History

Iconic people, records and moments from the history of Tranmere Rovers

2010s Icons - Part One

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Posted: 16/11/17
@matthewronaldev

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Survival at Stockport County in 2010. Topping the League One table early in 2012-13. Successive relegations. The current decade has been a busy period so far, with the Club unrecognisable from that which ended 2009. New owners, non-League status and everything in between, there are many iconic moments, both good and bad, that will be remembered in Tranmere Rovers history for decades to come.

Naturally, iconic times bring iconic players. Please find below a selection of 2010s icons (please be aware, current players have not been included, although may qualify at a later date. You can find our current squad here):

Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro

Debut vs. LEYTON ORIENT (18/08/12)

Born in Toulouse, France, Jean-Louis spent 7 years with his hometown club, Toulouse. Between 2000 and 2003, Akpa Akpro was a member of the youth setup before making the jump into the senior squad, where he made circa 40 appearances, including 4 goals in 37 Ligue 1 matches.

In 2007, he spent time on loan at French second-tier club Stade Brestois 29, for whom he scored twice in 15 league outings. His loan was a precursor for his 2007 release and, after a season at Belgian side FC Brussels (2007-08), he moved to England for the first time by joining Grimsby Town.

He stayed at Blundell Park until the end of the 2009-10 campaign, when Grimsby's relegation out of the Football League saw him seek another club after 56 league appearances for the Mariners. That club was League One Rochdale, where he played 73 league games over the course of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, but Rochdale's 2012 relegation to League Two saw him on the move again.

Ronnie Moore brought Jean-Louis to Prenton Park that summer, with Akpa Akpro signing a 2-year contract with Tranmere in time for the 2012-13 season. He hit the ground running and played a crucial role in the amazing start enjoyed by Rovers that year.

With 12 games gone, Tranmere remained unbeaten and sat proudly at the top of the League One table. Jean-Louis proved to be a pivotal figure in that run, scoring 7 goals in the first 10 matches of the season. He sustained a fractured metatarsal in the away game at Notts County and would miss 3 months through injury.

He returned later that season and would go on to make over 50 league appearances for Rovers as well as playing 10 matches for Bury during a 2014 loan spell. Akpa Akpro left Tranmere at the end of the 2013-2014 season and would go on to represent Shrewsbury Town (where he won promotion from League Two in 2015), Barnet and Yeovil Town, for whom he plays at the time of writing having amassed over 400 career appearances and scored in excess of 50 career goals.

With pace, power and lethal finishing, Jean-Louis encapsulated the very essence of early 2012-13 Tranmere Rovers. He helped produce football the likes of which have rarely been replicated since and gave everyone hope that Tranmere could possibly do the unthinkable and win the League One title after several years of struggle.

As seems to be the Tranmere way, he was struck down whilst in his best form. Unfortunately, the Club's struggles over the 18 months after his return meant he could never recapture his early promise. Despite that, he is still one of the faces of what could be, to many, the best Tranmere side of the 2010s and for that he is a 2010s icon.

Interesting Fact: Jean-Louis has scored for every English club he has represented with exception of one. He failed to find the net during a loan spell with Bury in 2014.

Andy Robinson

Debut vs. BURY (10/12/02)

A Birkenhead native, Andy began his football career with local non-League side Cammell Laird, playing for the club between the years of 2000 and 2002. It was in 2002 that Robinson first came to the attention of Tranmere Rovers and he joined the Club on 1st December.

Just 10 days later, Andy would make his debut for Rovers in a match against Bury on 10th December, yet he struggled for playing time and was released at the end of the 2002-03 season. Upon his release, he signed for Swansea City.

He spent the next 5 years with the Welsh side, scoring 44 goals in 195 league appearances in what was a very successful period in his career. Whilst with the Swans, Andy helped them achieve 2 promotions (3rd in League Two 2004-05 and League One Champions 2007-08), a Football League Trophy victory (2005-06) and back-to-back FAW Welsh Premier Cup titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

On an individual basis, Andy was widely and repeatedly recognised for his outstanding contributions to those successes. In his debut season, he won Swansea's Fans' Player of the Year 2003-04. He was named in the PFA League One Team of the Year in both 2006 and 2008 and he came 47th in FourFourTwo magazine's Best 50 Football League Players 2008.

His role in helping Swansea from League Two to the Championship saw him move to Leeds United in the summer of 2008. His time at Elland Road did not live up to his previous experiences at Swansea and he only represented Leeds in 38 league appearances over two years.

Struggling for game time, Andy joined Tranmere on loan in March 2010 in a transfer funded by a fan-sourced Les Aid campaign designed to help Les Parry improve his squad as Rovers battled against relegation to League Two. Despite getting sent-off on his second debut, he played a vital role in helping the Club secure safety, a thunderbolt goal against Millwall a particular highlight as it set Tranmere on course for safety and helped earn Andy another promotion with his parent club Leeds United.

He returned to Leeds in the summer but was released in December 2010, at which point he rejoined Tranmere for a third time in January 2011. He would stay with the Club until 2014 and he was a shining light in the side that recorded Tranmere's best-ever Football League start of 12 games unbeaten (9 wins, 3 draws). Robinson scored 7 goals over that 12-game period and was named League One Player of the Month for August 2012.

In total, Robinson played over 100 matches in all competitions for Rovers, scoring 18 league goals in the process. He left Tranmere on 17th April 2014 and, after a short spell at Shrewsbury Town the following season, retired in March 2015 due to injury. He had a few months at National League North Stockport County before leaving in December 2015.

Involved in some of the Club's most iconic moments of the last decade, from safety at Stockport in 2010 to topping League One in January 2013, local hero Andy Robinson is without doubt an icon of the 2010s.

Interesting Fact: Andy played more league games for Swansea City (195) than for every other of his former clubs combined (145).

Ash Taylor

Debut vs. SCUNTHORPE UNITED (02/05/09)

Ash was born in Bromborough, Wirral and joined Tranmere as a youth team player. He progressed through the ranks, signing as a scholar in 2007 and a professional in 2009. Shortly after turning professional, he went out on loan to Colwyn Bay, making 14 appearances and scoring a hat-trick, before returning to Tranmere.

His Rovers debut came as a late substitute against Scunthorpe United in May 2009, the first of 183 league appearances over 5 years at the Club. In total, Ash had played 204 times for Tranmere by the time he departed in 2014, rejecting new terms after Rovers were relegated from League One in 2013-14.

During his time at Prenton Park, Ash also represented the Welsh Under-19's 3 times in 2009 and the Under-21's once in 2012. This, coupled with his 200+ career appearances, made him an exciting talent and he was quickly on the move.

He joined Scottish side Aberdeen in the summer of 2014. In his 3-year stay at Aberdeen, Taylor experienced European football in the UEFA Europa League and made 100 SPL appearances for the Pittodrie club.

In the summer of 2017, he joined League One Northampton Town on a 3-year contract.

A product of the Club's youth system, his 200+ appearances saw Ash involved in the highs and the lows of the late 2000s and early 2010s. He helped the Club to 2010 safety, 2012 prominence and unfortunately 2014 relegation. At a time of undulating fortunes, Ash provided a constant, if sometimes controversial, link between the good and the bad, the local and the distant, the home-grown and the imported.

Very few players make over 200 appearances for one club in the modern game. Even less make over 200 appearances before they reach their mid-twenties. For that reason, Ash is an icon of the 2010s.

Interesting Fact: Ash Taylor had already made 183 league appearances for Tranmere by the time he left for Aberdeen, a remarkable total for a player who was still only 23 upon his departure.

Aaron Cresswell

Debut vs. MILTON KEYNES DONS (01/11/08)

Growing up in Liverpool, Aaron joined the Tranmere youth system as a young player. He progressed through the ranks, signing his first professional contract in July 2008. He made his Tranmere debut on 1st November 2008 against Milton Keynes Dons and would go on to make 14 appearances in his first season.

The following year, Aaron played a further 17 matches for Rovers before making the left-back slot his own during the 2010-11 campaign, where he represented the Club 49 times in all competitions and contributed 6 goals. Over the course of his 3 seasons, he made a total of 80 appearances for the Prenton Park outfit, impressing enough to secure a move to Championship side Ipswich Town in the summer of 2011, possibly on the basis of his incredible set-piece and crossing ability.

3 years at Portman Road saw Aaron play 138 matches in all competitions, scoring 7 goals in the process. He was also named Ipswich Town Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season and nominated into the PFA Championship Team of the Year for 2013-14. His form for Ipswich earned him a transfer to the Premier League, West Ham United taking the opportunity to secure his talents in 2014.

Just as at Ipswich, Aaron made an immediate impression with the West Ham faithful and colleagues alike, winning the West Ham United Hammer of the Year and Players' Player of the Year for his debut 2014-15 campaign.

Cresswell has remained at the Hammers ever since, pulling on the famous badge 129 times to date, earning a call-up to represent the senior England side in recognition of his stellar performances for the London Stadium side.

Although he left Tranmere as a young player, he is an icon of the 2010s because he has subsequently become the latest player developed at Prenton Park to go on to play international football, following in the footsteps of players like Jason Koumas and Iain Hume. However, where his case is unique is that he plays football for England, joining a select few players who have started their professional career at Tranmere and made it to the Three Lions side. His name will always sit alongside the likes of Steve Coppell and for that alone, if not his enormous talent, he deserves to be considered an icon.

Interesting Fact: Aaron made his senior England national debut in a friendly against Spain in 2016 and has gone on to make further appearances since then.

Dale Jennings

Debut vs. CHARLTON ATHLETIC (18/09/10)

Dale was talented enough to start his footballing journey with his hometown club, Liverpool, with whom he stayed between the years of 2002 and 2008. Released in 2008, he transferred to Tranmere's youth system at the age of 15, developing for a further 2 years before making his senior debut.

That debut came at the age of just 17-years-old, coming on as a substitute in a match against Charlton Athletic on 18th September 2010. His impact on the side vastly outweighed his years, scoring his first, and the winning, goal in a match against Bristol Rovers in just his third appearance.

He followed this up with 2 goals and 2 assists in a 4-2 win over Milton Keynes Dons and a sensational goal against Plymouth Argyle that saw him pick the ball up by the half-way line and run through numerous players before slotting into the net.

His blistering start earned him the PFA Apprentice of the Month for October 2010 and garnered interest from several clubs during the following January transfer window. He stayed at Rovers until the end of the season, winning the League One Apprentice of the Year award at the Football League Awards, ahead of many talented players including then-Southampton Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (now of Liverpool).

His talents caught the eye of German giants Bayern Munich, who signed Dale for a rumoured fee of £500,000 in the summer of 2011, after just 29 games and 6 goals for Tranmere.

He spent 2 years in Germany, making 36 appearances for the Bayern Munich II side before making a £250,000 transfer back to England with Barnsley. Over 2 years at Oakwell, Jennings made 47 league appearances for the Tykes, as well as 6 loan appearances for Milton Keynes Dons during the 2013-14 campaign. As at Bayern Munich, Jennings struggled to build upon his enormous potential and he was released in 2015, signing for Milton Keynes Dons permanently for the 2015-16 season.

He made just one appearance and was released in February 2016. He has not played since, irrespective of the fact he remains just 24-years-old at the time of writing.

Despite his short career at Prenton Park (just 29 league appearances), Dale's whirlwind impact left a lasting legacy. At a time when the Club was known for functional solidity, Jennings' fearless attacking enthusiasm and dynamic run-making was a breath of fresh air. His individual awards, won in the face of tough competition from excellent players, and the destination of his departure all reinforce just how talented Dale was.

