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After a long hiatus Mark is back with a new story. Where will it take him?

Discussion
https://i.postimg.cc/y6J7c5G2/Tranmere-Web-Header.png

Collier at the double in FA Trophy win

https://i.postimg.cc/d1JvNFGP/Paul-Mullin.jpg

20 January 2024

An amazing finish to the game proved to be decisive for Rovers as they defeated hosts Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium.

Mark Duell made a number of changes for this FA Trophy Second Round tie with a crucial home National League game at home to Hartlepool United three days later. From the side that lost to Derby in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round replay, Bayleigh Passant started in between the sticks in place of regular first choice Thomas Hanlon. Ryan Reynolds replaced loanee Andràs Domokos at right back, Harrison Howard came in for Christian Mbulu, Emmanuel Eze for Caleb Richards, Sam Durrant for skipper Jon Murray and finally top scorer Jake Collier was rested for Marcus Sammons to come in. Quite a reshuffle.

Rovers would open the scoring after just nine minutes though. Reynolds crossing for Paul Mullin to strike the post with his first effort but the right-back reacted first to pull the ball back for the same striker who volleyed home his 12th goal of the season. However Eastleigh have been impressive this season, and that impressive nature would bring them two goals in five minutes just before half time. The first came in the 37th minute when Rovers failed to clear their defensive lines and winger Shane Stevenson poked home the ball under Passant. The second goal in the 42nd minute was the result of a Danny Lloyd corner, and George Armstrong (whom Mark Duell knows from the Wales Under-21 set up) headed home from six yards out.

Early in the second half Rovers were awarded a penalty when Mullin was clattered in the area. Up stepped Ollie Banks, but Dante Baptiste produced a remarkable reaction save to deny him. Facing elimination then, Rovers introduced Collier as a 51st minute substitute after Sammons had failed to spark. This substitution proved to be a masterstroke as the youngster led the comeback with three goals in the final 18 minutes. With 72 minutes gone, some great passing play saw Cedwyn Scott flight in a cross and Collier headed the ball into the corner past Baptiste who was rooted to the spot.

With extra time looming, could either side get a winner? Rovers took the lead as the fourth official prepared to appear with his board, Mullin's corner being met by a thumping header from Howard. Eastleigh now were looking for elimination and they pushed for a third. However, that push meant gaps at the back and Rovers exploited that with their fourth goal in the dying embers. Scott ran at the retreating home defence before picking out Collier, the youngster took a touch, then planted a sweet effort into the net. Who will Rovers get in Round Three?

Our team was:

Passant; Reynolds, Howard, Graham, Eze (Domokos 62); Ofoborh (Iversen 76); Durrant, Ollie Banks; Scott ©, Sammons (Collier 51); Mullin. Unused Substitutes: Hanlon, Joseph.

Attendance: 2229 (346 Rovers)
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Pools next up

https://i.postimg.cc/J0F1MnrW/FATrophy.jpg

22 January 2024

The draw for the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy has been made this morning.

After Saturday's remarkable comeback win at Eastleigh, Rovers will be at home in the last sixteen. They will face current FA Trophy holders Hartlepool United, Pools having won it last season against Macclesfield Town through Tyler Smith's dramatic 90th minute winner for a 2-1 triumph.

The tie will be played on Saturday 10 February 2024, kick-off at 3:00pm
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Kinina joins on loan

https://i.postimg.cc/QNbgyqGR/Nick-Kinina.png

26 January 2024

Rovers have made a new signing on loan today.

With Andràs Domokos set to rejoin parent club Coventry City tomorrow, Rovers have acquired Norwich City defender Nick Kinina on loan until the end of the season. Goerge Alfieri is still sidelined with his broken ankle so Mark Duell has acted swiftly to provide extra cover for Ryan Reynolds.

The 22 year old started his career with home town club Birmingham City but was released in the summer of 2020 without making an appearance for the Blues. He joined Reading in December of that year and made his début for the Royals in the 2022 Checkatrade Trophy. That summer he was released by Reading but was quickly snapped up the Canaries. He is yet to make an appearance for the Championship side but is looking forward to join us and get some valuable match time under his belt.

Kinina has been allocated squad number 42.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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January 2024 Summary

https://i.postimg.cc/5tD11vcJ/TRFC-Jan2024-Results.png

Lots of games as the title race hots up!

So we started January with a two point gap between ourselves at the top and Wrexham in fourth. Our first game of 2024 would be a trip to Cleethorpes to face a Grimsby side that have dropped off since such a good start. It was also a potential banana skin for us. That banana skin seemed to be looking true when they went ahead on the quarter hour thanks to Matty Argent-Barnes; a player who was immense for me at Welsh Under-21 level. But the second half was a completely different story as we tore them to shreds. Two of those goals came in the space of minute to turn a deficit into an advantage. After 56 minutes a Paul Mullin corner was headed in by Joseph Joseph (remember, he's that good he was named twice) and then almost immediately we struck again when Mullin picked up a pass from Ollie Banks to take a touch and then score his 10th of the season.

We added a third to put it beyond them after 72 minutes; Mullin again being the provider and this time it was Cedwyn Scott who made no mistake from close range. The gloss came seven minutes after that goal to cap a superb second half showing. Some clever play by Carlo Banks saw him release Mullin who finished with a nice, low effort.

