Monday, 4 February 2008

Teams I Hate (Part I)

In the run-up to our game against Palace this Friday I'm going to highlight a different team that I hate everyday culminating with our friends and former 'Roomies' from South Norwood.

Part I - Tranmere Rovers

For some unknown reason in the early nineties a number of former top players decided to play for Tranmere Roves in the twilight of their careers. One such player was John Aldridge. The former Liverpool great (inferior Rush clone) who was remembered for being the first player to miss a penalty in a FA Cup Final in 1988.

Aldridge had been the main attacking threat in the team that had managed to successfully avoid relegation to the Third Division (Tier 3 – I know, I know Tier 3 called the 3rd Division, you couldn’t make it up could you). This was our second season back in the Second Division (Tier 2) following four seasons in the First Division (Tier 1 – I promise I’ll stop now).

I would be lying if I could remember the exact points situation but with one weekend of the season left we were in a great position of going up. From memory we needed four points and had Tramnere at home during the week before the last weekend, and Bristol Rovers away on the last day of the season. Tranmere had had a good season by their standards and had secured safety from relegation before they came to Upton Park to play their (and our) game in hand.

This was the season that Carl Leaburn had been a revelation with Colin Walsh on the left wing dropping balls on his head with pin point accuracy. I remember little of the game now. Aldridge scored, and we lost 1-0. That in itself was not such a big deal, but they way they played that night made Stoke last week look Holland in the seventies. The time wasting was the worst I’ve ever seen it.

I’m convinced that the decision to introduce the back-pass rule came as a direct result of this match. The ‘keeper, Nixon, rolled the ball out to one full back then received it back. He then carried it over to the other side and did the same with the other full back, then received it back again. Then he went over to the other side and did it again. This happened all night. The highlight was a free kick halfway in the Tranmere half which the full back prepared to pass back to the goal keeper. A charlton player marked the Nixon, so Tranmere delayed and delayed taking it. In the end the referee had a word, so Nixon came out to take the kick up field. Again, a considerable delay occurred and the referee had another work. Eventually Nixon stepped up to take it. At that moment the full back sprinted back to the ball, Nixon turned and ran back to his penalty area and the full back passed the ball back for Nixon to pick it up and perform the time wasting rubbish with the full backs again.

Aldridge aside, they had nothing, and clearly they had no aspirations either. That night secured Tranmere’s place in my Hall of Hate, a place that I suspect they will stay until I die. The fact that we seemed unable to win at Prenton Park didn’t help, but I remember shortly after we returned to The Valley that we played them at home and Aldridge scored and promptly put two fingers up at the Covered End, which was where I was sitting before the East Stand was built. I find that kind of behaviour totally unacceptable, and I would insist on telling him if ever I meet him, which I hopefully will not.

My last memory (hopefully forever) of Tranmere was our game at The Valley during our Championship (First Division Title (Tier 2)) season. Tranmere came with the usual time wasting in mind, carved out an early two goal lead and wasted time for England for the remainder of the game. Aldridge was their manager by then and he was very involved in wasting time himself. Every time the ball went out near him he would pick it up and joke about with it and refuse to give it back, then give it back after all. Those lovable Scousers eh? They’re so funny aren’t they?

Anyway we went on to come back and won 3-2. I just loved the way Aldridge was literally flying out of the dug out and throwing the ball back to us when we had throw ins in the last few minutes. Almost as much as I loved the way our player stepped aside and just watched the ball fly past him while Aldridge tapped his wrist to the Referee. If ever I saw a man that liked to make love to his hand this was the man!

For me, one of the best things about our stay in the Premiership was that we didn’t have to play these sorts of teams again and could continue to remember the last win against them. Thankfully Tranmere have been relegated from Tier 2 so I don’t have to face them this season. Hopefully I won’t have to face them ever again.

Oh, and let me just say one more time that Liverpool lost the 1988 FA Cup Final to Wimbledon, a non league team eleven seasons before (and the League and Cup Double) because John Aldridge missed a penalty.


Pedro45 said...

I remember that Upton Park game, as Ronnie Moore was the manager in that match. I sat very near the away dug out at Upton Park, and as one who had forked out (£3) to help buy Ronnie about ten years previously, we had a chat at the end of the game. He was embarrassed by the match, but in actual fact, Tranmere played "well" enough to deserve the points.

Chicago Addick said...

Excellent, I'm looking forward to the others.

StoneMuse said...

Good stuff. I never thought about Tranmere much but now I think I hate them as much as you!

Looking forward to the rest especially Palaarse. Wonder if you will include my other hate, MK Dons?

My son's big hate is Man City (after Palaaarse of course).