A trip down memory lane for Tranmere…

Eleven years ago this week,  February 20th 2001 to be precise,struggling first division Tranmere played host to Premier League outfit Southampton in the fifth round of the FA cup.

This game turned out to be one of the most memorable FA cup games in years gone by.

Already renowned giant killers Rovers were searching for more cup shocks. The previous year saw the super whites make the League Cup final, then know as the Worthington Cup final losing 2-1 to Leicester City in a closely-fought final.

For myself, the day was very memorable. Living in Coventry, we had to travel up on the day of the game. I remember my dad dragging me out of school early. Lads in my class were telling me how we were to get battered; a rise smile hit my face as I left school.

We had already played Southampton at the Dell and clung onto a 0-0 draw and the buzz leading up to the game was brilliant.

The first half was one for Rovers players and fans to forget. By half time, Rovers were three nil down and didn’t look half the team they had shown in the previous rounds. I remember aged seven asking my dad to go home half time. He replied “Just enjoy watching a Premier League team.” Goals from Hassan Kachloul, Jo Tessem and Dean Richards gave manager John Aldridge enough fire to fuel a team talk at half time.

The second half was one that Rovers fans will never, ever forget. Three quick goals from Paul Rideout brought the game back level at 3-3 and a fourth was added by Stuart Barlow. In that second half, the Rovers players showed tremendous courage and determination.

All night the Rovers fans created an atmosphere which was absolutely amazing and when the fourth and winning goal hit the back of the net, the KOP erupted. The scenes of jubilance were seen all over the ground, while the top-flight Southampton players and fans looked completely shell-shocked.

I will never forget John Aldridge’s celebration as he ran out of his technical area to punch the air in celebration. In contrast, Glenn Hoddle’s face looked like something out of a horror movie. He could not believe his team had let a three goal lead slip.

As the final whistle went, Prenton Park went into pandemonium again with fans piling onto the pitch. Rovers fans had witnessed probably the most finest comeback this country had ever seen and although we were to crash out of the cup in the quarter final against Liverpool, it was certainly a moment never to forget for Tranmere supporters.

By Tranmere blogger James Formstone