After our exploits in Derby, midweek saw a derby against Wrexham at the Racecourse. It was a typical blood and thunder game with no quarter given. We took the lead in the second minute when Caleb Richards saw his cross go into his own net thanks to Wrexham's Jared Bird. Tweet, tweet indeed! Our hopes in the game took a massive jolt ten minutes when Carlo Banks limped off with a hamstring strain which would rule him out for the rest of the month. A devastating blow for us as a team and for the lad himself. They levelled in the 32nd minute with a peach of a strike from Jack Clarke which no keeper would have saved, never mind Thomas Hanlon. But we got ourselves a point out of it, just, but lost skipper Jon Murray to a bruised thigh in the closing stages.

We weren't at our best in the league game before the Derby replay as we headed south to the Potteries and Vale Park. Robbie Williams was nowhere to be seen in the directors box as we played the hosts. It was a dour game to be honest, and what chances we did have: we wasted. Only the third time we have failed to score this season so far; a goalless draw.

In the penultimate game of the month, we hosted Hartlepool United: a game that had been rescheduled twice because of Cup matches. We took the lead after just eight minutes, Murray sweeping in the free kick and Christian Mbulu headed the ball home. Hartlepool were a tough nut to crack and to be honest, I felt that there was more chance for them to equalise than us score a second. But we clinched the points with three minutes to go. Einar Iversen weighted the pass into Collier who took a couple of deft touches before striking a superb left foot shot low into the net from just outside the penalty area. Sensational.

The month ended with a home game against Gateshead. "The Heed" are one of the few teams that have gotten the best of us this season but we were determined to set that particular record right at Prenton Park. With the rain absolutely lashing it down, we were ahead after seven minutes play. Scott with another quality cross and Collier got his head onto it to open the scoring. It was a tense affair to be honest, but we clinched another three points in the closing stages. 13 minutes remained when that second goal went in; Scott crossing for Ollie Banks to head against the post but the poacher that is Collier snapped up the rebound. It was his 18th goal of the season.

So January ends like this:

https://i.postimg.cc/3NTT0TJb/TRFC-Table-End-Jan2024.png

Despite those draws, we're still on top of the table and have actually opened a small gap as well. There's three points between us and Fylde and we've got a better goal difference too. We've got to continue to kick on and garner these results out, if we do then we can get the title. Nobody here wants it to go down to a final day decider: ironically against Fylde.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Rovers on the brink of takeover

31 January 2024

Reports are still circulating around that Tranmere Rovers are set to be taken over.

Whilst Club Chairman Mark Palios is refusing to comment on these developments, it's certainly interesting times for the team who currently lead the National League by three points from AFC Fylde.

Manager Mark Duell briefly said this when we asked him at the training ground:

"It's interesting but what happens off the pitch is for those people. My main focus is on what happens on the pitch. That's all."


https://i.postimg.cc/m2TjZgG1/Prenton-Pk.jpg
Could Rovers soon have new owners?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Monthly Awards: January 2024


January's National League awards.

The winners were as follows:

Manager of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/YCh1j4D0/NL-Awards-Jan2024-MOTM.png

A second Manager of the Month award for Defoe and another second place for me. Maybe if we hadn't had those draws then I might have won it. Still I have something that Defoe doesn't...a league leading team!

Player and Young Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/sfmScPt1/NL-Awards-Jan2024-POTM.png

The on-loan striker from Barnsley bags both the Player and Young Player of the Month awards. He's hit 15 in 17 games for Salford since joining them, so is doing just as good as our Jake. Might be one to keep an eye on. Or will he be a one season wonder?

Goal of the Month:
Nothing here to report. The winner was Scott Robinson (no, not the former Neighbours character) of Port Vale.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Mbulu is staying..for now

https://i.postimg.cc/4xPxCwQh/Mbulu.png

1 February 2024

Christian Mbulu is staying at Prenton Park, for now. The defender, who is now his 5th season with Rovers, publicly stated he wanted to move on when the team were relegated last season.

At the moment, he's still here. Manager Mark Duell gives the Official Site an update:

Christian Mbulu is still a Rovers player, that I can tell you.

We had a couple of offers from both MK Dons and Mansfield Town yesterday as it was deadline day in the main divisions. However, neither offer met what we are looking for and what we agreed with Christian and his advisors in the summer. The same applies for Nnamdi (Ofoborh) and Jon (Murray) but we have had no official offer for either of those players.

I hope all three players continue to work hard and maybe, they will decide to stay here if we get promoted."
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Unlucky. One thing I've loved so far are my cup ding-dongs. Less so penalty shoot-outs! Focus on getting back into League Two now! Keep up the great story!
Unlucky. One thing I've loved so far are my cup ding-dongs. Less so penalty shoot-outs! Focus on getting back into League Two now! Keep up the great story!

That's the target mate, get them back into League Two at the first time of asking and as champions ideally.

Thanks for continuing to read everyone, I'll have more updates coming shortly.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Wembley dreams end in Hartlepool defeat

https://i.postimg.cc/J0F1MnrW/FATrophy.jpg

10 February 2024

Extra time proved to be the decisive moment as Rovers saw their Buildbase FA Trophy dreams end.

