As seen in Give Us An R, May 2019
It’s not often that I can say that I can relate to the kids. I mean, I can’t understand what they’re saying half the time, and I don’t like the music they listen to, but growing up a Tranmere fan now has many similarities to when I started following the Rovers back in the late 1980s.
Back then, Johnny King had come to take over our beloved club after spells as both a player and a manager. We hit what at the time was our lowest ebb, facing the prospect of falling out of the Football League. Kingy prevented that from happening and took us on a journey to the moon. A journey that crossed our paths with the stars. Aldridge, Nevin, Morrissey, O’Brien, Coyne, Teale. I could go on.
Trips to Wembley were a regular occurrence, the Mercantile Credit Festival in 1988 and then both the play-offs and Leyland Daf Cup Finals in both 1990 and 1991. And a couple of promotions as we went from Division Four (League Two in new money) to Division Two (the Championship as it’s now known).
Fast forward twenty odd years and look what’s happening again at Prenton Park.
Micky Mellon is in charge, a former player over two spells. He’s taken us out of non-league obscurity following two trips to Wembley. And we’re on the brink of promotion out of League Two at the first time of asking with another trip to Wembley on May 25.
The similarities are certainly there.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have started following Tranmere in such ‘glory days’. I always regale the story that four of the first eight Rovers matches I attended were at Wembley! It was good times, the atmosphere was great and everyone was enjoying our rise to ‘oh so nearly’ the Premier League.
I watched some of the best football, some fantastic players and really loved growing up supporting a successful team.
If only the success and good times lasted, eh?! All good things come to an end, as they say. But after a good decade and a half of not so good times, I can’t help but feel like those successful days of the early 1990s are returning to Wirral.
I’m writing this a couple of days after defeat to Oldham Athletic after a pretty dour performance. Typical Tranmere to end an impressive seven-match winning streak with a dreary defeat against a mid-table side with not much to play for. But regardless of that, the mood remains bright and positive, and quite rightly so.
We are in a great position to do something quite special. Micky and the team have, I believe, over exceeded expectations with what they’ve done this season. To be in a position like this was certainly beyond my wildest dreams at the beginning of the campaign, but they’ve done fantastically well with some really good football and it’s been a pleasure to watch.
The sounds of ‘Tequila’ are still ringing in my ears, and that atmosphere at Oldham demonstrated the positivity and belief the fans have in this team. No matter what happens in the remainder of the season, this team deserves a huge pat on the back for restoring the feel good factor at Prenton Park. No matter how bad the performance, and it was bad at Oldham, the fans are enjoying every minute. We’ve seen the bad times, the low points, the defeats to Welling and Woking. This is a good time, so let’s enjoy it. Those of us of a certain age know that it might not last that long!
I have an awful lot of time for Micky Mellon. Not only what I believe to be a fantastic manager, he’s a great guy too. And he gets Tranmere. Much like Johnny King got Tranmere. He knows what is expected of him and the team and it’s a great fit.
So, are we on for another ‘Trip To The Moon’? I don’t want to put any pressure on the manager or the players by saying. But it’s great to have those lofty dreams and ambitions back again. After years of trying to survive and stay up, Tranmere is a team that is challenging again. Competing at the upper echelons of our division. Making a name for ourselves once more. Long may that continue.