A year on from Tranmere's dramatic extra-time play-off victory over Newport County at Wembley, we take a look back at the incredible occasion through the prism of journalist and author Matt Jones' book, Riding the Rover Coaster.

Jake Caprice slides a pass down the line to Adam Buxton, who dips inside with a clever drop of the shoulder and finds Ben Pringle on the edge of the area.

The winger quickly gets the ball under control before returning possession to Caprice on the right, who looks up and whips a cross towards the back post.

The ball is met by Connor Jennings, lactic acid pumping through his body after 119 minutes of energy-sapping action, but he is able to thrust his head towards it, getting enough direction to direct past Joe Day in goal.

Wirral Globe: The team are awarded with the League Two Play Off Final trophy. Photo: Tony CoombesThe team are awarded with the League Two Play Off Final trophy. Photo: Tony Coombes

Twelve months ago today, that was the moment that saw Tranmere promoted back to League One, courtesy of a nail-biting 1-0 win over Newport in the play-off final at Wembley.

After a five year absence, they returned to English football’s third tier, completing a long and arduous journey that, in truth, was the rebirth of a previously crumbling club.

Prior to relegation in 2014, Rovers had been in decline for some time. They were leaking money left, right and centre. Having been in League One since 2001, the slide down looked inevitable.

The sweat, blood and tears that was put into restoring their status in the division is well documented.

“I could feel that the club was starting to go downhill,” comments club legend Shaun Garnett in Matt Jones’ book, Riding The Rover Coaster: The Inside Story Of Tranmere’s Turbulent Decade.

“I left the club in 1996 and they were still on that upward curve. The success we had under John King brought an atmosphere and belief to the club, and there was financial stability under Peter Johnson.

Wirral Globe: Tranmere fans at Wembley. Photo: Tony CoombesTranmere fans at Wembley. Photo: Tony Coombes

“When I came back in the mid-2000s, we were forever plugging holes. There was always the financial side to anything; the budget had been cut, we’d dropped out of the Championship and had a different owner.

“I think if I’m being brutally honest, there was definitely a different smell to the club.

“I had a lot more belief once we dropped into the National League. It was the making of the club, in a sense.”

The arrival of Mark and Nicola Palios as owners was just the tonic Tranmere needed. Although they could not prevent a further slip into Non League football in 2015, it did not take long for their labour to start bearing fruit.

The pair, experts in turning around failing businesses, analysed every single aspect of the club, on and off the field.

In Riding The Rover Coaster, Mark Palios explains: “You create a breathing space, extract the organic potential and then you can say ‘this isn’t a busted flush’ and people are prepared to invest money in it.

“What was quite strange, and people wouldn’t realise this unless they’re working in turnaround, but in turnaround, you tend to be industry agnostic. You’re more situation specific. You deal with the problems rather than a particular industry.

Wirral Globe: Scott Davis and Connor Jennings. Photo: Tony CoombesScott Davis and Connor Jennings. Photo: Tony Coombes

“But this was probably the one industry I knew from top to bottom with my background and of course I’ve completed my education over the last five years by actually having to run a lower league club.

”It took Tranmere three years to get out of the National League, with James Norwood scoring the goal that earned them a first promotion in nearly three decades as they beat Boreham Wood 2-1 in 2018.

Twelve months later, Micky Mellon’s side made it two in a row, leading to joyous scenes, both at Wembley and back on the Wirral.

“I’ve scored at Wembley before, but this felt miles better,” admits Jennings as he reflects on writing his name into Tranmere’s history books with that strike against Newport.

“I actually got cramp in the celebrations. They all jumped on me and we were on the advertising board.

“There’s this poor man on the other side of it and I don’t think you can see him on the TV footage, but he’s basically holding the board up! I’m facing him, face to face, and he’s like ‘get them off you’, I couldn’t!”

“After what had happened with my family over the past three weeks, this was special. It put a smile on their faces, along with all the other fans.”

Mellon too will now go down in Rovers folklaw. Only the great Johnny King has won more promotions as Tranmere boss than him - and he is not finished yet.

“I get a lot of enjoyment when I see Tranmere at Ipswich, or Rotherham, or Portsmouth, or when we’re at home and the ground’s full,” he admits.

Wirral Globe: Micky Mellon salutes the fans. Photo: Tony CoombesMicky Mellon salutes the fans. Photo: Tony Coombes

“I take satisfaction out of knowing that the fans can go out on a Friday night and say they’re going to watch Tranmere tomorrow and they’re playing Ipswich or Sunderland, instead of what they’ve had to say, with all due respect, in the past.

“I think that we’ve brought pride back. But I have to try and make us competitive all the time in order to keep moving it forward. Keep improving everything and try and get the best out of what we’ve got.”

Captain Scott Davies, part of the ride since 2015, adds: “Last season was 100% the greatest moment of my career. Getting promoted up to League One felt like the full circle of a journey that at one point I’d given up on.

“When the whistle went, I dropped to my knees and I’m in tears straight away. The year before, because we knew we should go up, it was a cry of relief. For this one, though, nobody believed we were that good. Nobody believed we were League One players.

“Everybody wrote us off four years ago. Now where are you? Where are the people from January who said what they said? That was my overriding emotion. Where’s everyone now?

“I’m a big believer that you find your level. To be able to come back from that and get to where I’ve come from gives me so much pride.”

As bumpy as the journey back to League One was, the 2019/20 season has been equally as tempestuous.

This week, Tranmere may well have their status in the third tier ripped away, as League One clubs decide on whether or not to continue the campaign following the coronavirus pandemic.

With points per game set be used should it not be possible to play the remaining fixtures, Rovers, inside the bottom three by just three points, would be relegated.

Given they have a game in hand on Wimbledon, the team directly above them in the table, who they were still to face, it would be a galling way to go down.

But one thing is for certain: they are in much better shape to bounce back from this storm than when they were relegated from the division in 2014.

Riding The Rover Coaster is available for £14 from author Matt Jones’ website, mattjones90.wordpress.com, or via Amazon, as his is other title, Back Where We Belong, which charts the club’s three years in the National League.