Taking on the current holders Hartlepool United was always going to be a tough ask, and at Victoria Park too. It did prove to be a very entertaining affair with both teams carving out many an opportunity. With four minutes to go to half time, Rovers went ahead. A long ball down the right from Harrison Howard picked out the ever willing Cedwyn Scott and his low cross fizzed across the six yard box for Paul Mullin to tap home with no Pools defenders near him.

Six minutes after the interval, Pools were back on parity. A deep cross from Rob Wright was nodded home at the far post by Josh Blake despite Thomas Hanlon's valiant attempt to keep it out. However Rovers would go ahead once more in this tie with just 12 minutes left to play. Ollie Banks flighted a ball forward that Alex Denny then flicked on, and nipping in behind the Pools defence was none other than top scorer Jake Collier to poach his 19th goal of the season. Was that to prove to be winner?

Well they always say, play to the whistle and the final whistle at that. So it proved as Pools scored a dramatic equaliser deep into second half stoppage time to force extra time between the two teams. It all began with a Mullin corner which was headed clear at the near post; Pools then went on the counter and the ball found its way through to Jack Evans who drilled home his first ever goal for Pools from the edge of the area; Hanlon given no chance.

So we went to extra time and possibly penalties. We knew it would take something special to win it, and that came eight minutes before that dreaded shootout. It was an exocet of a finish from substitute Chanka Zimba which again gave Hanlon no chance whatsoever. The loanee from Blackburn Rovers certainly won't hit anything as sweet as that for sure. Rovers tried to get back on terms but ultimately fell short so it's the holders who move into the quarter-finals.

Our team was:

Hanlon; Reynolds (Kinina 80), Howard, Mbulu, Richards; Ofoborh; Durrant (Denny 66), Murray © (Ollie Banks 39); Scott, Mullin; Collier. Unused Substitutes: Passant, Sammons.

Attendance: 3266 (391 Rovers)
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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February 2024 Summary

https://i.postimg.cc/FsZDLGdD/TRFC-Feb2024-Results.png

A four game span as we go deep into the business end of the season now.

Bromley started the month and a potential banana skin as they are in the play off spots, looking for a good finish. In front of almost 5000 fans, we were ahead after just seven minutes play when Caleb Richards whipped in a cross from the left and Paul Mullin glanced his header into the far corner out of the keeper's grasp. Then as we waited to see how many minutes to be played at the end of that first half, we added our second. Cedwyn Scott with a nice lay off to Ollie Banks who produced a sublime side foot finish. Andy Sims reduced the arrears early in the second half to give Bromley a chance but we were standing steadfast in defence. The points though were secured two minutes from time when Banks played in substitute Marcus Sammons to slide a shot under the advancing keeper. It was his first goal for the club.

Midweek dreariness in Morecambe, that's how you can describe the next game. It has to be said that defences were the biggest winners in this game with Ryan Reynolds, aka Deadpool as the Lads have nicknamed him, turning into a brilliant game at right back. Still a clean sheet, and at least we didn't lose.

After suffering FA Trophy agony in my home town, we were on the road again for the penultimate game of the month. Leyton Orient are one of the few sides that have beaten us this season in the league so there was plenty of incentive to put that right when we arrived in the capital. Two goals in the second half saw that done and kept us unbeaten for the month. Just two minutes after the restart, some great interplay saw Mullin tee up Sam Durrant for a crisp finish past former Rovers loanee Marcus Dewhurst. The same two combined for the clincher with ten minutes to go, Mullin with a corner to the back post and Durrant with a firm header that crashed into the net giving Dewhurst no chance at all.

Our biggest home league crowd of the season of almost 7000 saw us take the points against Carlisle United in the final game of February. The only goal came after seven minutes when Durrant, fresh from his double salvo at Orient, sent Jake Collier scampering clear. Was this to be the youngster's 20th of the season? Well the keeper saved his initial shot only for Collier to crash the second shot against the bar. Third time of asking it went in, Mullin with a low finish for his 15th of the campaign which Kessell couldn't get near. It was a niggly game with eight yellow cards brandished but no reds. We now go into March on an impressive run of 12 league games without defeat. If that's not title winning form then what exactly was is.

So with just a couple of months to go, these are the standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/jS3c85hf/TRFC-Table-End-Feb2024.png

Twelve games left to go, and seven of those come in March in a 27 day spell. February proved to be a decent move indeed as it allowed us to open a bit more of a gap. Wrexham are the outsiders of the four but are Eastleigh able to keep pace with us? The bookies favourites can never be discounted despite lying seven points adrift of us at present, they're my personal danger team. If we continue to grind out the wins then we can secure the title in April.

The takeover is still unresolved which means I can't buy any new faces to freshen the squad, that said I have a decent crop of youngsters I could call on if need be. Still kept hold of the want away three of Mbulu, Murray and Ofoborh however...maybe they'll stay if we go up!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Monthly Awards: February 2024


February's National League awards.

The winners were as follows:

Manager of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/BQMR0JgS/NL-Awards-Feb2024-MOTM.png

A third placed finish in February. Got the feeling that I might have stood a chance if it wasn't for that dreary draw in Morecambe. Congratulations to "Reg" Varney on the gong though.

Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/763QQ4hy/NL-Awards-Feb2024-POTM.png

Unlucky wee Sam, close yet not so far. That said Robinson also bagged the Young Player of the Month award too for good measure. Things are good when they come in doubles right?

