Special feature: Tranmere Rovers – North Wales connection

Andy Parkinson (second left) in his Prestatyn Town days. Parkinson was a Tranmere Rovers hero long before he landed at Bastion Gardens. Picture: Prestatyn Town FC

Defender Adam Buxton became the latest former Tranmere Rovers player to sign for a North Wales club when he moved to Prestatyn Town this week.

Buxton joins a long list of Prentonians who have ended up playing for teams based in Gogledd Cymru during their careers.

This 30-player roll-call comprises individuals who were at Tranmere first before switching allegiance to either the Welsh pyramid or North Wales clubs in the English system.

Maybe you can think of others…..

Years they played for Tranmere are in brackets after players’ names.

The Tranmere Rovers-North Wales football connection

1 Nigel Adkins (1983-86)

Nigel Adkins during his time at Bangor City (Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Goalkeeper who joined Tranmere in 1983 and made 86 league appearances over three years before moving to Wigan Athletic.

Spent seven years with the Latics before joining Bangor City as player-manager in 1993.

Won two League of Wales titles with the Citizens and made 95 appearances for the Farrar Road club.

Went on to manage Scunthorpe United, Southampton, Reading, Sheffield United and Hull City.

2 Neil Ashton (2003-04; 2005)

Ashton started his career with Tranmere Rovers as a youth player in 2001 and turned professional in 2003.

He was part of the senior squad until 2005 making just one league appearance during his time at Prenton Park.

The defender was more successful with Shrewsbury Town and Wrexham, winning the FA Trophy with the latter in 2012-13, although he missed the final due to injury.

Joined Welsh Premier club Cefn Druids in 2017 and signed for Llandudno in September 2020.

3 Liam Benson (2010-11)

Rock solid left-back who was at Tranmere in 2010-11.

Later played for Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Flint Town United.

4 Dave Challinor (1994-2002)

Centre-back who once possessed the longest throw in world football.

Tranmere legend Challoner represented the club in the 2000 Football League Cup Final.

Made 140 league appearances for the club between 1994-2002 before moving on to Stockport County and Bury.

Appointed player-manager at Colwyn Bay in 2010-11 and led them into the Conference North.

Went on to manage AFC Fylde and is now boss of Hartlepool United.

5 Andy Coughlin (2010-12)

England C international from Bootle who started his career in the Centre of Excellence of Tranmere Rovers aged 15 and signed a two-year apprenticeship in the summer of 2009.

In April 2011, Coughlin signed his first professional contract, on a one-year deal.

Made just two first-team appearances for Rovers before spells at Wrexham and Barrow.

In recent years has played for Colwyn Bay, Bangor City and Airbus.

6 Craig Curran (2006-10)

Craig Curran. Pic: NCM Media

Forward who made 112 appearances in all competitions for Tranmere between 2006-10, netting 16 goals.

Much-travelled player who had stops at Carlisle United, Morecambe, Rochdale, Chester, Limerick, Nuneaton, Ross County, Dundee United and Dundee before signing for Cymru Premier champions Connah’s Quay Nomads in January 2020.

7 Ryan Fraughan (2009-11)

Attacking midfielder who featured in 19 league matches for Tranmere between 2008-11.

Joined Aberystwyth Town on loan in 2010, later signing for Stockport County before spells with The New Saints, Connah’s Quay Nomads and Airbus.

8 Neil Gibson (1997-2000)

Was a pro at Tranmere from 1997-2000, making one substitute appearance before having a brief spell at former Welsh Premier side Rhyl in 2000-01.

Later with Sheffield Wednesday, Southport, Halesowen Town and Leigh RMI before joining hometown club Prestatyn Town in 2005.

Went on to win Welsh Alliance and Cymru Alliance titles with Prestatyn, the latter as player-manager, before leading the club into the Welsh Premier, where they spent eight seasons in total, also lifting the Welsh Cup and winning in Europe during this period.

Earned 12 Wales Under-21 caps.

9 Danny Harrison (2001-07)

Danny Harrison. Pic: NCM Media

Made 115 Football League appearances for Rovers between 2001-07, then after five years at Rotherham United returned to Prenton Park in 2012-13.

Midfielder who was at Chester between 2013-15, then joined Connah’s Quay Nomads, where he has been a key figure in the club’s rise to prominence in the Welsh Premier under Andy Morrison.

