SATURDAY, May 25 2024 marks five years on from Tranmere’s famous back-to-back promotion winning victory at Wembley Stadium against Newport County. 

The club had been on one heck of a ride after they achieved promotion back to the Football League in 2018 but neither promotion may have been possible without the drive from the back in the form of ever present shot-stopper Scott Davies. 

Davies had been signed from Fleetwood Town in the summer of 2015, following Rovers’ relegation from the Football League and built a deep connection with Tranmere’s fan base through his good performances, fist pumping celebrations towards the Kop end and the clear affection that he held for the club.

This made it all the bit harder when the 37-year-old was forced into an early retirement, through injury, in 2022. 

In an exclusive interview, the Rovers legend looks back on that special day in 2019 as well as giving his view of the current squad and Tranmere's chances of emulating the achievements of 2019. 

“It was just like any other away game”

It has often been argued that the occasion got to the better of the players for the heavy 2017 National League Play-Off Final defeat against Forest Green. As a result, Rovers, faced any upcoming trips to what would come to be described as ‘Prenton Park South’ as just “any other away game”.

Davies remembers that hot May 2019 day very well as he recalled his morning: “I had coffee and went on a walk with Stokesy (physio, John Stokes) who is a massive Tranmere fan and one of my closest football friends. We spoke about life, it was no different to any other game. It was just business as usual. 

“In 2017 we hadn't been to a final together and maybe we got it wrong - we went down there, trained there and it was all about being at Wembley and not getting the job done but the next two years were different”.

“We were still flying at the end of the season”

Rovers ended the 2018-19 campaign having only won one of their last seven league games, losing narrowly at home to soon-to-be play-off rivals Forest Green before watching Bury clinch promotion on the Wirral. However, Davies believes that the team was “still flying”. 

He said: “I don’t think that you really need to look into the final games as we had secured the play-off place and the gaffer (Micky Mellon) said that he’d sit back and watch his machine roll as he admitted to having never felt so confident. 

“We were a proper team that had everything to win - we might not have had the best players but we were such a good team as we kept clean sheets and had a great goal scorer as well as players who worked so hard in between”.

Wirral Globe:

“I don’t think they (Forest Green) showed much class”

To get to Wembley, Rovers had to beat a side who they had previously found games tricky against as they were up against Mark Cooper’s 2017 play off final victors, Forest Green. 

“We had an indifferent record over the years against them, they were a team that knew how to win just like ourselves," said Davies.

“I wouldn’t say that it was a rivalry but I will say that I didn’t think they showed much class, especially their owner (Dale Vince).  

“We were expected to win as a bigger club, maybe. They rubbed their 2017 win in a bit to be honest and it was very satisfying to get our own back as anyone can win in a one off game but nine times out of ten the better team wins over two legs. 

“One of my lowest moments came in the defeat at Wembley to them, I cried on the pitch and it hurt for the whole summer after”. 

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man”

With the final against Newport County tight in its dying moments, the Steve McNulty substitution arguably changed the game as it allowed Rovers to push further up the pitch. 

However, not everyone was too happy when they saw the veteran ready himself for an appearance on the greatest stage as he had been out of action for quite some time. 

Davies said: It was very much 'cometh the hour, cometh the man'. The win and McNulty’s performance that day speaks volumes of him - he couldn’t kick the ball and he was very much out of the picture having not played for six months but the way he came on speaks volumes of the man and the player - he is the ultimate leader.

“I learnt a lot from him in regards to leadership. He is one of my best friends in football. 

“I agreed with the sub as we had been under the cosh for 30 minutes. There were a lot of balls coming into our box and I had to make a few saves, including one that I tipped on to the post which I would say is probably one of the best saves in my career.

“He (McNulty) said to me the day before that if we won he wouldn't pick up the trophy but I thought very differently to that, he was captain of the club and he was my captain. I would have let him lift the trophy on his own but he came to me at the end of the whistle and said 'let's do it together', it’s a memory that will stay with me for life. 

“It speaks volumes for Micky as some managers may not have made that change but McNulty made the impact that was needed and he deserved that final moment in a Tranmere shirt. 

Wirral Globe:

“He was a father figure to me”

Davies said he viewed then-Tranmere manager Micky Mellon as a “father figure” to him. “He had me from a boy to a man, from my early 20s, it speaks volumes of the man that he'd pick up the phone to me every week when I'd finished and try to help me, he was a bit of a father figure to me. 

“I shared my best moments in my career with him, nine years out of my career played under him, massive respect and gratitude for him, he gave me opportunities and trusted me”. 

