Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it I managed to get to both Wycombe and Tranmere away within a week of each other. Heading into these games Rovers had not won in 12 (Plymouth away in the FA cup which I also attended) and Ben Garner had started to come under pressure to produce results.
The Wycombe game was one we could have some hope of getting a result from. They went into the game in patchy form and Rovers had been showing signs of life against Coventry the week before.
However Wycombe’s home form is pretty solid. They hadn’t lost at home in 10 when we arrived.
The day started with me drinking a can at a bus stop by Eastville Tesco while waiting for my lift to the game. This made me fit in with another bloke who was drinking at 10:30 at the morning, but he wasn’t going to the game. Just fancied a nice sit on the bus stop with a beer.
This was my first trip to Adams park and I was excited to get my hands on a bratwurst and a beer at the ground. Very thoughtfully away fans were put in a tent to make us feel at home. I got my bratwurst (which was lush) but did look over enviously at the bigger home tent with live music on the other side of the car park. Never thought I would be envious of someone else’s tent at a football stadium, but here we are.
The tent was cash only (even the Mem has contactless) and the only beers were Heineken, Fosters and a ropey looking local IPA. The beers ran out before last orders. I’ll leave you to guess in which order they ran out.
The ground itself is at the end of a trading estate with countryside on all other sides. I tend to prefer grounds tucked away in between houses (see Kenilworth Road) but Adams Park was a much better version of the out of town stadiums you often get (see Stadium MK). For a start we weren’t drinking in a frankie and bennies or the megabowl. Secondly and this is probably one just for me, there were a TON of red kites flying around. That was my entertainment sorted in the car park!
Adams park was opened in 1990 with a capacity of just 6000. The low roofed home end gives a clue as to what the stadium would have looked initially. A pretty standard League One ground and one I’m happy to have ticked off the list.
The game itself was lively with both teams creating chances. Unfortunately for us Wycombe took every single half chance that came to them and we squandered most of ours. A special mention to Jayden Mitchel-Lawson who was excellent throughout and fully deserved his goal. He should have added a second, but squandered the chance which was typical of our afternoon.
The ref compounded this by giving soft free kicks to the home side and allowing them to time waste. A very frustrating afternoon all in all!
One thing I can’t abide in English football is a drummer and I managed to forget that Wycombe have one. What was even more embarrassing was that even with a drummer the home fans couldn’t generate an ounce of atmosphere.
This was another new ground for me. I was working in Manchester so thought I’d make the trip across to see Rovers in what I was convinced was going to be the first win of the Garner Revolution (spoiler: it wasn’t).
First obstacle to overcome was storm Ciara. I’d already had a normal 3 hour direct journey from Temple Meads to Manchester Picadilly take 5 and a half hours via Newport and Crewe on the Sunday night and she struck again. Train cancelled so I got to go into the Manchester Victoria station pub and have a livener and admire the old part of the station.
Got myself over to a freezing Tranmere via the little train that goes under the Mersey. Whenever someone complains about transport in the south they should be taken on a tour of the North on public transport. The pacer trains out to Rochdale have been a particular low light for me recently.
The final stretch to Prenton Park was a bus ride. Sat at the bus station I thought I was in company of a lot of people speaking in other languages, but it slowly dawned on me these people were speaking in the broadest scouse accent I’d ever heard. I had to concentrate really hard to catch what they were saying. God help anyone who has English as a second language understanding them!
Got the bonus of a free bus ride as the driver was late for something. Waved everyone on and was driving like Colin Mcrae. A true wonder to behold as he ran very questionable yellow lights.
Got to the Prenton Park pub in record time for a swifter before the match. Seemed the pub was split into two rooms. One for Gas and one for everyone else. Walking up to the pub which is in the shadow of the ground I did get a bit excited as Prenton looked from the outside to be a proper old school ground.
I wasn’t disappointed when I got in either. I was very surprised the match was on given the storms and it had been pissing it down all day in Manchester. However a steward informed me they’d had no rain in the Wirral so it was never in doubt. The win was horribly biting, but I managed to find a pillar to hide behind and with a bovril managed to keep reasonably warm.
The game itself was another Rovers domination (just like Bolton) without getting the result the performance deserved. The horrible wind and terrible pitch did their bit for stopping a flowing game, but Rovers crated more than enough chances to win the game. Mitchel-Lawson again proving to be a bright spark in a reasonably drab affair.
Managed to lose my train ticket home so had to pay Northern £17 for a ticket on the train. I was happy that I’d get the refund for the ticket out until I realised they took a £10 admin fee for the refund meaning I’d only get £7. Robbing bastards!
Only highlight of the journey home was this sign which sounds like its written in Bristolian.