Goal of the Month:

This was won by Grimsby's Antonio Diaz, who is actually English rather than his Spanish sounding name. We don't hit screamers here at Prenton Park....
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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McCadden takes over reins

18 March 2024

https://i.postimg.cc/m2TjZgG1/Prenton-Pk.jpg

The saga is at over, the long protracted takeover of Tranmere Rovers has been completed.

The new owner of the Wirral based club, currently riding high in the National League, is Staffordshire based Jack McCadden. He succeeds Mark Palios, who had been in charge since 2014. Mr Palios and his wife Nicola have both left the Club as part of the takeover.

Mrs Palios' replacement on the Tranmere board is Mr McCadden's business partner Nigel Tinnion.

The Club have also announced that the previous link with Liverpool, established under the Palios reign, has been terminated with immediate effect. They insist that there is no effect to Mark Duell's role as manager and look forward to working with him.



The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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March 2024 Summary

https://i.postimg.cc/5yNC4p9r/TRFC-Mar2024-Results.png

A busy period of seven games in just 27 days as we head towards the end of a long season.

We began March with a home game against AFC Telford United, and what a hard fought game that was. Despite having more chances but conceding more of the possession: a draw looked a certainty. Referee Ryan Johnson must have thought it was Christmas too as he was handing out cards to our lads like they were confetti. We had no less than five players booked, the most we have had in a single game all season, but still no reds which is always good and allows us to have our strongest team out all of the time. Yet you always have to keep working until that final whistle, and good things might happen. Well they did for us in the fourth of five minutes added on at the end of the game! Skipper Jon Murray punted the ball forward, Carlo Banks got above his marker to head down to top scorer Jake Collier who volleyed home his 20th of the season and left Telford absolutely gutted.

We would then play three sides in the bottom reaches of the division and each one of them a potential banana skin. It started with a midweek trip to Holker Street, Barrow, and two goals in the space of six minutes put us on course for yet another three points. After 17 minutes we opened the scoring, Caleb Richards with the left wing cross and although Collier headed against the bar initially; he reacted first of all to poach home the rebound. Then in the 23rd minute, Banks supplied a corner which Christian Mbulu headed down for Murray to lash in a fierce volley. Four minutes after half time, they reduced the arrears when Issac Layne converted a penalty but four minutes from time, the boys in red (yeah, we were wearing our third choice kit) clinched it when Sam Durrant gambled on a hopeful ball from Banks, the Barrow defender made a hash of a clearance, and the former Blackburn trainee took a touch before rifling in his 10th of the season...some return eh?

Another potential slip up followed with a back to back away game, this time to Barnet. We certainly buzzed in The Hive and continued our winning ways plus yet another clean sheet for Thomas Hanlon. Some great play would lead to the opener in the 13th minute, unlucky for Barnet eh? The final pass was a weighted pass from the byline by Paul Mullin and who else but Collier was on hand to finish from six yards out. As the game headed into the final 19 minutes, that goal was the only one which could have given the Bees hope but we stung them with a quickfire four minute salvo. In the 71st minute a searching cross from Cedwyn Scott saw Collier somehow beat THREE Barnet defenders to the ball and head in. Then it was game over with quarter of an hour left, another corner kick routine saw Mbulu head into the path of Ollie Banks whose shot had too much power on it for the Barnet keeper to keep out.

The home game against Aldershot had been promoted as a fan day by the Club and we enjoyed a superb attendance of over 6700: most of whom would go home the happier as we chalked up another win. The opener came in the 16th minute when "Deadpool" (Ryan Reynolds) fired in a low cross which Scott superbly got out of his feet and then smash home an unstoppable effort. That lead would be doubled five minutes later, Clements tripping Scott in the area and Collier producing the perfect penalty. Whatever the Shots threw at us, we repelled and we completed yet another win when Durrant headed in from close range after 66 minutes following a Mullin corner.

After that, we would entertain Salford City in the first game for the new owner but we failed to spark as the team recorded a rare blank. Salford will probably go back and think how the heck they didn't take full points as they controlled us on our own patch. Well if they had taken their chances they would have really taken us apart but two shots on target from 15 tells its own story. Never was I so delighted to come off a home game with a point when really we deserved nothing at all.

Despite being clear at the top, our next game would be against nearest challengers Eastleigh: and we knew if we could get a good result against them then we would really be in a good position for the title race. As it was, just one goal would decide matters. It came six minutes before half time when Doyle tugged the shirt of Mullin as the inside forward prepared to shoot. The referee had no doubt in awarding the spot kick, and up stepped Collier to emphatically thump home from twelve yards and score his 25th of the season. Eastleigh did try but our defence was in no need to concede and so it was three massive points for us on the board. We had really found a way to win despite not being at our fluent best.

With Eastleigh not in action on Good Friday 2024, we had a chance to make the title almost ours if we could finish the month with a win at mid-table Cambridge United. It was far from being a classic but it all changed just after the hour. Cambridge midfielder Tommy Haines saw red for a second yellow card from referee Joe Hull, and I thought this was our cue. As Haines trooped off, I encouraged the Lads to kick on and make the most of the extra man: we produced within two minutes of this. An unstoppable effort from Durrant , which arrowed into the top corner, proved to be the decisive moment and we're now within touching distance of an immediate return to League Two and more silverware for me.

