WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
What Tranmere’s 1988-89 Fourth Division runners-up are up to now
ERIC NIXON believes that John King turned a bunch of footballing misfits into the best side in the history of Tranmere Rovers. Nixon was in goal as Tranmere went from within 90 minutes of going out of the Football League to within three points of winning promotion to the Premier League.
And he says that it was all down to the wheeling and dealing of King who once likened building a successful squad to making a good cake – it is all down to ingredients.
In this case, the ingredients were cast-offs from other clubs but King managed to turn them into a squad who went from possible oblivion to the brink of the summit.
Rovers finished just two points behind champions Rotherham United and two points clear of thirdplaced Crewe Alexandra to start their climb through the divisions.
“John had a fantastic recipe,” said Nixon.“He brought in players who weren’t being given the time of day anywhere else. Before then it was like Raggy-Arse Rovers, let alone Tranmere Rovers
“He created a spirit that was second to none. We went from the brink of going out of existence to everybody wanting to jump on the Tranmere Rovers bandwagon.
“He put together what he called a band of brothers. It is hard to believe the club almost went bust.
“Peter Johnson came in and put a lot of money into the club.”
In those days Tranmere played their home games on a Friday night to avoid playing at the same time as Merseyside giants Liverpool and Everton.
“It was like one big party with 12,000 or 13,000 in the ground when we were going through the divisions,” recalled Nixon.
“And then we could sit back over the weekend and watch the other teams suffer, knowing we had three points in the bag.
“We had people like John Morrissey and Dave Martindale who could play football, Ian Muir to score goals, and Dave Higgins and Steve Vickers at the back.
“Prenton Park was like a fortress. Nobody came to our ground and beat us – we just wouldn’t allow teams to settle.” 1. Ken McKenna: Is currently the assistant manager of Morecambe after managing TNS, Cammell Laird and Altrincham. Also served Cambridge United as chief scout. 2. Gary Williams: Scored the most important goal in the history of the club to keep them in the Football League and works on education programmes for the unemployed. 3. Paul Collings: A former goalkeeper who was a cab driver in Liverpool and is now working as a car salesman in the city. 4. Eric Nixon: Has been a goalkeeping coach for Tranmere and Fleetwood. Is now at Chesterfield after a spell as a business development manager for Last Room Extensions. 5. Dave Higgins: After retiring, he joined the Royal Mail in Liverpool, where he works in a sorting office. 6. Eddie Murray: After having a coaching role at Everton’s youth academy for ten years, he now has his own business delivering car parts. 7. Kenny Jones: He was Rovers’ sponge man until replaced by Les Parry in August 1993, and is now working for Wirral Borough Council. 8. Ronnie Moore: Has sat in the manager’s seat at Prenton Park twice. Has also managed Rotherham twice as well as Southport and Oldham. Is now in charge of Hartlepool United. 9. Mark Hughes: A cousin of former Liverpool skipper Emlyn Hughes, he helped run his parents’ guest house in Blackpool. Now lives in Coventry and works for social services. 10. Jim Steele: He left football to join Merseyside Police. Became a sergeant and is part of the police team in South Wirral. 11. Steve Vickers: He became a property developer in the NorthEast and was head of youth development at BHP Sport Management. Is now back in the property business with Crossbury Construction. 12. Chris Malkin: Qualified as a physiotherapist. Worked with Chester Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and Spire Murrayfield Hospital. He now runs his own clinic. 13. Warwick Rimmer: Managed Crewe and Sierra Leone. From 1987 until 2008 he ran Tranmere’s youth team. Is now head of academy recruitment. 14. Norman Wilson: He spent 25 years as club secretary until retiring in 1997. Was then secretary of the Liverpool County FA until 2014. 15. Shaun Garnett: He is now the academy manager at Prenton Park and also runs the centre of excellence at the club. 16. John Morrissey: His father Johnny played for Liverpool and Everton. Went into the family property developing business. 17. Dave Martindale: Is now living and working in Liverpool but is out of touch with his former team-mates. 18. Mark McCarrick: He is now living in Portugal’s Algarve. Is director of football at the Ahdaaf Football Academy and runs a real estate business with his wife. 19. John King (manager): In nine years in charge from 1987-1996, he took them from the bottom of the Fourth Division to the brink of the Premier League. Then became director of football. 20. Ian Muir: Rovers’ record goalscorer is now back in his native Coventry where he is the owner of his own greeting card shop in the city. 21. Jim Harvey: He has managed Morecambe, Forest Green Rovers, Chester City and Stalybridge Celtic. He was also Northern Ireland assistant boss under Sammy McIlroy. 22. Steve Mungall: After running Rovers’ school of excellence and managing Chester City, he ran SM Football in Cyprus. Is now working as a postman in Scotland. 23. Eddie Bishop: The older brother of comedian John Bishop, he managed Witton Albion. Is now an artist and has run a company Aquarius Metalcraft which specialises in iron sculptures.