Football League and were relegated to the Conference.  

4:  The record run in the FA Cup is to the Quarter Finals which they've reached on three occasions. The most notable of these is during the 2000/01 season. They beat Portsmouth 2-1 in an all Division 1 clash in Round 3 before a 3-0 giant-killing win at local rivals Everton in Round 4. The 5th Round saw them take on another Premiership side, Southampton, the game going to a replay after a goalless draw and Tranmere coming back from three goals down to steal the limelight from Wycombe's remarkable win at Wimbledon on the same night. With Wycombe having confirmed their semi-final place on the Saturday at Leicester, I watched Tranmere's game at home to Liverpool hoping that Rovers would win. However, Liverpool prevailed 4-2 and went on to beat Wycombe in the semi-finals.



5:  In the League Cup, Tranmere Rovers reached the final in 2000. After overcoming Blackpool, Coventry City, Oxford United, Barnsley, Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers before a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City at Wembley.

6:  Other significant cup exploits include winning the Welsh Cup in 1935 against Chester, winning the Football League Trophy in 1990 against Bristol Rovers at Wembley and reaching the FA Trophy Semi-Finals in 2017 before losing to Macclesfield Town.

7:  Team records include a 13-4 win against Oldham in 1935, this remains a league record for goals in a game. A 9-1 loss against Spurs in an FA Cup 3rd Round replay in 1953 is their record defeat. Their record home crowd is 24,424 for a 1972 FA Cup game against Stoke City.

8:  Player records include appearances of 637 for Ray Mathias, goals 180 for Ian Muir whilst in a single season Bunny Bell scored 40 during 1934/35 as did John Aldridge in 1991/92.

9:  Famous Tranmere Rovers fans include Question Time anchorman David Dimbleby, musical band Half Man Half Biscuit, actresses Glenda Jackson & Patricia Routledge and sports presenters Ray Stubbs and Elton Welsby. 

10:  The club is based in Birkenhead, the population just under 89,000. Being a port town, it has a history in shipbuilding. As well as Tranmere Rovers, it's also home to North West Counties League side Cammell Laird who host Rovers reserves games. Other famous people from the area include Paul O'Grady, Elvis Costello, Everton legend Dixie Dean and rugby player Matt Dawson. Tranmere is a suburb of Birkenhead with a population of 15,879 and was home to one of the biggest air-raid shelters in the country with a capacity of 6,000.



MY PREVIOUS VISITS

My first visit to Prenton Park was in November 2001, though I don't recall a lot about it, bar visiting the Mersey Clipper pub. Lawrie Sanchez was still a popular man in those days, having taken the club to the FA Cup Semi-Final the previous season, however on later visits, the same could not be said - the visit in September 2003 was his last managing the club, having been sacked 3 games earlier, but being allowed to stay on so that he could try and earn himself a good send-off. The board could have looked very foolish if he had won all 3 games, but then common sense has never been found in abundance amongst the powers that be at Adams Park, at least in those days.



Later visits to Tranmere were more notable. As I mentioned above, Lawrie Sanchez got the sack after a loss up there. The 2-1 defeat was remarkable for a spectacular own goal from Danny Senda which eventually sealed the manager's fate. I recall hearing about the sacking in a service station on the way home and there were joyous scenes in the services, though it was sad the way Sanchez's reign ended as we had some good times under him. I missed the 3-0 victory there in 2010, the only game I didn't go to at Prenton Park with Wycombe until another victory in March 2015 when I opted to go to Stocksbridge Park Steels instead.  My fourth visit was in September 2011 where a dismal performance saw us lose 2-0. Tranmere were very poor and we were even worse. I wish my mate Paul had not persuaded me to go, we sat in a 2-hour traffic jam on the M6 and only arrived just before kick-off. Though on the upside, I did visit 4 grounds for pictures on the way home, the pick of which was Vauxhall Motors' Rivacre Park, amazingly, they'd won 5-1 at Halifax Town that day. It was a horrible day overall though and I wish I'd started groundhopping earlier.



VISIT 5: TRANMERE R 2-2 WYCOMBE W (FAC R1 9/11/19)


Back in June when the fixtures were released, Tranmere away was one of the games I was most looking forward to. I'd not been in 8 years and had not seen us win there yet, my visits conveniently avoiding the two wins that we got there. I was all set to go to the league game, but then Sky TV got their grubby hands on the game, switching it to a Sunday and making the kick-off at midday. I work every Sunday and so couldn't attend and would need a huge slice of luck to get home in time for the start of the TV broadcast. Then came the FA Cup draw, the games set for the week before out league clash. There was a great disappointment when we pulled out Tranmere away, though it was not a shock as we more often than not get a stinker of a draw. There was the crumb of comfort that I'd get to revisit Tranmere, but it was a tricky tie and the same game two weeks in a row. I was glad when tickets were announced at the bargain price of a tenner a pop and so booked on the Independent Supporters Coach. I'd had a busy week before the game and so gave my Friday night trip to Laverstock and Ford v Andover New Street the elbow as I was tired. The previous night, I'd gone to Wycombe to firstly see a Ken Loach movie called 'Sorry We Missed You' which was excellent and then Jonathan Pie at the Wycombe Swan which was OK but a bit of a disappointment. I'd had a few pints in between and so had a sober Friday night, watching TV and going to bed just after 9, I was that tired. As a result, I was awake at my normal work time of 4am and after trying and failing to go back to sleep, I got up just after 6. I had a bath and breakfast and after getting dressed and getting my things together, I made my way to the coach pickup point, arriving ten minutes early, the coach getting there five minutes late.




