Address: Prenton Road West,
Capacity: 16,587 (All-Seater)
Five or so miles away on the other side of the River Mersey are two of the most well-known stadiums in Europe.
Prenton Park however is another Merseyside football ground that is as impressive in areas and deserves a similar amount of attention, particularly for the passionate fanbase that turn out in numbers for every game there.
Opened in 1912, Prenton Park has been the home of Tranmere Rovers every since.
The club had formed in 1884 and initially played matches at Steeles Field in Birkenhead, moving to a site bought from Tranmere Rugby Club in 1887.
The name “Prenton Park” was adopted eight years later as a result of a suggestion in the letters page of the Football Echo.
Tranmere were later forced to move out after the land was required for housing and a school, but the present Prenton Park was built on new land and opened on 9th March 1912 by the Mayor of Birkenhead, Councillor George Proudman.
Since 2009, the stadium has also played host to some Liverpool Reserve Team matches and since 2018 it has been the home stadium for the Liverpool Women's’ Team.
Location and Title
Prenton Park is not strictly based within Prenton, though the decision was made to name the ground after that area as it was seen as more upmarket than nearby Tranmere at the time.
It is based around 1.5 miles southwest of Birkenhead Town Centre. Mersey Park and Victoria Park off Bebington Road are to the east of the stadium and continuing on from there eventually brings you to the River Mersey. Duck Pond Lane Park is over to the west and Birkenhead Park is to the north.
There’s an abundance of streets around Prenton Park which you can find free parking on, but make sure you are careful not to block residents' drives or park on a road with restriction notices in place.
It should not be too much of an issue though and when I’ve come to Prenton Park by car I’ve headed east towards Duck Pond Lane Park to find space.
There is also an abundance of railway stations that travelling fans can pick from on a matchday and they are all based on the same Merseyrail line.
Birkenhead Central is close to the Town Centre and it takes around 30 minutes to walk south to the stadium from there.
Green Lane is a more commonly used option and is around 25 minutes walk away.
I’ve personally used Rock Ferry station when coming to Prenton Park by rail, it is a similar distance away from the ground as Green Lane is, though the route does force you to climb up some very steep streets.
If you are coming to Prenton Park from Liverpool Lime Street Station, you can take the Merseyrail Yellow Line from either there or nearby Liverpool Central.
The route takes you underneath the River Mersey, through Birkenhead and then down past the aforementioned stations.
Outside the Stadium
Most fans will first approach Prenton Park at its northeast corner and continuing along down Borough Road brings you to the East Stand.
Formerly known as the Borough Road Stand, it was renamed the Johnny King Stand in 2002.
Born in Marylebone on 15th April 1938, King first joined Tranmere in 1960 and won promotion from the old Fourth Division (now League Two) once as a player and twice as a manager. He would also guide Tranmere to back-to-back finals of the Associate Member’s Cup (now the EFL Trophy), winning the tournament in 1990, and lead the team to promotion from the old Third Division (now League One) via the Play-Offs in 1991.
Regarded as the club's greatest ever manager, Johnny King passed away on 30th March 2016 at the age of 77.
The Johnny King Stand is the smallest of the four at Prenton Park and has a very simple design, with the bottom half made up of brickwork and the top half made up of blue corrugated iron.
There are exit doors regularly placed along the base of the stand but the turnstiles leading inside are based away from it in the southeast corner.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the Bebington Kop, more simply referred to as the Kop. It is the tallest stand at Prenton Park and completely towers over the Johnny King Stand next to it.
The stand has a brickwork base but is mostly made of the same blue corrugated iron that is present on the Johnny King Stand.
The Tranmere Recreation Centre is right outside the back of the Kop and so you have to walk around this to get from the east side of Prenton Park to the west. Additionally, this means that the turnstiles into the Kop are based on either side in both the southeast and southwest corners of the stadium.
The West Stand is the Main Stand at Prenton Park. It is not quite as tall as the adjacent Kop, but since it runs along the length of the pitch it is the largest of the four in terms of capacity.
Part of the stand’s base is brickwork but most of the exterior is made up of the same blue corrugated iron that is present on the Johnny King Stand and the Kop. Prenton Park’s Main Reception, as well as entrances to the Main Ticket Office and Club Shop, are based towards the centre of the stand, with Executive Lounge and Suite Entrances either side of here.
Turnstiles into the Main Stand’s upper section are at either end of the outer wall, with turnstiles for the lower-down paddock based next to the southeast corner, and also in the southwest corner off Prenton Road West.
A large tent outside of the Main Stand’s exterior holds the Tranmere Rovers Fan Zone and Woodchurch Lane behind that leads to the Main Car Park.