10 Alex Hay (1999-2004)

Forward who made 50 first-team appearances for Tranmere prior to spells with Rushden & Diamonds and Morecambe.

Joined Bangor City in 2005-06 and switched to Rhyl in 2006-07, but was only a fleeting success in the Welsh Premier before departing for Cammell Laird where he really found his touch in front of goal and later became player-manager.

Later took up scouting roles with Chester, Stockport County and AFC Fylde alongside Dave Challinor and Neil Young.

11 Richard Hinds (1998-2003)

Defender who served Tranmere for five seasons, playing in 69 matches in all competitions.

Went on to chalk up more than 300 Football League appearances with Hull, Scunthorpe, Sheffield Wednesday, Lincoln, Yeovil and Bury before landing at Llandudno in 2014-15.

12 Luke Holden (2006-07)

Trainee at Tranmere for a season before signing for Welsh Premier full-timers The New Saints in 2007.

Has played for numerous clubs – Welsh and English.

Perhaps his most memorable season involved being part of Rhyl’s WPL title-winning squad of 2008-09.

Also played at Connah’s Quay Nomads and Colwyn Bay, as well as having a loan stint at Wrexham.

13 Danny Holmes (2007-09 & 2011-15)

Danny Holmes. Pic: NCM Media

Had two spells at Tranmere, the first between 2007-09 when he made just one league appearance.

His second stint was much more productive, playing in 152 first-team games for the Birkenhead-based club between 2011-15.

Has also turned out for Southport, Fleetwood Town, Newport County (in League Two), AFC Fylde and York City, while the right-sided defender has excelled in the Welsh Premier for The New Saints, Bangor City and Connah’s Quay Nomads.

14 Kenny Irons (1989-1999)

All-time Tranmere great who made 351 Football League appearances for the club, netting 54 goals.

Later starred for Huddersfield Town, scoring a famous League Cup winner against Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea, and spent a season at Linfield before representing Cefn Druids and Caernarfon Town in the Welsh Premier.

15 Michael Johnston (2007-08)

Began his career in the Tranmere Rovers youth system, and was a member of the Wales under-17 and under-19 teams.

He joined Tranmere’s reserve squad in 2007, and was loaned to Bangor City that September.

After being voted City’s player of the season, he joined them on a free transfer in April 2008.

Johnno remained with the club for eight seasons, winning three Welsh Cups and the Welsh Premier League championship in 2010–2011.

Has since played for Caernarfon Town, Llandudno, Brickfield Rangers and Bangor 1876.

16 Lee Jones (1997-2000)

Lee Jones and Andy Parkinson are in there as Prestatyn Town celebrate winning the Welsh Cup in 2012-13. Picture: Hollie Jones

Welsh international striker who Tranmere signed from Liverpool for £100,000 in June 1997 after he made an outstanding impression at Prenton Park whilst on loan at the end of the previous campaign, scoring five goals in eight games.

Went on to notch another 11 goals in 77 matches for Rovers, often being hampered by injury in his second stay.

Earlier in his career, he was in the Wrexham side which knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1992.

Liverpool signed him for £300,000 and he went on to make four substitute appearances for the Reds before loan spells at Crewe and Wrexham eventually led to a permanent transfer to Tranmere.

Further stops at Barnsley and Wrexham again followed before in 2004 he joined Caernarfon Town for two seasons, bagging 24 goals in 63 outings and having a spell as joint caretaker-manager.

Later joined Prestatyn Town, where he became part of the management team which experienced so much success.

17 Jon Kenworthy (1993-95)

Winger who spent two seasons at Tranmere, where he made 26 appearances and scored twice.

Had a spell on loan at Chester City before signing for Aberystwyth Town, then joining Connah’s Quay Nomads, where between 1997-2006 he established himself as a top Welsh Premier performer.

18 Josh Macauley (2008-10)

Beginning his career as a youth player at Tranmere Rovers, Macauley made his debut for the club on 24 January 2009 in a 1–1 draw with Carlisle United.

That was his only first-team outing, the forward going on to wear the colours of Colwyn Bay, Bala Town, Aberystwyth Town and Cefn Druids.

19 Ben Maher (2013-14)

Ben Maher (red) in action for Prestatyn. Picture: John Pickles (keen Tranmere follower!)

Spent a year at Tranmere before joining Prestatyn Town in 2014-15.

Quality midfielder who has also had stints in the Welsh Premier with Rhyl, Caernarfon Town and current club Flint Town United.