So with just a handful of games left, this is how we stand:

https://i.postimg.cc/KvWMbn69/TRFC-Table-End-Mar2024.png

That was a defining month of the season, and when I needed the boys to really step up the pressure: they delivered the results for us. Just five games to play and a point could conceivably clinch the title if Eastleigh fail to take maximum points at home to Gateshead. We're rewriting a number of records this season and this seems to be one of the best squads I've had. Match winners all over the squad.

Now if we do go up, as expected, will Mbulu, Murray and Ofoborh all withdraw their transfer requests and will the new chairman put some more serious funding so we can build on this? One can only hope in both circumstances. Squeaky bum time for us all.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Monthly Awards: March 2024


March's National League awards.

The winners were as follows:

Manager of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/bNqG1qbj/NL-Awards-Mar2024-MOTM.png

You know what they say: good things come to those who wait. Well this was definitely worth the wait, really it was. Six wins from seven in the month, maybe this will also have a bearing when they come to hand out the Manager of the Year gong at season's end. And we thought it would never happen....

Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/s2x77sk2/NL-Awards-Mar2024-POTM.png

Wee Sam, OK he's 6ft tall so not a shorty, has been in more superb form as we close in on promotion. He's chipped in some vital goals and some equally good performances as a rule. To say I picked him up on a free from Blackburn Rovers, he's been worth signing. 12 goals from midfield is a superb haul, and I think he can maybe get better if he applies himself the right way. Prior to being at the Rovers academy, he was on schoolboy forms with both Everton and Liverpool but neither took him on further.

For those who wonder what he looks like, this is the current Vanarama National League Player of the Month for March 2024:

https://i.postimg.cc/XYktpSFq/Sam-Durrant.png

Young Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/htpVXf3w/NL-Awards-Mar2024-YPOTM.png

Despite scoring a fair number of goals this month, not even a mention for our Jake. Must have upset the judging panel I guess or they didn't fancy lauding all the awards our way. Draw your own conclusions folks.

Goal of the Month:
Won by a thumping 31 yard free kick from Aldershot striker Shaun Rigg.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Great write up mate, keep it up!
Thanks for the kind words @bigmattb28 - hoping to continue this story for a fair few seasons yet.

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Rovers are champions!

https://i.postimg.cc/NFwjQvmD/TRFC-Champions2024.png

1 April 2024

"Championi, championi - olé, olé, olé!" was the sound coming from the away support in Southport at 4:50pm this afternoon.

Yes Rovers are back in League Two next season as they secured an immediate return, and their third National League title in five years.

Needing just a win to secure the title regardless of what second placed Eastleigh were going to do in their home game with Gateshead, Rovers set off with intent and the travelling support were rewarded as early as the third minute. Full back Ryan Reynolds swung in a cross from the right, and inside forward Cedwyn Scott connected with a sweet half volley past Jim Tonge in the home goal. But Southport weren't in the mood to let this early setback affect them; and equalised four minutes later when skipper Ray Cooper converted from close range with Rovers defence stretched out of position. Cooper's goal was the first goal that Thomas Hanlon had conceded in 491 minutes, going back to the penalty converted by Issac Layne of Barrow in our 3-1 win there last month.

We regained the lead after 19 minutes, and it was definitely a case of April Fools for unfortunate Sandgrounders right-back Jordan Aina. Aina put us back in front when he headed a cross from Carlo Banks into his own net; sparking heated conversations in defence with his team-mates. Obviously, there had been a lack of communication somewhere but not that Rovers were complaining. Rovers thought they had added a third a minute before half time when Banks swept home from a Jon Murray free-kick but the assistant referee's flag ruled that one out. Replays confirmed it appeared to be the right decision.

The away support had already been jumping for joy as two Greg Olley penalties had Gateshead 2-0 at the interval in Eastleigh, and midway through the second half those title dreams became closer when Banks provided another superb cross and this time top scorer Jake Collier volleyed in his 26th of a remarkable season from close range after 68 minutes play. The title was within touching distance, and Rovers knew it. Southport's Jaidon Anthony saw red for a couple of yellow cards with seven minutes to go then the moment really arrived a couple of minutes later. With play in the Southport half, news came through of a third Gateshead goal in Eastleigh from Joe Pritchard. The title was won barring a massive collapse.

Eddie Brown did make the game a bit more interesting at Haig Avenue with a second Southport goal in time added on whilst Shanar Moore pulled one back for Eastleigh around the same time. However Rovers were not to be denied, and the party began.

Our team was:

Hanlon; Reynolds (Ofoborh 62), Graham, Mbulu, Richards (Kinina 55); Murray ©; Durrant, Ollie Banks (Henderson 72); Carlo Banks, Scott; Collier. Unused Substitutes: Passant, Iversen.

Attendance: 1203 (586 Rovers)
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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April and May 2024 Summary

https://i.postimg.cc/kGN6z3Tr/TRFC-Apr-May2024-Results.png

The final games of the season analysed.

Thanks to our own efforts and Gateshead beating Eastleigh, the title was bagged with four games left to spare. Cheers 'Heed! Safe to say the celebrations from Southport went long into the night for us all, and a few sore heads were in evidence when we resumed training the following Monday. But we wanted to continue this unbeaten run and maybe, just maybe, break a few more records if possible.

