Cast your mind back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Tranmere's men's team were knocking on the door of the Premier League.

But the women’s team went one better and spent nine years competing in the top tier of English women’s football, producing international players and having cup runs that matched what the men were achieving.

If you look at the early history of the women’s team they achieved four promotions in five seasons to reach the Premier League, starting off in the North West Regional League back in 1990.

Tranmere were a big name in the women’s game, reaching the FA Cup semi finals twice and finishing as high as fifth in the Premier League.

Let’s jump in our time machines now and land in the present, 2021.

The women’s team was rebuilt ready for an attack at the fifth tier in the football pyramid. It’s always difficult when you have to build a team which needs a lot of recruitment.

Tranmere Women recently beat Salford City women 3-1. Photo Tony Coombes

Tranmere Women recently beat Salford City women 3-1. Photo Tony Coombes

There were players who stayed on from the Covid curtailed 2020/21 season, but new manager Marc Joyce needed to bring in new players, so along with his coaching staff he promoted four from the under 16s and brought in five from other clubs - all quality players - to improve this Tranmere team.

Joyce was signed as manager following a long coaching stint in South Carolina in the USA. His job initially was to try and bring these players together and create a togetherness, and instil in them the Tranmere way.

The experienced players were joined by a lot of new recruits. Lindsay Smith, Rachel Rigby and Marc’s assistant, Lynn Carter, have all been involved with the Tranmere set up for around 20 years.

I got the opportunity to speak with Marc during the week, to try and get a flavour for where this new Tranmere Women’s side was heading. I also got to speak to centre midfielder Rachel Unsworth, one of the most committed people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

She is the coach for the under 14s, is a member of the playing squad and has other coaching responsibilities outside of Tranmere too. Not only that, she travels in from Warrington each time.

Having had a busy day, Rachel walks in with a smile on her face that immediately gives me a good understanding of why this team have started the campaign so well.

In the short time I had with Rachel I got the impression she was full of confidence, and so she should be after Tranmere started the campaign with four wins out of four, scoring an incredible 20 goals, averaging five a game. Add into that a hard fought victory in the FA Cup too.

Rachel was playing for Warrington but approached Tranmere and made it impossible for them to say no, with her impressive CV.

I asked Rachel what she made of the start Tranmere had, her comment shocked me but also built up a little excitement for the future.

She said: “We are on a high at the moment, but we haven’t yet hit our peak.”

Tranmere Women in action against Salford City. Photo: Tony Coombes

Tranmere Women in action against Salford City. Photo: Tony Coombes

So in short, a Tranmere team who have averaged five goals a game still hadn’t moved into top gear. So what is top gear? How good can this team get?

Rachel backed up her comment by saying: “We should’ve scored more.”

If that is the case then we could be in for an exciting season.

Before Rachel went off to train in the gym with the rest of the team I asked her for a prediction for the season. “With how we’ve dominated games, I’m confident we will win the league if we continue with this form,” she added.

It’s a bold statement, but few could argue with that right now.

Marc Joyce then joined me, but before we spoke he took me to the gym.

My first impression was that despite this being almost a brand new squad, the team spirit was evident. It was as if they had known each other for a while. Each player had a smile on their face and were laughing together, and as a Tranmere fan myself I know that team spirit can add another level. I’ve seen it enough times with the men.

Tranmere Women are averaging five goals a game. Photo: Tony Coombes

Tranmere Women are averaging five goals a game. Photo: Tony Coombes

Marc joined back in April 2021 and because it was a new squad he arranged a pre-pre-season - a few games before the break just to try and build that togetherness.

It was key to get a good start but Marc has a very different view on the teams objectives. He isn’t talking about promotion, he isn’t talking about making Tranmere Women a big team once again.

He's talking about getting the women to fight for every ball and every point, but wants to relieve the team of pressure so they can play with more freedom.

He wants to create an environment that will attract new players to the team. It’s a challenge for Marc right now, he needs to recruit players from a higher level, and is convinced once he does that once, more will follow.

There is no pressure on this team this season. At the moment it’s a project and he just wants them to enjoy their football.

This approach seems to be having a profound effect on the team. They’re playing with a freedom that’s bringing in some very impressive results.

Another important message that Marc puts across to his players whilst they fight for every result, is to enjoy the now.

A run in the FA Cup should be celebrated each time they get a positive result. It’s experience and something they’ll need to get used to as they climb up the leagues. Because of the confidence in this team, who knows how far they could go in both the league and the cup.

Maybe there’ll be the opportunity to play a big FA Cup game at Prenton Park. Tranmere vs Man City sounds a bit tasty doesn’t it? Or what about Tranmere vs Liverpool, a game at the natural home of Tranmere but where Liverpool’s women’s team currently play.

Can this team go places? Despite there being no pressure on the team, Marc feels that promotion has to be the ultimate aim, to start mixing it with the bigger clubs.

Building awareness is also a massive. They need the backing of the SuperWhite Army (SWA) if they are to go places. How many of the SWA wouldn’t want to watch a team representing Tranmere score an average of five goals a game in the league?

Surely that has to be an attractive proposition.

Tranmere Women in action against Salford City. Photo: Tony Coombes

Tranmere Women in action against Salford City. Photo: Tony Coombes

The more supporters that go along and watch, the further this team can go. The fans are very important. If the attendances start to grow then they can attract further sponsorship. More money means Marc can build for the future.

Last Sunday (October 10), Tranmere played away at Cheadle in the league, a team who like Tranmere have started very well, with three wins out of three.

It was going to be a massive test of this newly assembled squad and it certainly turned out that way too.

You cannot win a league title on thrashings alone, they don’t come around that often and perhaps one could say the fixture list had been kind to Rovers.

What transpired was a display of those attributes which are needed, alongside scoring a hat full of goals.

0-1 behind, 1-2 behind and 2-4 down with just 10 minutes to go, starring down the barrel of defeat for the first time this season.

Did they crumble under the pressure, or did they show that genuine league leading spirit?

Well, the team showed their resilience, they showed their never say die attitude and pulled the game back to 4-4.

Tranmere Women in action against Salford City. Photo: Tony Coombes

Tranmere Women in action against Salford City. Photo: Tony Coombes

Yet another dramatic game for Rovers, eight goals in 90 minutes. One certainly good for the neutrals and one that shows Tranmere really do have what it takes to win a league title.

If you go away and meet another unbeaten team but you come away with a point, still leading the table and scoring for fun again, no one can complain. This team have it all and long may it continue.

So where can you watch the Tranmere Women’s team?

Currently they are playing at the Ellesmere Port Sports Village, usually on a Sunday at 2pm, meaning you can enjoy a complete Tranmere weekend.

The men's game at 3pm on Saturday, a few beers, a lie in, a cooked breakfast if you’re lucky, then off to support the women.

If you want to see goals, then this is the place to be. A new team playing like they’ve known each other for years.

Can Tranmere be a force in women’s football once again? Personally I don’t see why not. After speaking to Marc and Rachel, plus their result last weekend at Cheadle, I think there is a bright future for this group, and Marc’s attitude of ‘just go and enjoy yourselves’ is working a treat.