In 2015, Tranmere Rovers’ 94-year stint in the EFL came to an end as they finished bottom of Sky Bet League Two, six points from safety.
One more win in the season that followed and they could’ve been back before they knew it – ultimately, Rovers finished two points short of a shot at the play-offs. A year later they made it all the way to Wembley Stadium, only to suffer defeat at the hands of Forest Green Rovers.
Their fortunes changed last year, however, when a second visit to the National Stadium is as many years saw them overcome Boreham Wood, despite a red card being shown to Liam Ridehalgh in the first minute, to win 2-1.
Since taking to management in 2008, Micky Mellon has become somewhat of a promotion specialist and his 2016 appointment by Tranmere has since proved to be a shrewd move.
Last year’s success was his fourth promotion as a manager, and his second into League Two. During a four-year spell at Lancashire club Fleetwood Town, Mellon guided them from football’s sixth tier into the EFL before making the move to Barnsley, where he was an assistant manager for just over a year.
From there he joined Shrewsbury Town, winning the third promotion of his career by guiding the Shropshire club into Sky Bet League One. Mellon parted company with the Shrews in 2016 in order to join Tranmere.
Returning to the club he spent nearly five years at as a player, Mellon turned Rovers’ form on its head. Following one win in seven fixtures, his first game in charge rendered a 2-0 win over Wrexham, starting an unbeaten run that stretched into December.
Mellon continued to guide Tranmere up the league standings with a number of impressive results, including a 9-0 success over Solihull Moors, making promotion a real possibility in his first season in charge.
Play-off misery was soon overcome when, on 12th May 2018, the club’s EFL status was restored.
Tranmere have worked tirelessly to try and ensure their first season back in the EFL is not a one-off, bringing in eight new signings during the summer transfer window including former Rovers Player of the Season Zoumana Bakayogo, who recently made the move back to Prenton Park to add to his 144 appearances for the club.
Youngsters Harvey Gilmour and Jonny Smith have joined Rovers on loan from Sheffield United and Bristol City respectively, while Ollie Banks, Mark Ellis, Paul Mullin and Jake Caprice make up the other additions. Manny Monthe, who was on loan from Forest Green Rovers last term, has made his switch a permanent one.
The new additions come in to complement a wealth of experience already at the club, including captain Stephen McNulty, central midfielder Ollie Norburn and striker Connor Jennings, who all made north of 40 league appearances on their way to promotion last time out.
Formed in 1884 as Belfont FC, Tranmere would play in the Liverpool and District League until 1921, when the expansion of the EFL allowed them to join the Third Division (North). After winning their first fixture against Crewe Alexandra, they would remain in the EFL for a further 94 years.
They would go on to win the Third Division (North) title in 1938, their first piece of major silverware, while finishing fourth in the second tier in 1993 would mark the clubs highest ever placing in the EFL. Their return to Sky Bet League Two will also see them return to the EFL Trophy, having won the competition in 1990.
Rovers boast a rich history of former players, including record-breakers Harold Bell and Dixie Dean. Bell holds the record for the most consecutive League appearances, with a total of 401 between 1946 and 1955, while no-one has ever scored more goals in a season than Dean, who notched 60 having moved to Everton from Rovers.
Ground: Prenton Park
Shirt colours: White with blue trim
Last season: 2nd – Vanarama National League