Tranmere Rovers win Mersey Masters Football tournament

TURNING back the clock became an invigorating experience for the man whose job is to develop the players of the future at Prenton Park

Tranmere youth coach Shaun Garnett (pictured) spent last weekend helping a team of Rovers veterans win the Mersey Masters indoor football tournament at the Echo Arena.

It is the second year in succession that Tranmere came out on top in competition with teams drawn from players who served the region’s four professional clubs.

But this time the triumph of the Rovers old boys was even more emphatic than a year ago as they emerged with a 100% record from wins over Everton (twice), Liverpool and Wigan Athletic.

Garnett was back among team-mates from Tranmere’s glory days of the late 1980s and 90s – Eddie Bishop, Kenny Irons, Ged Brannan, John McGrealand Ian Nolan together with comparative youngsters such as Stuart Barlow, Georges Santos and goalkeeper John Achterberg.

“It was a hugely enjoyable experience,” Garnett said. “I had not been with some of those players for quite a few years but after a few minutes we were able to pick things up as if it were yesterday.

“We played together for a long time and we had a lot of success wearing a Tranmere shirt. I think that helped us to gel is a team in the tournament.”

The inclusion of Garnett in place of Steve Mungall, living back in his native Scotland these days, was the only change to the squad that won the event a year ago.

Now Tranmere will go forward to the national finals at Birmingham’s NEC in September.
Garnett added: “We were very well supported on the night by the Tranmere fans, who seemed to be there in numbers. To come out on top against teams from Premiership clubs, with a higher profile, was pleasing.

“We had a meal and a drink afterwards which was like the good old days. Now we have got the finals to look forward to and I can give my ears a rest from being shouted at by Kenny Irons!”

Garnett went quickly back to work at Prenton Park yesterday, taking Tranmere’s youth squad on their first day of pre-season training.

The squad for 2009/10 has been augmented by nine first year scholars this season: Liam Benson, Andrew Coughlan, Callum Fairclough, Jay Gibbs, Dale Jennings, David McNamara, Ben Oliver, Max Power and Connor Roberts.

The six second-year scholars are Joe Collister, Jack Mackreth, Tom Baker, Ross Rule, Jay Ashcroft and Alex Pursehouse.

Tranmere have three first-year professionals this season: midfielders Ryan Fraughan and Ash Taylor together with striker Josh Macauley.

The scholars will join the senior players when they commence preseason training tomorrow (Wednesday) under the new management team of John Barnes and Jason McAteer.