Tranmere legend Higgins aiming for another Trip to the Moon

It is over two decades since the late, great, Johnny King took Tranmere on “a trip to the moon”.

With the aid of Peter Johnson’s financial clout, the Rovers boss guided his loyal troops to Wembley on five occasions as they marched from Division Four to Division Two and the brink of the newly created Premier League.

Their swashbuckling style was the envy of teams up and down the land. Prenton Park became a fortress. This was a side everybody feared.

Much has changed since “Kingy” left in 1996. All of his good work was undone with three relegations in 14 years.

The next eight days though provide Micky Mellon’s side with a chance to start the rebuilding work.
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A play-off semi-final second leg against Aldershot, followed by the reward of a return trip to Wembley, is the perfect launchpad.

And one of King’s most trusted soldiers, popular defender Dave Higgins, reckons a second Rovers Rocket is destined for the stars.

“This is a massive game,” he said. “It’s all about nerves and keeping your cool.

“We’re on a good run at the moment. We’ve been winning games. It’s good to take that into the play-offs.

“They want to get back in the Football League and do what other teams have done.

“We were in the same league as Bournemouth and Leicester. Look at them now; they’re in the Premier League

“Who knows what could happen if they get back up? They’ve got the manager, they’ve got the chairman, they’ve got everything in place. It’s just getting out of this division, which is very difficult.

“It’s all about momentum. Teams like Stevenage and Fleetwood have gone up, and then gone up again.

“You get more people coming to watch you, more season ticket holders, advertisement and money.

“All of a sudden because of the momentum, you’re up in the play-offs in the next league.

“In two years, we could be nearly in the Championship. That’s how quick it could turn around.”

A towering central defender, ever determined not to be beaten, Higgins enjoyed two spells as a player on the Wirral, making nearly 350 league appearances.

He was part of the side that tasted play-off success at Wembley in 1991, beating Bolton 1-0 in the final.

The semis were just as tough; a 2-2 draw against Brentford in the first leg setting up a slender victory in the second, Ged Brannan scoring the only goal.

Higgins is now a regular at Prenton Park and has seen first hand how Micky Mellon has helped transform the club’s promotion ambitions since arriving in October..

“I don’t really remember our successful play-off run in 1991,” he continued. “It goes so quickly!

“But we got a 2-2 draw and we were happy with that. It’s important you get something out of the away game.

“We came back and thought ‘we’ve done a good job but it isn’t finished.’

“What I do remember is there were mistakes galore, myself included.

“It’s what happens when the pressure is on you. You’ve got to try and put that to the back of your mind.

“That’s how you get to where you want to be.

“Just concentrate on these games and they’ll be okay. They’ve got the squad, they’ve got the players. The’ve got people on the bench who can change games.

“You’ve just got to go into it as confident as you can be. Do the job that you’re given by the manager and stick to it and you won’t be far off it.”

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