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting prospects of the last few years and a definite icon of the 2010s.

Interesting Fact: Despite giving the SWA numerous memorable moments, Dale was only an active member of the Tranmere first team for a total of 9 months.

Owain Fôn Williams

Debut vs. CHESTERFIELD (06/08/11)

A Welsh goalkeeper, Owain came through the ranks of Crewe Alexandra, signing professional forms in 2006. He was named in the match squad on numerous occasions, but he failed to make a senior appearance for Crewe and left in the summer of 2008.

He signed for Stockport County, making 33 appearances in his debut season and performing to a sufficient standard to be awarded Stockport's Player of the Season honour for 2008-09. After Stockport were relegated from League One the following year, he lost his place and spent short loan spells at Bury and Rochdale in 2010-11, leaving Stockport in the summer of 2011.

He signed for Tranmere in June 2011, initially signing a 2-year contract. Over the course of the next 4 years, Owain would be involved in the highs of League One and the lows of League Two, but he was a consistent performer. He captained the side multiple times, becoming one of the few goalkeepers to so whilst at Prenton Park.

His record of 161 league appearances highlights the consistency with which he performed in a Tranmere shirt, invariably playing when available and rarely putting a foot wrong. By the time he left for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2015, Owain has succeeded in bringing some stability back to an area of the pitch that had, prior to his arrival, been subject to turmoil post-Danny Coyne.

Since departing for Scotland, he has made further 82 appearances and was also a member of the Welsh UEFA Euro 2016 squad that reached the semi-finals of the tournament, having also represented his country at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 levels.

Although the relegations from League One and League Two are not happy memories for the Club, they are still iconic moments in Tranmere Rovers history. With Owain present for both, along with the table-topping exploits of 2012-13, he played a significant part in those events. He was, however, one of the few players to come out of the double-relegation period with his reputation relatively unblemished and his commitment to the cause can never be questioned.

An icon of the 2010s.

Interesting Fact: Away from football, Owain is an accomplished painter. His work has gathered media attention, especially paintings of his Welsh national team comrades' UEFA EURO 2016 exploits.

John Welsh

Debut vs. YEOVIL TOWN (08/08/09)

Born in Wavertree, John's formative football development came at the Liverpool academy, where he remained until 2001, eventually becoming the captain of the reserve side. In 2001, he signed professional terms with Liverpool and he would spend the next 5 years alternating between sporadic senior Liverpool appearances and a loan spell away from Anfield.

Aside from his 4 Liverpool appearances, he played 20 games for Hull City during a 2005-06 loan period. Upon his return, he left Liverpool to sign a permanent contract with the Tigers in 2006.

Whilst at Hull, he made 30 league appearances and scored 1 goal. He also enjoyed loan spells at Chester City (2008), Carlisle United (2008) and Bury (2009), totalling a further 15 matches played. Over 3 years at Hull, he furthered his career appearance total by 45 matches before leaving the club at the end of the 2008-09 season.

It was at this point that Welsh joined forces with former Anfield icon John Barnes, signing for Tranmere Rovers in July 2009 on an initial 1-year contract. He remained at Prenton Park for the next 3 seasons, making 130 league appearances and scoring 11 goals.

He also captained the side at various times during his Tranmere tenure and provided a solid platform for players such as Dale Jennings to build from. His departure at the end of the 2011-12 season was an undoubted blow for Rovers, with Welsh choosing to join Preston North End that summer.

On a personal level, his debut season for Preston was a roaring success, earning the Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year 2012-13. He has since remained a part of the side, helping North End to promotion to the Championship as League One Play-off winners in 2014-15. At the time of writing, John is still contracted to Preston and has amassed over 170 appearances.

Although not immediately eye-catching, John's role in the side was paramount in allowing more creative players express themselves. He was virtually ever-present throughout his tenure at the Club and wore the armband with distinction when called upon. A definite icon.

Interesting Fact: John played a role in Liverpool's 2005 UEFA Champions League success, coming on in the last-16 match away to Bayer Leverkusen on 9th March 2005.

Ryan Lowe

Debut vs. WALSALL (03/08/13)

Liverpool-born Ryan Lowe began his football career in the Liverpool youth ranks. Leaving Liverpool at 15-years-old, Lowe spent time in the Southport youth system before spells with Sandon Dock, Waterlook Dock and Burscough.

His Football League career started with Shrewsbury Town, joining in 2000. He stayed with the Shrews for 5 years, scoring 32 goals in 171 league appearances and 37 goals in 194 appearances in all competitions.

Lowe transferred to Chester City in 2005, scoring 17 goals in 42 matches before again moving to Crewe Alexandra in 2006. In 2 years at Crewe, with a short loan at Stockport County in 2008, Ryan scored 17 goals in 72 appearances, building a reputation as a goal-scorer. He transferred back to former club Chester City in 2008, furthering his Chester tally by 18 goals from 48 appearances in all competitions in 2008-09.

His excellent record that season saw Bury secure his services in 2009 and Ryan remained at Gigg Lane until 2011, scoring an incredible 53 goals in 100 appearances, unsurprisingly catching the attention of other clubs.

One such club was Sheffield Wednesday, who signed Lowe in 2011. He scored 9 goals in 30 appearances for Wednesday before joining Milton Keynes Dons in 2012, for whom he played 51 times and scored 12 goals.

His stellar record convinced Rovers manager Ronnie Moore to sign Lowe in 2013, signing the veteran striker to a 2-year contract in time for the 2013-14 season. Lowe made an immediate impact, scoring 5 in a pre-season friendly against Cammell Laird, which proved to be a pre-cursor for the season to follow.

Despite relegation, Lowe was an outstanding performer for Tranmere, scoring 20 goals in 50 appearances for the Prenton Park side, becoming the first Rovers player since Simon Haworth in 2002-03 to score 20 goals in a season. His goals were vital in helping Tranmere secure points in their ultimately-unsuccessful relegation fight and without him, who knows how much worse that season could have been?

He left Tranmere under a slight cloud, transferring to Bury in the summer of 2014 in a move that was not popular amongst the Rovers faithful. He scored 11 goals in 38 matches as Bury were promoted from League Two, at Prenton Park on the final day of the season no less.

He made further appearances for Bury (2015-16) and former club Crewe (2015-16, 2016-17) before returning to Bury for a third spell in 2016-17, where he currently shares playing duties with the role of Interim Manager at Gigg Lane.

It's understandable that some fans felt let down by the manner of Lowe's Prenton Park departure, given the fact that he was seen as a key figure for any potential promotion push in 2014-15. After all, who wants to lose a 20-goal striker?

His goal-scoring exploits put him in the company of other 20-goal strikers from recent times (there aren't many!) such as Haworth, Norwood and Cook in posting a total not achieved by the likes of Dadi, Greenacre and Hume. For that reason alone, he is a 2010s icon.

Interesting Fact: Ryan's 19 league goals in the 2013/14 season represented a staggering 37% of goals scored by Tranmere as a squad. The rest of the squad combined scored just 33 times between them.

Max Power

Debut vs. PORT VALE (30/08/11)

A Birkenhead native, Max joined the Tranmere youth system in 2002. He continued to represent the Club at youth level for the subsequent 9 years before signing a professional contract in the summer of 2011.

He made his debut for Rovers in a Football League Trophy match against Port Vale in August 2011 before making his league debut on 10th September against Huddersfield Town. His first professional season saw him make 6 appearances in all competitions.

The following year, 2012-13, saw Max's involvement with the senior side greatly increased, making 32 appearances and scoring 4 goals, the first of which came in a 3-0 FA Cup victory away to Braintree Town on 13th November 2012. His development during this season saw him sign a contract extension in March 2012, keeping him at Prenton Park until 2015.

Over the course of the next 2 seasons, Max would make a further 89 appearances in all competitions. His involvement in successive relegations (from League One to the National League) belies his personal development during his Tranmere tenure.

He often captained the side at just 21-years-old and finished the 2014-15 campaign as the Club's top-scorer on 13 goals, an impressive feat for a midfielder in a struggling side. By the time he left Rovers in 2015, he had amassed 127 appearances and 19 goals before he had turned 22-years-old.

His form had attracted much attention and he moved to League One Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2015. His debut season was a success for Max, who made 48 appearances and scored 6 goals in all competitions as Wigan were promoted to the Championship as League One champions. He made another 45 appearances during 2016-17, as Wigan were relegated back to League One at the first time of asking and, as of writing, he plays for Wigan in 2017-18.

A young player who developed through the Club's youth ranks, Power stepped into the limelight amongst the euphoria of the League One dream of 2012-13. He came to prominence, however, during 2 difficult seasons a Prenton Park.

Whilst the Club can be criticised for the overall performance during this period, Max can hold his head high at his contribution. Consistently available for selection, captaining the side multiple times and the Club's last-ever Football League top-scorer, Power's entire career has been played at League One or Championship level, with the exception of that 2014-15 League Two campaign at Rovers.

The last home-grown player to bring in a significant fee upon departure, Max is rightly an icon of the 2010s.

Interesting Fact: Max captained every Tranmere age group he represented, including the first team.

Zoumana Bakayogo

Debut vs. STOCKPORT COUNTY (12/10/09)

Parisian Bakayogo started his football career with hometown Paris Saint-Germain, however he failed to make a senior league appearance in his time there (2004-2006) and he left after 2 years.

He made the trip to England, signing for Millwall in 2006. He made 16 appearances for the Lions in a 2-year tenure that included a loan spell at Brighton and Hove Albion in 2007 (where he played no games).

His time at Millwall was also interrupted by international football, Zoumana called up to represent the Ivory Coast Under-23 side on 4 occasions between 2007 and 2008. He was released from Millwall in 2008, opting to return to France to play for UJA Alfortville, with whom he made 18 appearances during the 2008-09 season.

After a poor start under John Barnes, Tranmere signed left-back Zoumana Bakayogo on 1st September 2009, initially on a short-term basis. His impressive performances under Les Parry saw the Club offer him a deal until the end of the season, which he duly signed.

His debut season saw him make 34 league and cup appearances as he helped Rovers secure an unlikely survival on the final day of the 2009-10 season. He would sign further deals that kept him at the Club until the end of the 2012-13 campaign. In total, Zoumana represented Rovers 146 times and scored 6 goals over the course of his 4-year tenure at Prenton Park.

Bakayogo's performances secured him a move to Championship Leicester City on a 2-year deal in the summer of 2013. Unfortunately, he would suffer a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury whilst on loan at Yeovil Town on 18th January 2014 and he would not play again for almost 2 years.

He joined Crewe Alexandra on loan on 15th January 2016, returning from injury in a match against Swindon Town on 16th January before playing a further 22 times that season. He signed a permanent contract with Crewe in the summer of 2016 and he is still with them as of the time of writing, making 78 appearances so far.

A combination of lightning-pace and old-fashioned tenacity, Zoumana quickly became a cult hero at Prenton Park. His somewhat-unknown pre-Tranmere career meant his performances were a welcome surprise in a season of calamity and defensive football. He played a key role in the swashbuckling football of early 2012-13 and his 146 appearances, at a time of loans and instability, fostered a little familiarity between the SWA and the left-hand side of the team between 2009 and 2013.

A deserving icon of the 2010s.

Interesting Fact: Zoumana never played a game for the manager that brought him to Tranmere. John Barnes left the Club on 9th October 2009, three days before Zoumana made his Rovers debut.