Hall of Fame
Article by Tranmere Mad
Updated Wednesday, 26th May 2010
Tranmere Rovers Football Club's official Hall of Fame
Tranmere Rovers' first ever Hall of Fame members are being announced this week following a supporters vote earlier this year.
We here at Tranmere Mad will be announcing each inductee into the Hall of Fame as they are announced on the club's official website.
The striker who scored 146 goals from 330 appearances in the Football League playing for Tranmere, Queens Park Rangers, Burnley, Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Swindon Town and Darlington. He also played in the Hong Kong First Division League for Sing Tao and Happy Valley, before returning to non-league football in England with Nuneaton Borough and Stratford Town. He is Tranmere's all-time record goalscorer, with 180 goals in all competitions.
Muir was signed to Tranmere Rovers by player-manager, Frank Worthington, who was his striking partner in his first season at the club.
Despite his evident promise, he spent his early career at Rovers immersed in struggle, as the club languished in the basement of the league and Muir was part of the side that beat Exeter City 1-0 to save Rovers from automatic relegation from Division Four in 1987. He set up the crucial goal, headed in by Gary Williams in the 77th minute of the last game of that season.
Muir prospered when new manager, John King, signed a big target-man, Jim Steel, as his strike partner in late 1987. Within four years, Rovers had been promoted twice and appeared at Wembley five times, with Muir scoring in the FA's centenary celebrations in 1988 and in Tranmere's Leyland DAF Trophy victory over Bristol Rovers in 1990.
Injury prevented Muir partaking in the final strait of Rovers' promotion run in 1991 when they reached the second tier of English football for only the second time in their history. That summer, the signing of John Aldridge at Tranmere led to the marginalisation of Ian Muir, who remained a regular goalscorer when called upon for the remainder of his Tranmere career.
To a generation of Tranmere Rovers fans, Ian Muir is remembered as a legendary player, who played the starring role in the greatest period of the club's history.
Aldridge took a long time to reach the top of the game. He began his career in the mid-1970s at non-league South Liverpool, before getting his break in the professional game when, aged 20, he signed for Newport County on 2 May 1979 for £3,500.
When at Somerton Park, "Aldo", as he came to be known, played 198 times scoring 87 goals, a goal every 2¼ games, including a respectable 7 goals in just 12 FA Cup matches. He partnered Tommy Tynan and Dave Gwyther for four years at Somerton Park, helping Newport to promotion from the Fourth Division and into the European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals.
His first season with County, 1979-80, had been highly promising with 14 goals from 38 games as his side won the Welsh Cup and gained promotion to the Third Division. A year later he featured in the side that achieved the famous European run, though in the league he was less impressive with seven goals from 27 league games. 1981-82 was a bit better as he scored 11 times in 36 games, but in 1982-83 he did better still with 17 games from 41 games as County narrowly missed out on promotion to the Second Division.
In 1983-84, with Tynan departed, Aldridge had scored 26 times by the end of February and County were by then a competent Third Division side.
He then joined, for £78,000, Oxford United on 21 March 1984 when the club were in the pre-1992 Third Division. He made his debut on 7 April 1984 coming on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Walsall at Fellows Park. His first goal was in the 5-0 home win against Bolton Wanderers on 20 April 1984.
He was used sparingly in the run-in to the Third Division title but the following season forged a great partnership with Billy Hamilton and became the first Second Division player for 19 years to score as many as 30 goals. He broke the club's record number of goals in a season in 84/85 as the U's gained promotion to the pre-1992 First Division; he scored 34 goals with 30 coming in the league.
In Division One he was the third-highest League scorer and netted six goals in United's League Cup-winning run in 1986, which culminated in a 3-0 victory over QPR in the final at Wembley. This is Oxford's only major trophy. He was also impressive in the league, as his 23 goals from 39 games were crucial in Oxford avoiding relegation.
