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FA Cup 4th round, 5th February 1972

Just imagine over 126,000 football fan attending 3 fourth round FA Cup ties at Anfield, Goodison Park and Prenton Park all on the same day. If such a scenario was suggested today police would have a fit of apoplexy, but this is exactly what happened in February 1972 – right in the middle of the miners’ strike – and amazingly the tie between Rovers and then 1st Division Stoke City produced the largest crowd ever recorded at Prenton Park. 24,424, and record receipts of 8,982. With Merseyside caught up in a frenzy of Cup fever Rovers clash with Stoke City turned out to be the pick of the 3 for excitement, though their performance on the day was sadly overshadowed by an outstanding 3rd round tie, non-league Hereford United beating Newcastle United 2-1 with That Ronnie Radford goal. No doubt drawn by the prospect of seeing local heroes like Kenny Beamish and Paul Crossley come up against the likes of Denis Smith, Terry Conroy, George Eastham and the great Gordon Banks, Tranmere fans eagerly snapped up every available ticket. Their confidence was not misplaced for Jackie Wright’s 3rd division battlers fought back gallantly to claim an honourable draw after gifting the Potters a 2 goal lead. The visitors, through took control right from the 1st whistle with cultured veterans Peter Dobing and George Eastham spraying the ball around to bring forward Richie and Conroy into play, and during the opening 15 minutes it looked as though they may swamp poor Rovers. But a combination of sound handling by Tommy Lawrence in the home goal plus heroics from Yeats, Fred Molyneux and Syd Farrimond kept Tony Waddington’s 1st division aristocrats at bay. Richie shot wide in the 22nd minute and Conroy fired into the side netting when it was perhaps easier to score. For Rovers, Beamish and Storton missed reasonable chances before the interval. Maybe the ease with which they were able to dominate lulled Stoke into a false sense of security so when they did finally make the anticipated breakthrough they did not see Rovers’ spirited fight-back coming. A long, accurate pass by Mike Bernard in the 67th minute found Terry Conroy on the edge of the box and the frail looking, ginger haired Irishman turned quickly before hammering a left-foot shot past Lawrence. When big John Richie leapt high to nod a Skeels cross past Lawrence in the 74th minute it seemed all over for Rovers but within 4 minutes  Tranmere had given themselves a lifeline. A corner from Russell was collected by Trevor Storton. His shot was charged down only for player-coach Ron Yeats to score his 1st goal for the club, joyfully smashing the ball past Banks. Roared on by the capacity crowd, Rovers sensationally equalised 2 minutes from time. Paul Crossley, who had been starved of the ball for most of the match, beat his full-back but then lost control of the ball. Thankfully, Storton stepped in to square the loose ball to Ken Beamish and the former draughtsman somehow managed to shovel the ball, and himself, over the line with Banks wrong footed. Prenton Park erupted with hundreds of youngsters invading the pitch in celebration: 1 even cheekily patted Banks on the head! In the replay, however Yeats went from her to zero at the Victoria Ground after being sent off following a clash with Mike Bernard. Some 5,000 Rovers fans trouped home disconsolate at the resulting 2-0 defeat.

Tranmere: Lawrence, Mathias, Farrimond, Molyneux, Yeats, Fagan, Russell, Beamish, M. Moore, Storton, Crossley.

Stoke City: Banks, Skeels, Jump, Bernard, Smith, Bloor, Mahoney, Conroy, Richie, Doding, Eastham.

Referee: H. Davey (Nottingham)

Attendance: 24,424

v Stoke 1972



MOTTO: UBI FIDES IBI LUX ET ROBUR which means "Where there is faith, there is light and strength."

Designed by Ned O'Toole, Paul Harmon and Oisín Ronan.
Special thanks to Tranmere Rovers Football club for the information.