Won the Cymru North title with Prestatyn last season.

20 Andrew Mangan (2015-16 & 2016-18)

Natural goal scorer who never hit top form in two stays at Tranmere, partly down to injuries.

He played for Blackpool, Hyde, Accrington Stanley, Bury, Forest Green Rovers, Wrexham, Fleetwood Town, Luton Town and Shrewsbury Town before joining Tranmere.

The Liverpudlian impressed in the goal stakes during his first spell at Forest Green, as well as at Wrexham and Fleetwood.

On 17 June 2018, he joined Welsh Premier League side Bala Town.

Mangan made his debut for the club on 28 June 2018 in a 3–0 away Europa League preliminary round first leg defeat to S.P. Tre Fiori.

He left Bala without playing a league game for them after receiving an offer from Accrington.

21 Reg McGuire (1982-83)

Played as a forward for Tranmere Rovers in 1982-83, making just four appearances.

Was a Bangor City player between 1985-89 during the club’s Northern Premier League days.

Featured as a substitute in City’s European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign of 1985-86, coming on in both legs of the away goals victory over Fredrikstad of Norway and at the Vicente Calderon, where John Mahoney’s heroes were beaten just 1-0 by Spanish giants Atletico Madrid (3-0 on aggregate).

Larger-than-life character Reg later played for Southport, Stalybridge Celtic and Caernarfon Town.

22 Ken McKenna (1982-83 & 1987-88)

Ken McKenna pictured in 2015 when assistant-manager at Morecambe(Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

In two short spells with Tranmere, Birkenhead-born McKenna scored three goals in 20 matches.

He was far more prolific in the Welsh Premier, where he won the Golden Boot as a Conwy United player in 1995-96 with 38 goals and netted 127 in the league in all, also playing his trade with Bangor City and The New Saints.

Later won a host of trophies as TNS manager, including three successive titles between 2004-07.

McKenna was also part of the management team at Morecambe and AFC Fylde, leaving the latter in July 2020.

23 Lee Molyneux (2015)

Former Everton and Southampton winger/left back who was unable to establish himself in the first team at either club.

Was busier in spells at Accrington Stanley before in January 2015, Molyneux signed a contract with Micky Adams’s League Two side Tranmere Rovers on a contract lasting until the end of the 2014-15 season.

He played 11 games as Rovers were relegated out of the English Football League.

Super-fit Molyneux joined Bala Town last season.

24 Andy Moran (1998-99)

Striker who was released after a season at Tranmere, unable to break into the first team.

After spells at Derry City, Hereford United, Ards and Bamber Bridge, Moran joined Rhyl FC in 2001-02 and went on to establish himself as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer in the League of Wales with 99.

Later joined Fleetwood Town, then returned to the WPL where he represented Prestatyn Town and Airbus.

25 Alan Morgan (1992-2002)

Alan Morgan. Picture: Llandudno FC

Welsh-speaking midfielder/defender known for his combative style who featured in 78 first team matches for Tranmere in two stints between 1992-2002.

He was an unused substitute when Rovers reached the 2000 League Cup Final.

Spent time with Altrincham, Doncaster Rovers and Morecambe before beginning a long association with the Welsh Premier League in 2003-04.

Porthmadog, Cefn Druids, Rhyl FC and Connah’s Quay Nomads were his ports of call before joining Bangor City as Neville Powell’s assistant-manager in 2007.

Won two Welsh Cups with City before taking over at Aberystwyth Town.

In 2014-15, he led Llandudno to the Cymru Alliance title and into the Welsh Premier for the first time in their history. Tudno qualified for Europe at the end of their debut season.

Later took over at Colwyn Bay before becoming assistant to Neil Young at Marine in 2018.

Morgs has also managed at Druids (player-manager) and Nomads (assistant).

26 Callum Morris (2013-14)

Callum Morris. Pic: NCM Media

Long-serving star of the Connah’s Quay Nomads midfield was at Tranmere between 2013-14 before spending a season at Chester.

Set-piece and penalty specialist who has won the Cymru Premier League title, Welsh Cup and League Cup with the Quay under Andy Morrison as well as scoring a European winner.

27 Andy Parkinson (1996-2003)

Surely rates as one of Tranmere’s finest post-war players.

A former youth coach at Prenton Park, he is currently joint caretaker manager of Rovers’ first team alongside Ian Dawes.

As a player he was a forward, attacking midfielder and winger from 1997 to 2015.

