Former Tranmere, Rotherham and Burton defender Ian Sharps talks us through his football memories
First match? I remember going to Tranmere Rovers versus Halifax when I was a kid. My family were big Tranmere fans and I used to go to watch them every week. I remember everyone saying that Frank Worthington was really good when he was playing and that was one of my earliest memories. So, that Halifax game must have been between 1985 and 1987. First hero? I remember watching the 1986 FA Cup final when Liverpool beat Everton 3-1. I was a Red and my brother was a Blue because we always used to do things differently, as brothers do. At halftime, Everton were winning 1-0, so he was quite happy, but come full-time he was pretty upset. I didn’t have a specific hero. I admired the whole Liverpool team, but that game was the first one I remember properly. First boots? I am a black boot man. I got my first pair when I was young and they were completely black Patrick boots – a far cry from what you see nowadays! I still only wear black boots now, maybe because of the first pair I was given. First kit? The first kit I remember getting was a Liverpool kit in the 1980s. There were no numbers and names on the back in those days, so it was just a red home strip. I was a Tranmere and Liverpool fan back then. First game? The first club I played for when I was a kid was Neston Nomads – the team was based in the next town to us – and I have now come full circle and played for the Vets the other week. In terms of professional football, in 1998 I remember missing a header on my debut for Tranmere, which was against Sunderland. I was only 17 and I also got taken off injured that game, so it wasn’t the best start to my career at all! It took me another three years to get back in the team. First goal? I scored from the halfway line for Neston Nomads, but it was not Beckhamesque or anything. It was a long defender’s punt down the pitch and, because the goalkeepers were so small at that age, it just went over his head! I think my first professional goal was for Tranmere in a 3-1 loss against Cheltenham. Their goalkeeper spilled it and I tapped in from close range First red card? It was a game for Tranmere on the last day of the season – maybe 2003-04. I was running in front of the striker and somehow got penalised for pulling him back. It didn’t make any sense to me because I was in front! It was against Grimsby Town but we ended up winning 2-1. I missed only the first game of the next season. I didn’t receive too many red cards in my career. Mainly they were either for professional fouls after bringing down the last man or receiving a second booking.
RED HEAVEN: Ian Rush rounds Everton keeper Bobby Mimms to score for Liverpool in the 1986 FA Cup final