We weren't really at our best when we played our penultimate home game of the season against Ebbsfleet United. In fact they were the better side throughout but we just continued to be miserly in front of our own goal and shut them out. The only goal of the game would come after just two minutes play; skipper Jon Murray producing a superb free-kick from distance that curled its way in via the crossbar. A goal worthy of winning any game. Further proof that you can play not well as a team but can grind out a win when needed.

Twice we led in our next game, away to Dagenham and Redbridge, but in the end we had to settle for a point which took us over the 100 point barrier which itself is an incredible achievement for all concerned. We took the lead in the 12th minute when the recalled Einar Iversen took a touch inside the penalty area before arrowing a nice effort that found the corner of the home goal. However, Reece Mitchell levelled matters for the Daggers two minutes later. We would regain the lead in the 22nd minute however, Ollie Banks with a well struck effort from close range after Harrison Howard had headed down a Carlo Banks corner to him. The Daggers would drew level once more in the 69th minute thanks to a Tim Penfold effort, and we eventually shook hands on an entertaining 2-2 draw.

The game against the Daggers saw Tranmere débuts for two promising youngsters in striker Ridvan Polat who is of Turkish descent despite being born in Newcastle, and Birkenhead (so, a proper home grown talent eh?) born defender Kris Camacho. It was funny to hear the away fans sing his name to the tune of the Sinitta hit single "So Macho" when he took the field. I also opted to give Bayleigh Passant a rare league start in between the sticks.

We were expected to win comfortably in our final home game of the campaign but we again shook hands at the end on a 2-2 draw; this time with mid-table Solihull Moors. The Moors actually took the lead on the quarter hour when skipper and central defender Kory Roberts beat Passant with a shot that any centre forward would have been proud of. The equaliser though wasn't far in coming, another set piece this time converted by Nnamdi Ofoborh: he of the five first names! It was the last meaningful action for the midfielder as he limped off eight minutes later. With nine minutes to go to the break, we took the lead thanks to a superb 30 yard curling effort from Cedwyn Scott that gave the Moors keeper no chance at all. But the lead lasted all of two minutes when Korrey Perry drew the away side back on parity. Neither side could find a winner after that, but it extended our unbeaten run.

The season would finish with an away trip to AFC Fylde, the bookies pre-season title favourites, and also the last team to defeat us in league play way back in December. We took an amazing 1285 fans to Mill Lane for the finale and after nine minutes we were ahead when a revitalised Paul Mullin sent in a corner and skipper Murray picked it up with one touch before striking an effort through a crowd and into the net. Fylde equalised four minutes later with a set piece goal of their own, defender Saul Milovanovic with the goal. They would go ahead just after the half hour with a fine strike from Austin Manning. With time running out, it looked like we would see the end of our remarkable run until we awarded a penalty seven minutes from time following a foul on Carlo Banks. Up stepped top scorer Jake Collier to send the keeper the wrong way from twelve yards and net his 27th of the season.

So these were the final standings, with the promotion play-offs to begin soon:

https://i.postimg.cc/tTxVdVP4/TRFC-Final-Table2024-No-Play-Offs-Played.png
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Monthly Awards: April 2024


April's National League awards.

The winners were as follows, we didn't feature in any of them:

Manager of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/SxZhdT7g/NL-Awards-Apr2024-MOTM.png

Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/C5VT5WSx/NL-Awards-Apr2024-POTM.png

Young Player of the Month:
https://i.postimg.cc/nrY8D0hY/NL-Awards-Apr2024-YPOTM.png

Goal of the Month:
Despite scoring another worldie, not a mention in the top three for Cedwyn's curler against Solihull. The winner was Wtrexhan's Anis Memheti.

Coming soon, the end of National League end of season awards. Who will be winners of the Manager of the Year, National League Player of the Year and National League Goal of the Season? Plus also the Team of the Season.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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103 points!!! WHAT THE HELL! That's impressive man! Congratulations on the promotion and the league title!
Very impressive indeed... Congrats!
Bring on League Two!
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Great going there mate
103 points!!! WHAT THE HELL! That's impressive man! Congratulations on the promotion and the league title!

Thanks dude, surpassed all my expectations completely. I knew the squad stood a chance of making the play-offs at least but they just clicked and that unbeaten run just seemed to go on and on...

Very impressive indeed... Congrats!
Bring on League Two!

Cheers my man, League Two is going to be harder but anything is possible right?

Great going there mate

Thanks again mate, it's definitely proving to be the most enjoyable save I've had in a while.

To everyone: thanks for continuing to read this adventure. There will be another update later in the week, season 7 coming soon...
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Season 2023-24 Review


Well, that's the first ever season in the bag in English football, so let's look back on it.

It has to be said that my first season managing in English football was a massive success indeed. After spells in Scotland, Finland and latterly France I felt I needed the challenge of an English club and what better way to cut your teeth than in the harsh environment that is the National League. Chuck in the factor you are managing a newly relegated side then it becomes a much bigger test than ever. No pressure right?

After a reasonable pre-season, we kicked off the campaign at newly promoted Hartlepool United playing a 4-2-3-1 formation which we had developed in that pre-season programme. We apparently needed this extra formation according to my assistant manager as it might become too predictable for the squad to play my tried and trusted 4-1-4-1 formation which I have used at my previous clubs and also at national level with the Welsh Under 21s. So we ran with it, and for the first few games it seemed to work well, and after six games we had only conceded just a goal a game but something didn't feel right. You know how you get this feeling, OK?