He played for Tranmere between 1996-2003, featuring in the 2000 Football League Cup Final. Parky played in more than 200 competitive games for the Prentonians, knocking in 25 goals.

He went on to feature for Sheffield United, Notts County, Grimsby Town, Cambridge United, Gateshead and Accrington Stanley before finishing his career in the Welsh Premier League with spells at Aberystwyth Town and Prestatyn Town.

Parkinson won the Welsh Cup with Prestatyn in 2012-13 and played when Town won on their Europa League debut against Liepajas Metalurgs of Latvia.

28 Neville Powell (1981-84)

Played for Tranmere for three seasons when they were members of the old Football League Fourth Division between 1981-84.

He made a goalscoring debut for the club at the age of 17 in a match against Torquay United.

Nev played 86 matches for Rovers, scoring four goals, and was a highly respected left-sided midfielder.

He went on to spend eight years as a player with Bangor City, turning out in all four matches of their 1985-86 European Cup Winners’ Cup adventure against Fredrikstad and Atletico Madrid.

In 1993, he took over as player-manager of Connah’s Quay Nomads, keeping the Deesiders safely in the Welsh Premier for 14 years and winning the League Cup along the way.

In 2007, Nev returned to Bangor City as manager. He won the Welsh Cup three years in succession, as well as reaching five finals of the competition in six seasons, and led the Citizens to the Welsh Premier title in 2010-11.

Nev became the only person to win a European tie with Bangor as a player and manager when he was boss of the City side which eliminated FC Honka of Finland from the 2010-11 Europa League.

After leaving Bangor in 2016, he went on to manage Aberystwyth Town, guiding them to the 2017-18 Welsh Cup final.

29 Gary Taylor-Fletcher (2015-16)

The well-travelled striker had already played for Blackpool in the English Premier League, scoring their first-ever goal at that level in the 2010-11 season, before he signed for National League club Tranmere in October 2015.

He scored on his debut in a 2-0 victory over leaders Forest Green Rovers, but added just one more goal in a total of 21 league outings for Tranmere prior to joining Accrington Stanley on a one-year deal.

Former Leicester City and Huddersfield Town man GTF unexpectedly became caretaker player-manager of Bangor City in March 2017, stepping down to assistant when the club appointed Kevin Nicholson in May 2017.

The pair led the club to a second-placed finish in the Welsh Premier League during the 2017–18 season, but left Bangor in May 2018 after the club was demoted following failure to obtain a tier one license.

Taylor-Fletcher signed for Llandudno in November 2018 and scored twice on his debut in a 4–2 defeat to Bala Town.

On 27 November 2018, he returned to Bangor as manager and also played for the club in the Cymru Alliance.

In May 2019, Taylor-Fletcher was appointed manager of Llandudno. Two days later, he resigned due to business commitments.

30 Ray Woods (1982-85)

Ray Woods on a recent return to former club Caernarfon Town. Picture: Oval Ways blog

Winger who spent three years at Tranmere between 1982-85, making 14 first team appearances and scoring two goals.

Ray played for Caernarfon Town from 1985-87 and established himself as one of the club’s finest.

He was part of the Canaries squad which embarked on a famous FA Cup run in 1986-87, beating third division Stockport, third division York and drawing with second division Barnsley in the third round proper before losing in a replay.

Ray also had a stint with Bangor City and played league football for top division Coventry City, whose manager Terry Butcher signed him for £200,000, Shrewsbury Town and Wigan Athletic.

In my opinion, he is the greatest player I have seen play for Caernarfon Town alongside Nathan Craig and Darren Thomas.

And a bonus…..

Jay Gibbs

Jay Gibbs (seated) signs for Caernarfon Town with then manager Iwan Williams

Began his career with Holyhead, progressing through their youth system.

His performances for the junior sides soon secured him a move to Tranmere Rovers.

The emerging talent found himself signing a two-year scholarship and he became a regular in Shaun Garrett’s reserve side.

Jay also caught the eye of the Welsh selectors and he was capped at under-19 level, playing against Scotland and Ireland in 2010.

In December 2010 he decided to return to hometown club Hotspur.

Has since played for Caernarfon Town, Glantraeth, Llandudno, Porthmadog and Welsh Colleges. His latest move to Hotspur is the SIXTH time he has joined the club.

Jay was also a member of the 2019 Ynys Mon squad which won gold at the Inter-Island Games.

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