By Joel Lampkin
A decade at one club is rare feat in football. However, John Aldridge cemented his name in Tranmere Rovers history through that very accomplishment.
On July 11th 1991, The Super Whites bagged a bargain when the Republic of Ireland international swapped the sunny shores of Spain and Real Sociedad for a return to Merseyside, only this time donning a white shirt.
With Tranmere on the rise, the opportunity to uplift a club to the the elite tier of English football was a challenge the then 32-year-old could not turn down.
Family and the positive plan in place at Rovers were key to the forward making the switch back to the North West as Aldridge became a symbol of a new era with the late, great Johnny King at the helm.
“It [San Sebastian] was a lovely place but I just could not settle. I had to do it for my family.
“Peter Johnson sold me the club. The selling points were there; manager Johnny King, where the club wanted to go, and Peter had money, Prenton Park was being redeveloped, so I thought, yeah, it would be nice to try and get back into the Premier League.”
With a number of quality teammates at his disposal, Aldridge took full advantage, and with his experience, he scored 40 goals in his debut season.
His time at Prenton Park enabled the striker to reach a height not bettered in the post-war era of English football, bagging 476 goals in 889 appearances.
He said: “I had good players around me, Johnny Morrissey, Pat Nevin, some really good midfield players. Up front, Chris Malkin was helping me, so I got loads of chances.
“When I got the chances there, and the reason that I got 40, was that I knew in my experience to make sure I made it count.”
Aldridge enjoyed his football at Tranmere, hailing the ‘excitement' that his manager was able to provide, as he looked forward to every fixture.
“I did get quite a few hat-tricks and things, it was a really good team, a really exciting team, and that is what I loved, attacking football. The way Johnny King wanted to play, it was attacking.”
With his playing days coming to an end, then Rovers chairman Frank Corfe felt the club needed a change in manager and viewed Aldridge as the perfect replacement for King.
Despite being hesitant at undermining the current man in charge, Aldridge eventually took the job offer with King made the new Director of football, starting a new chapter in Tranmere's and his own personal football career.
“The chairman, asked me would I take the job? I said ‘well, Johnny King is the manager'.
“He said ‘you can have it', but I replied by saying ‘it's not fair, you have to tell Johnny first'.
“So we had a chat and whatever, he told Johnny, and then I took the job.”
Aldridge began as player-manager before hanging his boots up in the summer of 1998, after scoring twice against Wolves in his final appearance at Prenton Park.
The highlight of his spell in charge was guiding the side to the Worthington Cup Final in 2000 and leading the team out at Wembley Stadium against Leicester City.
'Aldo' also oversaw a number of cup giant-killings during his time as manager, including the famous 3-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park in 2001, a game now remembered by the Super White Army as ‘St Yates Day' after defender Steve Yates netted two goals in a 3-0 victory.
His managerial record at Prenton Park reads 269 matches, 93 victories, 78 draws and 98 defeats before he left the club in March 2001.
A decade full of great memories.
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