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“Mark and Nicola have the club's best interests at heart, and that has meant making tough calls on season ticket prices, budgets and the like, which has upset some supporters”
Tranmere’s owners have steadied the ship after three years in the National League, but some Rovers fans want to see faster progress, as A Trip to the Moon’s Matt Jones explains
Friday 3 February 2023
Tranmere rather enjoy taking something back to the Wirral when they visit Stockport. Last time they were in town, they took all three points back to Merseyside, along with fragments of the Railway End crossbar. They’ve only won two of their last ten games in SK3, but they do usually have something to take home with them, as they’ve picked up a point on six of those occasions. We’ve not beaten our north-west rivals at home in the league since August 1999, when a late Tony Dinning penalty took us top of Division One. Let’s hope for another penalty tomorrow, or an own goal, or an act of God - basically any stroke of luck that will dust off our January cobwebs and allow us to start dreaming of the play-offs once more. I’m repeating myself for the fourth consecutive game, but we could still be in the top seven by 5pm tomorrow with three points. It won’t be easy, though. Rovers are unbeaten in three, including a win against the league leaders last week, and still harbour play-off aspirations of their own. Ahead of Tranmere’s first trip to Edgeley Park since 2010, I’ve had a good catch-up with Matt Jones from A Trip to the Moon.
Final call for tomorrow’s fundraising event at Our Lady’s in Stockport. There’s only six tickets left now. Loads of County fans will be there. If you fancy joining them, details are in the image below.
Today’s edition is sponsored by Riks Garden Fencing & Landscaping, who have a fantastic offer for our readers. If you’ve got any work that needs doing in your garden this month, quote “SFX 10” and you’ll receive a 10% discount.
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My best mate is head groundsman at Edgeley Park. Last time you lot came to SK3 you snapped the crossbar in two. Do you promise not to do that again?
Ha! I don't think there's going to be quite the same level of euphoria this time as there was in 2010, but you never know…
You had Dave Challinor on your podcast recently. How was he?
Dave was brilliant. I know him a little bit anyway from interviewing him about Tranmere related stuff in the past. He obviously achieved a lot during his playing career at Prenton Park: a League Cup final, two FA Cup quarter-finals, and all the long throws in between, so he's a popular bloke and he's got plenty of great stories to tell.
What’s your opinion on your chairman, Mark Palios?
Mark and his wife Nicola both have the club's best interests at heart when making any decisions, and that has meant making tough calls on season ticket prices, budgets and the like, which has upset some supporters. Ultimately, whoever bought Tranmere from Peter Johnson in 2014 had a very tough job on their hands. Rovers were failing, on and off the pitch, and Mark and Nicola have spent nine years trying to address that. Their belief is that trying to fix the off-field stuff will in hand help matters on the field. Some fans will tell you that's the wrong way to go as it means they've taken their eye off the ball with the playing side, whereas others are quite content. Either way, unless they were going to pump millions into the club and we were winning every week, which we knew was never going to be the case, they were always going to get criticism from some quarters.
What’s it like having Liverpool and Everton on your doorstep?
Probably exactly the same as having United and City on your doorstep. It's not ideal, it's certainly not great for trying to grow the club in an area where people find it easier to drift towards the more successful sides, and it means you don't get the media coverage you'd like. Arguably, though, I'd say the hardest thing is trying to bring players through at youth level as there are so many more options higher up the ladder to go to before you end up at Tranmere. Granted, our academy isn't what it was after it was stripped back in 2018, but even so, it would be good to see youth products coming through like they used to.
You’re only a point behind us at the moment. What are your chances of making the play-offs?
Very good, I think. I don't think League Two is particularly strong this season, and my opinion would be that Tranmere have recognised that with the business they have conducted in the transfer market. It's very tight and the arrivals of Regan Hendry, Logan Chalmers and Stephen Walker strengthen the squad, as do Harvey Saunders and Jay Turner-Cooke. There's a real opening for the top seven, or even top three - just look at what Bristol Rovers did last year. If any team can find some momentum and string some results together, they've got a chance, and after three wins in six, I hope that's Rovers.
How’s Jon Nolan doing this season?
He’s barely kicked a ball!
Best and worst memories following Tranmere?
