by Matt Sudlow
When I was elected Sport Editor last spring, I made myself two promises. Firstly, I would not make too much of an embarrassment of myself; and secondly, to not turn the section, no matter how hard and tempting it may be, into a Tranmere Rovers fanzine. The first promise may have been broken after that very first event, offering monetary bribes (and more) in exchange for people signing up for the section at the Welcome Fair. And I do recall, amongst the fuzzy memories, somehow birthing a balloon child, named Nikolaj.
However, for the latter, I have kept strong! As far as I know, there has not been one mention of Tranmere Rovers in The Beaver this year. Yes, there may have been a news piece on one of the star signings, but who reads Frontside?
As my term comes to an end, I’m faced with the task of writing a soppy, sentimental signing-off article. The type that’s kind of expected of us, but again, nobody reads! So, in other words, my perfect opportunity to rant and rave about the Super White Army (Tranmere’s nickname, not an offshoot of the Klan), and exactly why they should be your English team!
It is a rite of passage for football fans around the globe to choose a team to follow. It hurts just to type that, but it’s what happens. For the vast majority of people, that ends up being a Super League team. A Real Madrid, a Manchester United, a Liverpool. And who would blame them? They’re the most historically successful clubs. They’re the richest clubs, with the best players in the world. They’re the clubs with the greatest worldwide reach and social media networks. It’s certainly very easy to plod along in life, streaming matches from the other side of the world, celebrating victories for a fleeting second between your shower and breakfast.
However, being a Manchester United or Liverpool fan is a bit like having a celebrity crush. No matter how many fan accounts you make, how much merch you buy, or shows you furiously watch, you don’t really get anything back. Well, maybe a restraining order (fuck you, [REDACTED BY LIBEL CHECKER]), but most of the time, nothing! They don’t know that you even exist. If you’re a Manchester United fan, you’re one of 168.5 million worldwide. This just can’t be satisfying!
And this is where Tranmere Rovers come in. Tranmere is my childhood sweetheart. And they should be yours too. Since going to that first match vs Nottingham Forest on a bright September afternoon in 2006, more-or-less every single thought of mine has involved the team.
They’ve become the lower-league club every fan knows, largely thanks to high-profile FA Cup ties against top six opposition, and number one fan, cult hero Premier League referee Mike Dean. Just look at that famous video of him celebrating the play-off victory against Forest Green to see what Tranmere means to every single supporter. You live through the club, and the club lives through you. It simply couldn’t exist without each individual fan.
Their players aren’t millionaires, completely separated from normal life. They’re family, friends, integrated into the community. Every single individual involved in the club, from fans to the players and owners, rally around incredible individuals and causes, for example Nate Gidman. The club and the SWA, although sometimes rather disfunctional, are a family. And by god do you feel part of it! Even living in London and unable to go to that many matches, you are made to feel like the club loves you just as much as the reverse.
Currently, they’re in a multi-team battle for promotion from League Two – a lot more exciting than the monotonous inevitability of Manchester City winning the Premier League and Norwich going down. So watch a match! They’re pretty easy to find online: on Easter Monday they play Exeter in a real end-of-season six pointer, and fall in love just like I did all those years ago.
Just a final note. When I made the decision on a total whim last March to run for Sport Editor, having had nothing to do with The Beaver before, I never could have dreamed just how fucking incredible the experience would’ve been. Looking at just how much the section has evolved from the desperate scramble for content for the first issue, to the desperate scramble for content for this final issue, I’m genuinely filled with so much pride. I really cannot wait to see how the section develops next year under Suryaansh, who I’m certain will do a pretty great job!
None of this would have been possible without our little Beaver team. Thank you so much to Beatriz, for being super patient and helping me develop so much as an editor, to Vaneeza for helping bring to life my weirdly specific illustration ideas, to Sofia Gerace for the support with the section, to Gustav for being such a hot piece of ass, and of course to our contributors, Sachin and Sofia Lammali especially, who deserve to have their names on the section way more than I do. And shout-out to Dillon for his sunny disposition.
And me? It’s not time to grab the Kleenex just yet, for whatever reason. I’ll be making the long, arduous trip over the page to Social (aka The Sudlow Section). So for features such as LStEa, Sudlow’s Soapbox, and LSE Conspiracy Corner, I will see you next year! And of course, get in touch if you have any ideas or would like to contribute in any way. Shoot me a message on Slack or any assorted social media platform.