“It couldn’t have happened to a better person”

It was Tranmere forward Connor Jennings that netted the winning goal under the Wembley arch in the 119th minute. Jennings was a man that had fought many battles to even take to the pitch and it was quite fitting that he netted the all important goal as he had assisted Norwood’s header the year before.

Davies spoke fondly of the match-winner.

He said: “On and off the pitch he’s a great guy so it couldn’t have happened to a better person, the year before he had fought off illness and he had lost his granddad before this final so for him to have this moment was special”. 

Davies added: “He was a player that we could have built the team around for a lot longer but I’m glad that he’s back now. Special player, special person, one of the best people”.

“The first promotion brought relief, the second promotion brought satisfaction”

On the terraces, it is sometimes debated which promotion was the best in terms of the feelings that they left with supporters. 

When Davies came to Tranmere in 2015, he did so leaving a club that was inside the Football League - Fleetwood Town.

He said: “Both of the promotion’s brought massive highs for different reasons, the first time round it was about getting the job done and I had great belief in the team but the promotion was arguably expected whereas in the second promotion the players finally got the recognition that they deserved.

“I left Fleetwood for Tranmere so I got myself, the team got themselves and the club got itself back to where we belong”.

“It was a special few days, I can’t remember the night out!”

One thing that isn’t up for debate is how special the following days were as the players jetted off for Magaluf trying to remember the night out that they had been on following the Wembley win.

Davies said: “It was a special few days, I can't remember the night out that night (laughs)! Then we went to Magaluf together. 

“It seems like yesterday, people say you can do whatever you want to in life but I know I'll never get those days back, they’re amazing memories and ones that I’ll take with me to the grave.

Wirral Globe: Scott Davies

“That team would have carried their success on"

Tranmere would go on to suffer a cruel demotion the following season as the season was curtailed and decided by PPG (Points Per Game) when Mellon’s men were starting to pick up points, having recruited well in January 2021 following the FA Cup ties against Watford and Manchester United. 

Davies said: "There was more life left in the team. When any team has success it rides a wave and that team would have done that, the success would have carried on. 

“Some may have been found out and you do need to recruit as football stands still for no-one but if I was to have one regret from football it would be that the team didn't stay together for another season or two as maybe the 2019-20 season would have looked a bit different”.

 "On the whole, it's hard to pin-point why we didn't start that season as well. In the end, we did get results and we should have stayed up. The team without a doubt would have stayed up as we knew how to win games, having won three on the spin my belief in us staying up will never change.

“We went to war together for four or five years - soldiers will tell you the same - you’re bonded together for life”

Davies remains in contact with members of the successful Rovers team, in fact he was seen with McNulty and others at last week’s charity match at Ashville, organised by Rovers fan Adam Siddorn in the memory of Kieran Nye.

Davies explained how in football everyone goes off into all different walks of life but that the team all remain in contact. 

He said: “I am the closest with McNulty but I speak to them all. It was a special group, a group that was together for such a long period of time, it's nice that we all still talk - we went to war together for 4/5yrs and soldiers will tell you the same - you're bonded together for life.

“When I went through my struggles, (after being forced into retiring from football through injury), I can't tell you the amount of players who got in touch - they’re bonds that you can't break."

Wirral Globe:

“Do I want to end up coaching there? Of course I do, I think it’s inevitable!”

Davies is currently back at Fleetwood Town, working in their academy as a goalkeeping coach.

He said: “The team is competing very well against Championship and Premier League clubs every week, developing our own players and we have a very high number of those getting through to the first team as well as having players who are representing England so I’m very happy with it”. 

However, Davies believes that a move back to Tranmere is “inevitable".

He said: “Tranmere is a part of my life. Do I want to end up coaching there? Of course, I think it's inevitable. The club is a part of my life, when I go to games and hear the fans sing my name it makes me feel emotional”. 

“I'm sure the good times will return”

Despite Tranmere’s current struggles on the pitch, with the strong guidance of manager Nigel Adkins, Davies is “sure that the good times will return again”. 

He added: “Adkins is a good manager so hopefully he can steady the ship and Tranmere will be successful because it’s too big not to be successful again”. 

“(Goalkeeper) Luke (McGee) is very good, Joe (Murphy) is coming to the end but still hanging on and training every day - he was good with me, he’s a top fella. 

“Hopefully one or two additions in the summer the club can kick on as Nigel has built a team that has bought in to what he wants, a team that tries and has picked up results”.