THE successful return of Friday night football to Prenton Park earlier this month revived a tradition that has been associated with Tranmere Rovers for almost 60 years.

Matches played under the floodlights on a Friday evening became synonymous with the Johnny King era throughout the 1980s and 1990s as the legendary manager took the Super Whites on their much-fabled “trip to the moon”.

The innovation was even immortalised in song by Wirral band Half Man Half Biscuit on their 1995 song Friday Night And The Gates Are Low.

But although those floodlit nights will always be associated with Johnny Morrissey and Pat Nevin crossing the ball for John Aldridge to score, the idea of hosting games on a Friday night was first mooted back in the early 1960s by manager Dave Russell.

It was back in 1958 that floodlights were first installed at Prenton Park at a cost of £15,000, which was raised by the supporters’ association.Three years later Russell arrived at Tranmere as manager from Bury FC, with the Scot having something of a reputation as an innovator who thought outside the box.

Born in Dundee, Scotland, on April 7, 1914, Russell played for his hometown club before joining East Fife.Winning the Scottish Cup in 1938, Russell played 92 games for The Fifers before joining Sheffield Wednesday for the next season, where he was an ever-present as the club finished third in Division Two.

As it did with so many players, World War II hampered Russell's career and after a stint in the RAF, Russell became a coach for the Danish FA.

Russell managed the Danish side at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, masterminding victories over Egypt and Italy en route to third-place finish. Denmark beat Great Britain 5-3 in the bronze medal match before 50,000 at Wembley, a major coup for Russell.

Credited with revolutionising Danish football, Russell returned to England to manage Bury, kick starting a managerial career that lasted almost 20 seasons.

On arrival at Prenton Park, Russell immediately set about changing Rovers’ kit from blue to white in an effort to distinguish them from nearby Everton and developed a new crest for the club.

In a further move Russell played a leading role in the development of Friday night football at Prenton Park, with the idea that Tranmere would play their home games on a Friday evening in the hope of attracting fans of Liverpool and Everton, who typically played on Saturdays.

Russell’s first home match in charge took place on a Friday night with a 3-1 win over Southport in January 1962 suggesting the manager was on to a good thing.

Russell would stay on as Rovers’ manager until 1968 when he moved upstairs to become general manager. He left the club in 1978 but stayed in the Wirral area until he passed away in June 2000, aged 86.

If you have any special memories of Friday night football email: