Were you there?

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 27 February 2007
Program from the League Cup Final





















Kelly scores Tranmeres only goal in a major cup final

































Kelly celebrates after scoring "that" goal













































Today we take a look back in the archives at Sunday 27th February 2000, a date which is now remembered fondly by Tranmere fans for the first time they would play in a major cup final.


Date: February 27th, 2000
Venue:
Wembley Stadium
Competition: Worthington Cup Final
Result: Leicester City 2-1 Tranmere Rovers

After beating Bolton in the semi-final, 4-0 on aggregate, John Aldridge and his Tranmere side secured a place at Wembley to play Premiership side Leicester City, managed by Martin O'Neill.

The game would be Rovers first trip to Wembley for nine years but also they would become the last team to play in a League Cup Final at the old Wembley along with Leicester, as the stadium was set to close for building work in the summer.

Tranmere were allocated over 20,000 tickets and easily sold out their allocation thanks to the help of a number of Liverpool and Everton fans who for one day and one day only were to become fans of the Super White Army.

Wembley there fore was a mass of blue and white, with the Rovers end stripped out in white and blue compared to the Leicester end of the stadium being just blue.

Again Rovers were missing a number of key players as Phil Babb had returned to Liverpool following his loan spell whilst Wayne Allison was again out cup-tied and add to that the fact that Joe Murphy and Gareth Roberts were only just returning from injury themselves meant Rovers already had an up-hill struggle.

After the opening ceremonies, which saw both teams sing the National Anthem and meet football league personel of high status, the game got underway with both sets of fans roaring their team forward.

The opening 10 minutes was very lively, as David Kelly, the cups leading scorer, had an effort saved by Leicester 'keeper Tim Flowers, whilst Dave Challinor prevented Emile Heskey having a shooting opportunity before Clint Hill recieved a yellow card on ten minutes after a poor challange on Oakes.

Rovers had the ball in the Leicester net on 13 minutes thanks to Kelly netting into an open goal, but the goal was (wrongly) ruled out for offside against Scott Taylor who had squared the ball to Kelly when the ball was passed to him by Alan Mahon by lineswoman Wendy Tomms, the first women to officiate in a major cup final in England.

Rovers had another chance minutes later as Taylor shot over the bar although had he passed to Kelly in a better position Rovers may have scored.

However, on 27 minutes the Premiership side took the lead through central defender Matt Elliot, who was to become the Foxes hero of the day.

Robbie Savage swung a corner into the box and Elliot out jumped Dave Challinor to head against the cross bar with the ball bouncing down and in off Joe Murphy's back, 1-0 Leicester.

That was it for the action in the first half as the Foxes went into the Wembley dressing rooms with the lead at the break, although it was debatable as to whether they deserved it.

On 60 minutes with little action having happened so far in the second half, the action began to flow as firstly referee Alan Wilkie was stretchered off with an injury and replaced by fourth official Phil Richards.

Unfortunately for Rovers, the first action from Mr. Richards was to produce a yellow card for Clint Hill after the defender brought down Emile Heskey in the Rovers half of the field.

A second booking for Hill meant that he was once again sent off and that Rovers were down to ten men, with Hill becoming only the second player to be sent off in a league cup final. However, having seen the replays on TV, Hill had every reason to be aggrieved by the decision as Heskey was offside when the ball was played to him but this was missed by Tomms.

Now with only three defenders on the pitch, manager John Aldridge was forced to replace Andy Parkinson with Steve Yates on 66 minutes in defence despite Rovers still looking for that equalising goal, and on 77 minutes they got it, possibly the proudest moment ever experienced for a Tranmere fan.

Rovers won a free-kick just inside their half of the field for a foul on Alan Mahon which was launched forward by left-back Gareth Roberts towards the Leicester penalty area.

The ball was won in the air by Gary Jones who was un-marked and he nodded the ball down to David Kelly who beat Tim Flowers at his near post from a tight angle with his first touch, a fantastic finish.

As the ball hit the back of the net, the Rovers fans errupted as the Leicester end fell silent. The goal was indeed Tranmere's first goal in a major cup final and the Tranmere fans were extactic.

Although only nine at the time, I can remember how it felt when that goal went in and it is hard to put into words, but it is for me the best thing that I have ever seen Tranmere do and my proudest moment as a football fan.

It is indeed a goal that no Rovers fan who went to the game will ever forget and nor will they ever forget the day when they travelled to Wembley - the memories will last a life time.

On seeing the ball hit the back of the net, goalscorer Kelly just fan behind the goal towards the Tranmere fans - he couldn't control himself as he ran over to them in jubilation.

However, just four minutes after Kelly had got the First Division side level and with the 20,000+ Tranmere fans chanting "Your not singing any more", Leicester once again took the lead through Matt Elliot.

This time, the corner from which Elliot scored was delivered by Steve Guppy, however again Elliot beat Challinor to the ball and scored his second goal of the game and possibly his most important goal for Leicester City FC or of his career.

When the ball hit the back of the net on this occassion, it was the Tranmere fans who fell silent as the blue end of the stadium errupted.

Rovers looked for the second equaliser, but a man down and of course a division below their opponents this was never likely, although Scott Taylor did rattle the cross-bar in injury time as Tranmere hoped for extra-time.

After that, I remember Matt Elliot recieving the Man of the Match award for the match and then the destraught Tranmere players trudging up the Wembley steps to receive their runners-up medals before I wittnessed Leicester raising the League Cup aloft which gave me one of the worst feelings I have ever felt as a Tranmere fan.

Leicester 2-1 Tranmere
Elliot 29 Kelly 77
Elliot 81

Leicester City: Flowers, Sinclair, Elliot, Taggart, Savage, Guppy, Izzet, Lennon, Oakes (Impey 77), Heskey, Cottee (Marshall 89)

Tranmere Rovers: Murphy, Roberts, Hill, Challinor, Hazell, Parkinson (Yates 66), Henry, Jones, Mahoon, Kelly, Taylor

Attendance: 74,313

Referee: Alan Wilkie (replaced by Phil Richards 60)

Trending on the boards