In the middle of September, we switched back to 4-1-4-1 and it seemed to be the one that the players enjoyed. It was a case of go back to what I knew the best and it worked in the National League home and away. We seldom slipped off of the play-off spots which I was targetting all along, in fact our lowest position in the whole campaign was 11th which was were we sat after the opening game. The change back to the 4-1-4-1 came after a 2-2 home draw with rivals Wrexham, which had us in 9th, but once the adjustment was made then we were never out of the top seven.

December was the defining month it has to be said though. The bookmakers (when are they always right?) had AFC Fylde as the title winners when the campaign started and to be honest they looked good to make that prediction when they defeated us 1-0 at Prenton Park. But that loss seemed to hurt the boys and spur them onto a charge that would change our season's fortunes. After that loss, we would go on a run that would last the remainder of the campaign. Whenever the chips were down, the team dug in and either snatched an unlikely win from out of nowhere or get a point out of it. We hit the top in the final game in December and were never headed afterwards. With teams falling over themselves to try and keep pace, we just kept picking up the points and slowly extended our advantage. We're joined in League Two by Bromley who defeated Eastleigh 2-1 at Wembley in the Final thanks to a winner from Jordan Brown, it was the last kick of the game so not short on drama there.

The title and an immediate return was secured in our 41st league game of the campaign. Knowing well that if we beat Southport then we would be champions regardless what second placed Eastleigh would do at home to Gateshead. We duly won, and for an extra bonus Gateshead won on the South Coast which made it even sweeter. In the end, a 11 point winning gap was superb even if we didn't take the record of most points in a National League from Crawley Town. I really couldn't have asked for anything as good as that: it even feels more satisfying than the league and cup double in Finland with Ilves.

The club was also taken over as the season ended, and I've got a chairman that seems ambitious. He's added an extra 14K to the wage budget for the new season and for once I look having a bit of money to spend on new faces. Furthermore; after being declined in my requests to get a Continental Pro licence at both Ilves and Le Mans I asked him about this and he was only too willing to grant the request. This can only increase my reputation when completed, and if I can continue to get the results for Tranmere then maybe that Championship managerial dream at the moment isn't too far away. I seem to have found a club that wants to be ambitious, and hope they can kick on in League Two. If we can perform well, then I might to have fight off managerial advances from higher up the ladder.

Cup-wise for us, we did superb in the FA Cup. To say we came into it at the final qualifying round, we got to Round Three. Granted we exited at this stage to Derby County of the Championship, we acquitted ourselves superbly. To lose after a replay to the Rams, and not be humiliated in that replay was a real high. I would have liked to gone further in the FA Trophy but an extra time winner in Round Three at Victoria Park ended that, and as for the Irn-Bru Cup that ended early but after a penalty shootout in Hamilton which is always the most cruellest way to finish a football match. Next season's going to be hectic with the FA Trophy and Irn-Bru Cup be replaced by the Checkatrade Trophy and the Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) so we're going to need a squad with numbers in depth to cope with the demands.

Bring it on!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Season 2023-24 Club Award Winners


A look at who won what in the club awards.

https://i.postimg.cc/wTP30T6y/TRFC-202324-EOSAwards.png

Towering defender Christian Mbulu took the big award; polling nearly half of the votes cast. To say he's still unhappy about the relegation, he stuck the whole campaign out and to be honest the bids we did get for him: were just pathetic. I'm hoping that he decides to withdraw his transfer request in the summer and the same goes for skipper Jon Murray too. As for the third of that trio, Nnamdi Ofoborh will be probably on his way once his contract expires unless someone comes in with a surprise bid.

Special mention goes for our on-loan keeper from Sheffield United; Thomas Hanlon. Thomas had a superb season for us, conceding just 43 in 50 games with 26 clean sheets. I really hope I can get him on loan for a second season when we are in League Two. Jake Collier was a revelation as the lone striker, bagging 27 goals and he's now attracting the attention of a lot of Championship clubs so it might be a big job on in the summer trying to fend those vultures. Perhaps if I put a £1 million plus price tag on his head then that might stop them but then again not. He'll get his head turned I fear.

Our wingers created just under 50 goals between them this season, and it could have been more if Carlo Banks hadn't had such an injury hit campaign to be honest. I wonder if they can hit the same heights in League Two though. Signing wise, picking up Hanlon as I said was a great loan deal for us and he was just consistent over the season which is what you want from your first choice keeper. Sam Durrant, who did get the signing of the season, was also a great pick up on a free from Blackburn Rovers and chipped in with 12 goals from midfeld despite not holding down a permanent place in the first eleven throughout. I'm hoping to find a few more gems for League Two for sure.

Cedwyn Scott's overhead kick which won the goal of the season and few could really argue with that. It certainly was a superb effort that would have been replayed over and over again if it had been in the Premiership or the Champions League though. Sam Graham won the young player of the year which came as a bit of surprise to me, I was half expecting top scorer Collier to take this. But Sam was a real calming influence when he was in the side, so much so that it was hard to drop him in the final stages of the season. I've not got any real complaints about our own team of the season as most of the players picked themselves in it. That said, the surprise was the inclusion of loanee Andrâs Domokos at right-back over both Ryan "Deadpool" Reynolds and Goerge Alfieri. Not bad to say the fans weren't overly excited when he first came in; he must have really won them over. Might be one to consider bringing back?