We were soon on our way after a couple of other pickups and was happy to bag a double seat to myself despite it being a small coach. The pubs that the Indies pick are a mixed bag, the logistics of needing somewhere to park a coach severely limits options. Usually, the worst bits are a bad cider selection and pricey food and a poor choice had led me to pull out of going to Sunderland away last season. The latest choice had both those things counted against it, although to be fair, this one was more mid-range pricing. I opted for the burger at £10.95 and added brie, bacon, chilli chutney and jalapenos for 50p each. The cider selection didn't look great though and the only drinks I could find evidence of were Strongbow Cloudy, Rhubarb 'cider' and worst of all Old Mout (or old shite as I call it) My preference would be the former out of those three, though I prefer something drier. This was the first coach outing for my new Chromebook and it was nice to be able to start typing the latest entry to my blog on a proper keyboard. The coach fare was £26 and once I'd paid this, I cracked on with planning next weeks football. Together with Chris, we decided upon Stowmarket Town for Tuesday, the trip dependent on the trains playing ball as he was coming back from Devon. We stopped at Stafford for ten minutes at 10:30 and with the usual rip off prices in operation, my only transaction was donating all the coins I had in my pocket to Help For Heroes. We were soon back on the coach and off up the M6, arriving at our pre-match pub, the Irby Mill at 12.05. I opted for a pint of Orchard Thieves at £4.15, not the greatest of ciders but not the worst either. I had four pints during my time there and although the cider wasn't the best, the food was spot on and wasn't added to my football expenses. We left at 2.05 and made good time to get to the ground twenty minutes later. A friendly steward got on our coach and said he had to take us 'around the block'. Ten minutes later we ended up about fifty yards from where we'd started, but at least it was right outside the away end. I walked around the other side of the ground to get some pictures and popped in the Mersey Clipper. This was supposed to have changed name and added real cider but it was the same as my visit around ten years ago, only with ten years wear and tear. From there, I purchased a Tranmere fanzine and made my way around to our side of the ground going in ten minutes before kick-off.



There was the typical friendly welcome but the facilities were disappointing. Despite the fancy names for the burgers and hot dogs, it was the same old overpriced crap that you get at most grounds. I met a few people I know, getting to a decent seat well before kick off. The game was pretty decent, Wycombe started very sloppily and conceded in the opening five minutes, Kieron Morris capitalising on some slack defending to finish well. It may well have been more, but eventually, Wycombe got back into the game. On 26 minutes, Wycombe were awarded a free-kick for a foul. Joe Jacobson made no mistake with the set-piece, much to the delight of the Wycombe fans. We then had a really good spell, going close on a couple of occasions. Half time came with the scores level but the second half started with both teams having periods of play. On 55 minutes a square ball found Alex Samuel and he finished neatly to give Wycombe the lead for the first time in the match. We had a couple of chances to further extend their lead but didn't take them. In the end, Tranmere caught us on the break and it was Morris again that got the equaliser on 67 minutes. From there, both teams had passages of play but didn't create much. The fans applauded the players off and made their way home. It would mean a replay at Adams Park, probably in eleven days time. For me, it was back to the coach and soon everyone was on there and we were heading back south. I was hoping the journey would go quickly and so listened to the radio whilst typing my blog. There would be no match of the day tonight, the remembrance day celebrations pushing it back until 11, so I was going to grab an early night. The journey home passed quickly as it took me some time to edit my photos compared to back home on my desktop, though at least my journey was spent productively. The driver needed his rest stop and so it was a ten-minute break at Norton Canes, though with me thirsty, I wasn't too bothered. I got back on the coach and hopefully uploaded my blog from here, the rest of the evening would be spent making my way home and having a couple of drinks with whatever I could find worth watching before hopefully going to bed at a reasonable hour, what with work at 4 am in the morning.




THE GROUND

PRENTON PARK is one of the bigger and better grounds in League 1 at present. Visiting fans are located in a large stand behind the goal, named the Cowshed, the view from which is excellent. To the left is a smaller stand, The Johnny King Stand with a capacity of around 2000. The Kop Stand at the other end is probably the biggest, and houses the main home support, singing wise with a capacity of 5,500. Finally to the right is the oldest stand in the stadium, the main stand, which is also fairly large, holding 6,000. 

The facilities at the ground are the usual limited choice and hiked prices that you get at every club. There are plenty of pubs and food places around the ground, so it should make for a good day out for most supporters. The fans up there are really friendly in the times I have been up, which makes for a relaxed atmosphere. Since my initial visits, a fan park has been added to the ground and if I visit, I will provide detail in my latest entry. As for pubs, the Birch Tree appears to do good food and real ales and cider, I visited under its previous name of The Mersey Clipper and enjoyed my visit. The pictures are all mine, bar the one of the away end which was obtained via a Google search some years ago.



2019 PICS

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