John Aldridge is fondly remembered by Oxford fans for his role in Oxford United's unprecedented years of success between 1984 and 1986. He ended up playing 141 times for the U's scoring 90 goals, a goal every 1½ games, including 14 League Cup goals in just 17 ties. He scored four goals against Gillingham. in the League Cup on 24 September 1986 and three hat-tricks, the first in the 5-2 beating of Leeds United on 24 November 1984.
Liverpool were losing their chief striker Ian Rush to Juventus at the end of the 1986/87 season and needed a proven and experienced replacement. Aldridge even bore a physical resemblance to Rush. He signed for Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool on 27 January 1987 for £750,000 and cut his teeth with the club as a partner for Rush (filling a position previously occupied by player-manager Kenny Dalglish and fellow striker Paul Walsh) as Liverpool ended the year trophyless, including a Wembley defeat to Arsenal in the League Cup final, for which Aldridge was ineligible.
By the time of his transfer to Liverpool in that 1986-87 league campaign, Aldridge had already scored 15 goals for Oxford in the space of 25 games.
Aldridge made his debut for the Reds on 21 February 1987, when he came on as a 46th-minute substitute for Craig Johnston in the 2-2 league draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park. His first goal for his new club came a week later on 28 February; it came in the 60th minute and was the only goal of the game as Liverpool beat Southampton 1-0 in a league match at Anfield.
If people wondered whether Aldridge was up to the job of replacing Rush and could cope with the pressure, they soon didn't need to. After Rush left, Aldridge scored 26 goals in what turned out to be a magnificent season for Liverpool, including a strike in each of the first nine games. He linked up with new signings Peter Beardsley and John Barnes to form one of the most exciting attacking lines in the club's history as Liverpool lost just twice in the League championship season and went unbeaten for the first 29 matches. The 1988 title was won with some comfort. He was assigned with the number 8 shirt for the 1987-88 season, as manager Kenny Dalglish felt that giving Aldridge the number 9 (previously worn by Rush) would put the pressure on him, and the number 9 shirt went to winger Ray Houghton who had coincidentally also been Aldridge's team-mate at Oxford.
Aldridge scored both goals in the club's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, including a memorable volley from an outstanding team move. He was also an efficient penalty-taker, but a predictable one too, which led to his season and that of Liverpool ending in heartbreak. With Wimbledon 1-0 up at Wembley, midway through the second half, Liverpool were awarded a spot kick when Aldridge himself was fouled. Wimbledon goalkeeper Dave Beasant had anticipated that Aldridge would strike any penalty given in the FA Cup final to his left as Aldridge had gone that way with every one of his kicks that season, never failing to score. Aldridge did, as predicted, place the penalty to Beasant's left and the keeper sprang across to save it. He became the first keeper to save a penalty in the FA Cup final at Wembley. Aldridge's failure was his first penalty miss for Liverpool. He was substituted shortly afterwards as Liverpool lost 1-0.
The following season was tough and eventful for Aldridge. Rush failed to settle in Italy and Liverpool negotiated a cut-price deal to bring him back to Anfield. This led to natural speculation that Aldridge would be surplus to requirements, but manager Kenny Dalglish disproved this by regularly playing the two together (despite reservations that the two were stylistically too similar to be strike partners) and, indeed, it was Aldridge who enjoyed the better form during the season, with Rush struggling to re-acquaint himself in his familiar surroundings. In the Charity Shield match against Wimbledon at Wembley, Aldridge started the match and mildly laid his FA Cup ghosts to rest by scoring both goals in a 2-1 win. Aldridge maintained his hot scoring streak while Rush often had to content himself with a place on the bench.
On 15 April 1989, crushes on the terraces at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough left 94 Liverpool fans dead (the final death toll was 96) and Aldridge, as a native Liverpudlian and boyhood supporter of the club, was deeply affected by the tragedy. He attended every funeral he could and publicly contemplated giving up the game. Ultimately, he returned to the fray and scored two goals in the re-arranged semi-final (once again versus Nottingham Forest) at Old Trafford as Liverpool won 3-1. He courted controversy with the third goal, an own goal by Forest defender Brian Laws: Aldridge was criticised for ruffling the distraught player's hair and laughing in celebration.