On a disappointing note, Blair Henderson never really got going despite scoring twice in his first two games and bringing in the veteran Jani Tanska from my old Finnish club Ilves was a mistake. Tanska never got fit enough to be included in the first team, and maybe at 35, his best years are behind him. Both will be released at the end of the season and there's a lot of other hard decisions to be made with a considerable amount of contracts up for renewal. This is when a good Director of Football comes in handy.
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Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Big changes at Rovers

16 May 2024


There are ambitious times ahead at Tranmere Rovers.

https://i.postimg.cc/ZRKyX7XC/TRFC-New-Stadium-Plan.png

Rovers chairman Jack McCadden, who took over the club in March this year, has announced that the Club will be looking at building a new stadium in the future. The Stafford based businessman admitted this in an exclusive statement that BBC North West Tonight has learned today:

"Today I can confirm the next stage of our plans for Tranmere Rovers.

We've quickly realised that Prenton Park is proving to be a long and expensive stadium to maintain year in, year out. That's why we've commissioned a feasiblity study into having a brand new stadium for our football club. There's no given start date for this project and when it will be completed by but it's something we are keen to have and it will help us take the club to a whole new level off the pitch.

As soon as we have more details about it, then we'll let you know. Watch this space."

First Team Manager Mark Duell was excited when we asked him for his opinion:
"This is certainly a buzz for the club on the back of our title winning season. I'm excited to see what happens with this."

Supporters spokesperson Declan Shaw had this to say;
"Prenton Park is the spiritual home for Tranmere Rovers, we've had so many great nights here. However if the Chairman wants to take us to the next level then kudos to him. It's interesting times for us Rovers fans. Let's see what happens next, eh?"


https://i.postimg.cc/m2TjZgG1/Prenton-Pk.jpg

Rovers are set to leave their home of over 100 years
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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End of Season 2023-24 Awards


The National League have announced their final awards of the season.

Manager of the Year:
https://i.postimg.cc/zBx7bRTP/NL-Awards-EOS2024-MOTY.png

Get in there! Another managerial award to add to the ever growing collection. That's one, at least, from each of the countries I've managed in so far. More to follow one hopes.

Player of the Year:
https://i.postimg.cc/ZYDjJpbW/NL-Awards-EOS2024-POTY.png

The former Rangers man did look a class act in the National League. I'd love to sign him for our League Two campaign but their asking price will be far more than we can afford. It'll probably take at least half a million to procure him.

National League Golden Boot:
https://i.postimg.cc/T3ncjsrb/NL-Awards-EOS2024-Golden-Boot.png

One can only but think that Jake Collier would have walked away with this if it wasn't for injuries and missing some open goals.

National League Goal of the Season:
https://i.postimg.cc/QCRp1gCS/NL-Awards-EOS2024-GOTY.png

I told you that this was a special goal indeed, nice to see that the rest of the league agree.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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New senior affiliate link announced!

https://i.postimg.cc/br2m7w2C/Villa.jpg

31 May 2024

The club can today announce an exciting new partnership.

After a brief search, Tranmere Rovers have confirmed a brand new senior affiliation. 1982 European Cup winners Aston Villa were the unanimous choice of the Rovers board as they continue with their ambitious plans for the club's future.

As part of the deal, the Villians have agreed to pay Rovers £37,470 per year and there will be an annual friendly at Prenton Park between the two sides. It's also understood that some of Villa's promising youngsters may appear in Tranmere colours on loan as well.

This deal takes effective immediately, and thus the Club can confirm that the previous partnership with Ipswich Town has been terminated at the same time.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Well, what do you know. I'm already being headhunted by Championship clubs.

https://i.postimg.cc/KjqgDPYC/Rovers-Offer.png

Decisions, decisions!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Squad announcement

Last Updated: 07/06/2024 12:00pm

Wales Under-21 manager Mark Duell today released his 23 man squad for their summer friendlies against Cyprus and Sweden. There are a few changes from the last squad with first call ups for goalkeeper Adam Evans, defenders Jamie McKinnon; Nathan Pritchard and Anthony Stevenson as well as midfielders Tommy Hill and Shane Stevenson. The full squad is as follows:.

Goalkeepers:
Scott Williams (Scunthorpe United)
Jack Jackson (Cardiff City)
Adam Evans (Cardiff City)

Defenders:
Jamie McKinnon (Leyton Orient, on loan from Swansea City)
Jonathan Letheren (Swansea City)
Sam Edwards (Swansea City)
Tom McCarthy (Cardiff City)
George Armstrong (Eastleigh, on loan from Portsmouth)
Nathan Pritchard (Barry Town United)
Anthony Stevenson (Chelmsford City)
Nick Clayton-Curran (Dartford)

Midfielders:
Tommy Hill (Cardiff City)
Shane Stevenson (Eastleigh, on loan from Peterborough United)
Dion Tipton (TNS)
Darren Hewitt (Charlton Athletic)
Connor Coyne (Wrexham)
Sion Pulis (Morecambe)
John Eaton (Leyton Orient, on loan from Colchester United)
Cory Bond (Swansea City)

Strikers:
Ian Branch (Cardiff City)
Dewi Coates (Connah's Quay Nomads)
Sam Hall (Stoke City)
Russell Burton (Cardiff City)
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
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