By Ryan Ferguson
About fourteen months ago, an idea popped into my head. I was tired of the mainstream media covering Tranmere Rovers in such a lazy manner. To many editors, my beloved club was an afterthought, something that didn’t really matter, the annoying little brother of Liverpool and Everton. But when this club runs through your veins, a different tale reveals itself. The truth, if you will. Tranmere Rovers has a fascinating history and a proud tradition all of its own. I was determined to make it heard.
First of all, I began making notes. Fresh ideas flowed from my pen. I wanted to reawaken the enchanting heritage of our grand club, but do so in a modern context. That meant social media. And a website. Perhaps even some kind of e-magazine. I finally settled on a concept extending from a central Twitter account to begin with. It would be called Planet Prentonia, echoing the individualistic nature of our far-flung fanbase.
I tinkered with graphics and logos and bios before setting up the account. On 8th December 2015, my project went live. This was the tweet that signalled a new dawn in the chronicling of Tranmere Rovers:
— Ryan Ferguson (@RyanFergusonHQ) December 8, 2015
As you’re probably aware, that was exactly a year ago today. During that time, I’ve been on a phenomenal journey in the crusade to earn fair coverage for our football club. I had a vision and a plan to execute it, but there was no way to calculate just how receptive people would be to Planet Prentonia.
I knew that, in order for people to take it seriously and show support, the content had to be top quality. There had to be substance and style to it. A bit of understated swagger, befitting the Tranmere Rovers identity. At first, I dug up old, unloved photographs and shared them. I tried to analyse games and news with a discerning eye, but not in the misinformed, clichéd manner of traditional outlets. After all, I’m one of you. Not some Everton or Liverpool fan forced to visit Prenton Park and report on the game through a distorted prism.
After building a fairly solid following, I launched this website in February. A Facebook page followed in June. Instagram came in October. I began producing articles on the club’s past, present and future, illuminating proud stories that were overlooked for so long.
I wrote about Tranmere being the only major English club with Norse-Viking origins. I wrote about Tranmere being the first English club to have American owners. I wrote about Tranmere being the first Merseyside club to employ a black player, and Tranmere unearthing legendary stars like Dixie Dean and Pongo Waring. I even discovered that Rovers are the only club in at least the top five divisions of English football to have exactly three lions on their shirt!
This is exactly what I had in mind. All these stories and quirks have been there for decades, waiting to be loved. Few people have bothered to nurture them, polish them and shown them off proudly. That’s what I try to do. Certain people have done a fine job covering Tranmere Rovers. Nick Hilton springs to mind. It was therefore a pleasure when Nick reached out to me and helped get some of my articles published by the Liverpool Echo. Progress was being made.
My love of researching and writing about Tranmere grew by the day. There’s a fine morality and honesty to the club’s history. The passion people have for Rovers far outstrips where the club currently lies in the pyramid, and it’s great to tap into the nostalgia many people harbour for this grand old dame beside the Mersey. Your support of this endeavour has been sensational. We have over 1,700 followers across all social media platforms, and more than a hundred people subscribe to the website for free. I can’t thank you enough.
But there’s something buried deeper in our movement that cannot be measured in numbers. When the club owner promotes your articles, that’s brilliant. When the parents and friends of current players message you to say thanks for writing a piece, that’s special. When club legends follow you and help spread the word, it’s difficult to describe the pride.
I’ve had people send photos of Planet Prentonia stickers around the world, in places like Stockholm and Prague, Reykjavik and Istanbul, Belfast and, yes, Solihull. That’s unbelievable.
We’ve had support from famous Tranmere fans and the greatest historians ever to write about the club. We’ve had messages from Viktoria Berlin, the first European club to play at Prenton Park, and FC Eindhoven, with whom there is a growing friendship. We’ve even had praise from the daughter of Jim Rockford (well, James Garner) for this piece on how the eponymous theme tune became a Rovers anthem.
To be honest, I’m humbled by every tweet from every proud Tranmere fan. It’s fantastic that people seem to enjoy what I’m creating here. To have people approach me at matches and shake my hand is astonishing. I’m just a normal lad from a council estate with a love for Tranmere Rovers and a hunger to see its story shared accurately and passionately. Everything else, in terms of your support, is just terrific.
Make no mistake. This is just the beginning for Planet Prentonia. I have a lot of ideas for expansion, and you’ll begin to see them as we roll into a new year. If you would like to help, please consider donating to our GoFundMe campaign. This is still largely a hobby for me, and to further enhance the productivity of Planet Prentonia, equipment upgrades and the like will soon be required. Having you merely visit the website is a privilege in itself, but all views of and contributions to the funding drive are also greatly appreciated.
In the year to come, there should be plenty to write about. Rovers sit atop the National League with intelligent owners, a proven manager, a quality squad and a mobilised fanbase. We’re all set for a monumental fight to the finish. I can see an exciting future to write about, in addition to the heart-warming past.
As the Deadly Submarine roars back to life, keep it locked to Planet Prentonia, your home for quality Tranmere Rovers coverage. It’s quality, not clichés.