Tranmere Rovers take on Forest Green Rovers in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final on Friday night.
For those old enough to remember, Friday night football at Tranmere was an iconic staple of Merseyside football culture throughout the 70′, 80’s and ’90s. Tranmere hosted games on a Friday night knowing many on the Wirral were Liverpool and Everton supporters and that an earlier kickoff would encourage their support and leave the rest of the weekend for a focus on the neighbouring big two.
Rovers built a solid fan base and ultimately embarked on a hugely successful era under legendary manager Johnny King. The rise under King was predominantly played under the floodlights of Prenton Park on a Friday night and was a tremendously fruitful period with semi-finals, cup finals and, almost, Premier League football, the club reaching the Championship playoffs three times between 1993 and 1995.
The success brought large attendances and the games are often remembered for being feisty passionate affairs. Football fans in the area look back on the days fondly, including Liverpool and Everton supporters who would take the opportunity to watch a game before the main event of their sides fixture the following day.
This season has already seen a return of Friday night football to Birkenhead with local rivals Macclesfield Town and Crewe Alexandria both leaving with no points after visiting Prenton Park and playing under the lights on the eve of the weekend.
The Forest Green game is massive, and manager Micky Mellon will be hoping memories of the glory days on a Friday night will inspire the Super White Army to ramp up the volume and make a passionate and loud atmosphere and inspire his team to a convincing victory to take down to the south-west for the return leg.
Fantastic to see an unusual piece of English football culture return.
Anyone who followed football thirty years ago will remember it.
The fact the fixture is being played on a Friday night can only help increase the atmosphere and sense of occasion.
Many fans might not be able to remember the glory days under King and then Aldridge but they will have read about them and will want to make their own unique Friday night memories this week.
It should be a white-hot atmosphere and I think this might prove to be the difference between the two sides and I take Tranmere to take a lead into the second leg.