On the corner between Prenton Road West and Woodchurch Lane is a large statue of Johnny King.
The West Stand is better known as the Cowshed.
It’s outer wall runs right alongside Prenton Road West and has a large brickwork base with blue corrugated iron in its upper parts.
Much like the adjacent Johnny King Stand, there are only blue exit doors spread out across the Cowshed’s outer walls and the turnstiles inside can be found on the stadium’s northwest corner between Prenton Road West and Borough Road.
There is a large sign in place next to the northwest turnstiles that details Tranmere Rovers upcoming games, including the dates that they take place on.
Inside the Stadium
The Johnny King Stand consists of a single tier of blue seating.
It has a very simple interior design with the only noteworthy feature here being the small gap between the seating blocks at the back of the stand, into which the matchday camera is placed.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view of the pitch from anywhere inside is perfectly clear, whilst a combination of windshields and brick walls are in place to give every row of seats a good level of protection from the sides.
The Kop is the most impressive part of Prenton Park’s interior.
It is split into two tiers of blue seating with the lower tier slightly larger than the upper tier. A metal fence is in place which separates the two levels from one another. The letters TRANMERE are spelt out in white across the upper tier blocks with the letters ROVERS spelt out in white across the lower tier blocks.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so you can have a fantastic view of the pitch from inside the Kop, although the maze of bars on the ceiling may restrict your view slightly if you are sat right at the very back.
Giant windshields cover both sides of the stand and protect all but the very front rows of the lower tier. There are small brick walls in place down here to provide protection for those sat at either end.
Tranmere’s most vocal and passionate fans are based in the Kop during a game and when this stand is completely full of fans, it can make for an impressive sight.
The Main Stand is also divided into two tiers, although here the upper tier is larger than the lower tier. A small blue wall separates the two levels from one another.
Most of the lower tier seats are blue except for in the central blocks where the letters TRFC are spelt out in white.
The upper tier blocks however come in a much greater mix of colours. Most are still blue, but the outermost ones are coloured yellow, with one executive seating block coloured red and the directors box coloured white.
Tranmere’s changing rooms are based inside the Main Stand with the dugouts and tunnel down the very front.
Your view from anywhere inside the Main Stand’s lower tier is perfectly clear, but there are two large pillars which come down at the front of the upper tier, and they get in your way slightly if you are sat towards the back of any block. Additionally, a row of bars runs all the way across the stand’s ceiling and it can restrict your view slightly if you are sat right at the very back of the upper tier.
Large windshields cover every row in the top tier but none of the lower tier seats; there are just small blue fences in place here to protect fans from the sides.
Elevated above ground in the southwest corner is the stadium control box and media suite.
The Cowshed is a single tier of blue seating. It is certainly not small in size but seems tiny when compared to the Kop at the opposite end of the pitch.
The back row is further up on one side of the stand compared to the other, and you can clearly see the back row gradually get further and further back if you are sat in any other part of Prenton Park.
An electronic scoreboard attached to the roof can be seen by all except for those sat in the Cowshed.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view from anywhere inside is very clear, whilst large windshields cover most of the rows at either end, with small brick walls in place to offer protection for those sat down towards the front.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Cowshed.
Small crowds are kept in the block next to the northwest corner, with large sheets used to stop fans sitting in seats further along.
The larger the crowd, the more blocks become available, and it means that Tranmere can easily accommodate both big and small away followings.
Prenton Park at full capacity can prove a very entertaining occasion as you have the capacity away crowd in the Cowshed trying to outsing the much larger Kop opposite.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Tranmere Rovers Fan Zone outside the Main Stand (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Birch Tree (17 Prenton Road West, CH42 9PY) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located just outside the Main Stand and the Tranmere Rovers Fan Zone)
-The Cock and Pullet (Royal Hotel, 100 Woodchurch Road, CH42 9LP) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Prenton Park Hotel (796 Borough Road, CH42 9JG) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located opposite the Cowshed)
-The Sportsman's Arms (9 Prenton Road East, CH42 7LQ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
Prenton Park is a really underrated football ground.
There’s a nice consistency to its exterior, even if doesn't have a very-modern looking design, but it's inside that the ground really deserves praise. The Kop is a fantastic stand and the vocal crowd inside there help to make matchdays a really enjoyable experience.
Away fans are kept in a good quality stand as well which can easily handle both small and large followings.
We all have our preferences on what makes a great stadium, but you can guarantee that there will be something about Prenton Park that you really like.
This has simply got to be one of the grounds on your football bucket list.