Aldridge fully redeemed himself for his penalty failure a year earlier by scoring in the FA Cup final at Wembley against Merseyside rivals Everton after just 4 minutes with his first touch of the ball. Ironically, it was Rush who ultimately sealed the win when he replaced Aldridge and scored twice in extra time to earn Liverpool a 3-2 victory. He had scored 21 league goals that season, and 31 in all competitions - making him one of the highest scorers in the league that season.
The "double" of League championship and FA Cup, achieved by Liverpool in 1986 but denied to them by Wimbledon in 1988, was again possible, with a decider against Arsenal come at Anfield. Aldridge played in a game which would guarantee Liverpool the title as long as Arsenal didn't win by two clear goals but, 1-0 down in injury time, Liverpool conceded another goal to Michael Thomas with virtually the last kick of the season thus losing the League. Aldridge sank prostrate on to the turf, inconsolable, when the final whistle sounded, and reacted angrily when Arsenal defender and Irish teammate David O'Leary helped him to his feet.
Aldridge played 104 times for his boyhood favourites scoring 63 goals - 50 of them in the Football League.
The following season Rush was fully settled back into the Anfield groove and, with Dalglish reverting to a 4-4-2 formation with Rush and Beardsley as first choice strikers, Liverpool accepted an offer of £1,000,000 from Basque side Real Sociedad for Aldridge. This would make Aldridge the first non-Basque player ever to sign for Sociedad. Before he left Liverpool, he was given a special run-out as a substitute during the club's record-shattering 9-0 win over Crystal Palace in order to score a penalty in front of the Spion Kop. He threw his shirt and boots into the crowd at the end and signed for the Basques the next day, 1 September 1989.
Aldridge was a hit at Atotxa, then Real Sociedad's stadium, Donostia - San Sebastián, scoring 40 goals in just 63 appearances. Despite his success, his family were finding it hard to adapt to the different lifestyle in Basque country. Aldridge handed in a transfer request in 1991 to the newly appointed manager John Toshack after just two seasons with the club.
A return to Merseyside on 11 July 1991 with Tranmere was Aldridge's next step. He repaid the bargain price of £250,000 as he scored a club-record 40 goals in his first season at Prenton Park - scoring his 40th goal against former club Oxford United.
Aldridge made his debut for Rovers aged 32 on the 17 August 1991 scoring both the goals in the 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Goldstone Ground. He eventually amassed a total of 294 appearances for the club scoring 174 goals, a goal every 1.7 games, including 22 goals from just 25 League Cup ties.
His goals also helped them reach their highest position ever in the league - top-six finishes in the second tier in 1993, 1994 and 1995 - which delivered playoff victories each time, but all of them ended in semi-final defeats. This meant that Tranmere could not make it to the Premier League, and Aldridge missed out on the chance of a return to the top flight. At Tranmere, Aldridge also came close to the chance of winning another major trophy - something which would have been unthinkable at the club just a couple of years earlier - as they took Aston Villa to a penalty shoot-out in the 1993-94 League Cup semi-finals before bowing out to the eventual competition winners. Coincidentally, Villa had tried to sign Aldridge 18 months before turning their attention to Dean Saunders (the player who had replaced him at Oxford a few years earlier) instead.
During his career in England alone he played 739 games, scoring 411 times, an incredible goal every 1.8 games. In 1996, he became player-manager of Tranmere, finally giving up playing and concentrating on the management side two years later. In 889 career appearances, he scored a record 476 goals, a tally not matched by any goalscorer in post-war English football to this day.
Tranmere were involved in some memorable runs and giant-killing acts in cup competitions, including reaching the 2000 Football League Cup Final (which they lost to Leicester City) and consecutive FA Cup quarter-finals in 2000 and 2001. However, they were relegated into English football's third tier in 2001, where they have since remained. Aldridge resigned in March 2001 just before Rovers went down, and has yet to return to management.
Aldridge is now a pundit with various media organisations - most notably with Radio City 96.7 where he summarises on the station's Liverpool commentaries home and away. He also continues to play in the Liverpool veterans' team. In 1998, he asked Hyder Jawad to ghost-write his autobiography. John Aldridge: My Story was published by Hodder & Stoughton the year after.