There have been a lot of very good ones, and a lot of very bad ones. Top one for me would be the 2018 National League play-off final at Wembley, when, having followed the club since 1995, I finely witnessed a promotion, courtesy of James Norwood's late goal. For the worst, I guess there are quite a few, including a 3-0 defeat to Mansfield in 2015 that basically sealed relegation to the National League, but I think it would be when lockdown came in 2020. The club were on an upward curve having won three games in a row, but our fight against going down to League Two was taken out of our hands by some quite frankly pathetic decision-making that led to points-per-game being used to decide our fate. Tranmere had a game in hand at that point, and our next few games were all against teams around us in the table. It was a farce.
How was your experience in non-league football? We spent eleven seasons down there, but you managed to get back up in three.
There were a lot of things to like about the three years in the National League. Granted, I wouldn't have wanted it to be any longer, but you've got to consider that it came after 13 straight years in League One and back-to-back relegations. Everything had gone a bit stale. The club had shown little ambition at going up and had forgotten how to win games. The National League was a reset moment. We became a force again, winning matches and battling for promotion with a team who everybody could relate to and players who will forever be etched in the club's history. That was carried on by a promotion straight up to League One as well, so it set Tranmere up well. On top of that, after years and years of going to the same grounds and basically seeing the same result, it was a chance to go to new places, the likes of North Ferriby and Guiseley. So although you'd never want to be there, the memories are certainly good.
Tranmere’s last 10 seasons
2012-13: League One, 11th
2013-14: League One, 21st (R)
2014-15: League Two, 24th (R)
2015-16: National League, 6th
2016-17: National League, 2nd (lost play-off final)
2017-18: National League, 2nd (won play-offs)
2018-19: League Two, 6th (won play-offs)
2019-20: League One, 21st (R)
2020-21: League Two, 7th (lost play-off semi)
2021-22: League Two, 9th
What’s your prediction for tomorrow’s game?
It seems like Tranmere have found a bit of positivity after beating Leyton Orient and enjoying a busy final few days in the transfer market, so I feel like we might be on the verge of going on a bit of a run. Given that, I fancy our chances. Josh Hawkes has been in good form, and we’ve managed to keep hold of Ethan Bristow and Josh Cogley during the window, so I'll go for a 1-0 win.
Who’s more likely to reach the play-offs, County or Tranmere? Who’s the more annoying neighbours, United and City or Liverpool and Everton? And what punishment should we dole out to Tranmere fans if they snap the crossbar again tomorrow? Share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments below.
Enjoy a 10% discount on any fencing or landscaping work that needs doing
It’s been a bloody cold few weeks hasn’t it? Numerous County games have fallen victim to the weather, but the good news is that spring isn’t far away. It won’t be long before you can get your friends and family round for a few beers and a barbecue. So now’s the time to get your garden sorted out. And this month you can receive a 10% discount on any work that needs doing. Simply give Riks Garden Fencing & Landscaping a call and quote “SFX 10”.
Here’s something you should definitely do in February
The Scarf My Father Wore editor, Des Junior, absolutely loves a County quiz. He’s alright at compiling County quizzes as well. Rightly or wrongly, he also fancies himself as a bit of a comedian. On that note, The Scarf My Father Wore are delighted to team up with Bask to bring you The Comedy County Quiz. It’s a proper County quiz, with some fantastic prizes on offer, but our aim is to crack you up with some of the questions along the way.
We’ve also got special guest Paul Jones joining us. The former County defender, and Bolton Wanderers legend, will be speaking on the night, as well as handing out the prizes to the winners!
On this day in 2001
The last time we played Tranmere in February was on this very day, back in 2001. As mentioned above, recent home games with Tranmere have often ended in a draw, and this one was no exception. Only just, mind. Rovers needed a last minute equaliser from Paul Rideout to rescue a point, after Aaron Wilbraham’s 39th minute opener.
Never mind Google or Yell.com, we’ve got you covered
STOP! That got your attention, didn’t it? Just a quick one… I’d hazard a guess that at some point in February, all of our readers will use Google or Yell.com at some point looking for a particular product or service. But before you do, please have a quick look at our own directory to see if we have what you’re looking for. A number of great businesses support The Scarf My Father Wore, allowing us to publish fresh content every day, so let’s send a few enquiries their way in return.
Photo of the day
Power & Page, Alderley Edge
He’s still a handsome chap, isn’t he? Before enjoying lunch with his son Jon in Alderley Edge yesterday, Fitzy popped into Power & Page for a trim. What better way to round off today’s edition of The Scarf My Father Wore than a snap of this wonderful man.