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🔎 The Opposition: Tranmere Rovers (A)

Jed Penberthy takes a look at Saturday's opponents

18 March 2021

Exeter City will meander up to Merseyside this weekend to face Tranmere Rovers in a proverbial play-off six-pointer.

Ahead of the game we take a look at our Liverpudlian hosts.

  • 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:WWLWL (5th 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.

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 last season.

Tranmere are going into Saturday’s fixture off the back of a Papa John’s Trophy final loss on Sunday but have reasons to be optimistic against Exeter. Rovers are five points ahead of the Grecians but have played just one game more - drawing on Wednesday night to Grimsby.

The Manager

Keith Hill

The 51-year-old was appointed Tranmere boss in November after Mike Jackson was forced to Moonwalk out of the role after a Bad run of results. Hill has seen some Thriller results since taking over and until last week were Invincible; until they lost to Walsall.

Keith Hill.JPG

Keith Hill had a 400+ game playing career, twice winning the third division play-offs with Cheltenham Town and Plymouth. He went into management in 2006 at Rochdale before joining Barnsley. Within a year he returned to Spotland. A failed spell at Bolton led to his appointment at Prenton Park.

The Stadium

  • Name: Prenton Park
  • Capacity: 16,587
  • Year opened: 1912
  • Record Attendance: 24,424 v Stoke City, February 5, 1972
  • Address: Prenton Road West, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH42 9PY

Prenton Park.jpg

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

Jay Spearing

Tranmere’s sudden downturn of form has come since the loss of main-man up top James Vaughan, but through midfield Rovers still have an abundance of talent. Jay Spearing has been rock solid in the centre of the park this season and has been vital to Tranmere’s defensive efforts.

Spearing.jpg

The 32 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 Reebok/Macron/ 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 three assists and hundreds of crunching tackles.    

Head-to-Head

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 36 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
  • Draws: 9
  • Tranmere wins: 19

Recent encounters

Exeter City 5-0 Tranmere Rovers |, League Two | 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 0-1 Tranmere Rovers | League Two | March 2, 2019

James Norwood’s strike took the points for Rovers

Tranmere Rovers 2-0 Exeter City | League Two, | November 3, 2018

James Norwood’s brace succumbed City to defeat on the road.

Exeter City 1-2 Tranmere Rovers | League Two | January 31, 2015

Alex Nicholls’ strike did little to soften the blow, as Jennison Myrie-Williams and Rory Donnelly netted for the Merseyside outfit.

And Finally

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.

How to Watch

Whilst we would love you to be there, showing your passionate support for the Grecians, you can get the next best thing by purchasing a match pass at the cost of just £10 in the UK. The stream includes the live club commentary, score overlay and replays.

To purchase a match pass please click here.

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