In 2006 he gained media celebrity in Ireland by appearing in RTE's Charity You're A Star competition. Despite not having a natural singing voice, John won the competition and in the process raised money for his nominated charity Temple Street Children's Hospital.
Aldridge was a crowd favourite everywhere he went, especially on Merseyside where being a local lad helped his cause. This was confirmed when a poll conducted by the official Liverpool Football Club web site during the summer of 2006 placed him in a respectable 26th position. 110,000 Liverpool supporters worldwide took part in the poll named '100 Players Who Shook The Kop,' where they were asked to name their favourite Reds of all time.
King started his career at Everton in 1957 and played close to 50 games over his three year associational with the club. In 1960 he moved on to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic, before signing with Tranmere Rovers later in the year. Over eights years with Tranmere he made well over 200 appearances before joining Port Vale in June 1968. At Vale too he was a first team regular, even playing in a goalless home draw with Swansea Town on 18 October 1969, despite having chickenpox at the time. He played regularly through the 1969-70 promotion season, but after chipping his ankle bone in November was sidelined for four months. He left on a free transfer to Wigan Athletic in May 1971.
King was first appointed as Tranmere manager in 1975, but was sacked in 1980. He moved on to Rochdale as a coach before taking the reins at Northwich Victoria and then Welsh club Caernarfon Town, at Caernarfon he was at the helm for some of the most successful seasons in the club's history.
He was appointed manager of Tranmere for a second time by Peter Johnson towards the end of the 1986–87 season, with the club fighting not to finish bottom of the Fourth Division and be relegated from the Football League. Safety was only guaranteed in the last game of the season with a 1–0 home win over Exeter City, with Tranmere's winning goal scored by midfielder Gary Williams.
From there, King took Tranmere up two divisions, and the club narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League. King brought such big name signings as John Aldridge, Pat Nevin and Gary Stevens to Prenton Park, but their crowds did not increase much and the club had to sell players such as Steve Vickers and Ian Nolan to survive. In 1996, with Rovers struggling for form in the league, chairman Frank Corfe appointed John Aldridge as player-manager, and King was "moved upstairs" to become Director of football.
He is widely regarded as being the most successful manager in the history of Tranmere Rovers, and he had a stand at Prenton Park named in his honour in 2002.
Born in Liverpool, Mathias was spotted playing for Ellesmere Port Town at just 15-years of age and joined Rovers in 1964. It took him four years to make his first team debut but once he did he spent very little time out of the team. He spent his entire playing career with Rovers from 1964 to 1985, earning two testimonials in the process; a true one-club man, making 567 Football League appearances. His time at Tranmere was not very fruitful, his most notable achievement being winning promotion from the Fourth Division in the 1975–76 season.
After retiring from playing, Mathias joined the coaching staff at Wigan Athletic and spent three years in charge of the Latics from 1986–89. The highlight of this spell was leading Wigan to the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1987. He later returned to Tranmere as a coach but then returned to Wigan as manager for the 1998/99 season; despite leading the club to victory in the Football League Trophy final at Wembley and the Second Division play-offs he lost his job shortly afterwards.
After once again becoming part of the managerial set-up at Tranmere and spells as caretaker manager, he was finally handed the reins on a permanent basis in 2002 but sacked a year later. Mathias then had an unsuccessful caretaker spell at Chester City in 2004 and briefly worked as assistant manager at Bury in 2005. In October 2006 he was appointed as assistant manager to Paul Ince at League Two strugglers Macclesfield Town. The pair were able to guide the Silkmen to an unlikely survival before moving to Milton Keynes Dons where they achieved more success, winning the League Two championship and the Football League Trophy. They subsequently moved on to top flight team Blackburn Rovers in June 2008.
On 18th Of December 2008 Ray Matthias was relieved of his duties along with Archie Knox following the sacking of Paul Ince and the subsequent arrival of Sam Allardyce as the new Rovers manager.