With the festive season in full swing, Tranmere are the latest side to travel to St James Park on Saturday.
Here’s an opposition outlook on the Merseyside club.
- Founded: 1884
- Nicknames: Rovers
- Honours: Division 3 (N) (1937/38), Welsh Cup (1935), Leyland DAF Cup (1990)
- Home Kit: PUMA White shirt with blue trim, white shorts, white socks
- Away Kit: PUMA Black hexagonal design shirt with blue trim, black socks and black socks
- Form: LLDWW (10th in League Two)
Formed in 1884 as Belmont, they adopted the present title a year later and joined the West Lancashire League ahead of the 1889/90 season. The club almost folded a year later when the players left en bloc to join a rival club. Tranmere survived the crisis and went from strength to strength. They joined the Football League in 1921.
Tranmere is a suburban village outside the Wirral town of Birkenhead, on the south bank of the River Mersey. Birkenhead’s dock system is part of the famous Port of Liverpool with regular ferries to Dublin, Ireland. Local points of interest around the Wirral include Port Sunlight, a village built by the Lever Brother’s to house workers at the Soap factory, and Birkenhead Park which was the countries first publicly funded civic park.
A young Birkenhead player named William Ralph Dixie' Dean made his debut for Rovers at the age of just 16 years 355 days in 1924, a record that would stand for many decades. Dean scored 27 goals in 30 games for Tranmere, before being transferred across the River Mersey to Everton for £3,000, where he scored a British record 60 League goals in 1927-28.
The majority of Tranmere’s successes came in the 1930’s. In 1935, Rovers won the Welsh FA Cup and three years later celebrated their only league title, edging Doncaster to the title by 2 points. Rovers were helped in abundance by their free scoring striker Bunny Bell, who a season later scored nine (9) goals in a 13-4 victory over Oldham Athletic.
The club have usually played in Tiers 3 and 4 but throughout the nineties Tranmere were regulars in Division 1 (now the Championship). John King had guided them to promotion in 1992 and Liverpool legend John Aldridge took the reins in ’96. Aldridge took Rovers to the last League Cup final played at the old Wembley, but they couldn’t win the three handled cup being beaten by Leicester.
After a slight slide which saw them briefly play in the National League and back to League One, Tranmere were relegated back to the fourth-tier in 2020. Ahead of the weekend, Tranmere are just four points behind City with a game in hand, making Saturday’s game a proverbial six-pointer.
This season saw a heroes return to Tranmere for Micky Mellon. The Paisley born boss previously guided Tranmere from the National League to League One in consecutive years in his first spell at the club.
A cult hero on Merseyside, Mellon featured nearly 200 times for the “Super Whites” as a player before taking to the touchline in the mid-2000’s. Earning his bread at Fleetwood and Shrewsbury before his first stint at Prenton Park, Mellon briefly took to his native Scotland to manage Dundee United prior to returning in the summer.
- Name: Prenton Park
- Capacity: 16,587
- Year opened: 1912
- Record Attendance: 24,424 v Stoke City, 5th February 1972
- Address: Prenton Road West, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH42 9PY
The nearest Football League ground to the River Mersey, Prenton Park was opened in 1912 to replace Ravenshaws Field. The ground hosts both Tranmere and Liverpool Womens and Reserves games.
When manager Dave Russell joined the club in 1961, one of his many influential changes was playing regular home games on Friday nights rather than the usual Saturday afternoon. This allowed supporters to watch Tranmere on Fridays and First Division sides Everton or Liverpool on Saturdays.
In 2019, murmurs and discussions began in a new stadium for Tranmere to make the Wirral “a more exciting place to visit,” yet these plans haven’t bore fruit just yet.
One To Watch
Despite seeming a mid-table side, Tranmere would be far worse off without their talismanic Jay Spearing. Spearing has been rock solid in the centre of the park this season and has been vital to Tranmere’s defensive efforts.
The 33 year-old developed his trade down the road at Anfield as a youngster before moving to Bolton in 2013. A couple of successful years at the Uni of Bolton Stadium ensued before a switch across Lancashire to Blackpool.
Spearing was the marquee signing for Tranmere since their relegation back into League Two and has provided a goal and an assist so far this term as well as hundreds of crunching tackles.
It’s usually been grim reading for Exeter fans in the last few meetings with Tranmere, with the Merseyside team being on top. Ninety-nine goals have been shared in the 60-year-old rivalry, with only one 0-0 draw in 37 games.
City matched the fixture’s best ever result back in December with a 5-0 victory courtesy of a Ryan Bowman hat-trick. The record victory stood since 1963.
Exeter wins: 13
Tranmere wins: 20
Tranmere Rovers 2 Exeter City 1 | League Two | Prenton Park | March 20, 2021
Two Tranmere penalties proved the difference as Joel Randall scored with his last kick as an Exeter City player.
Exeter City 5 Tranmere Rovers 0 | League Two | St James Park | December 12, 2020
Ryan Bowman scored his second hat-trick of the season as City romped away with the points. Matt Jay and Jake Taylor also pitched into the party.
Exeter City 0 Tranmere Rovers 1 | League Two | St James Park | March 2, 2019
James Norwood’s strike took the points for Rovers.
The first ever Englishman to play in the World Cup finals was George Moorhouse, who appeared for the United States at Uruguay 1930. George played for Tranmere in the early 1920’s before emigrating to America and gaining US citizenship.
Tickets are now on sale for Saturday's game. Find all ticket info and purchase here!