Tranmere Rovers 2-1 Boreham Wood, 2018 National League play-off final: Where are they now?
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Tranmere Rovers players celebrate victory with the trophy after the Vanarama National League Play Off Final between Boreham Wood and Tranmere Rovers at Wembley Stadium on May 12, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Tranmere Rovers’ return to the Football League came in 2018, after defeating Boreham Wood 2-1 in an enthralling encounter at Wembley.

The games first flashpoint came inside the opening 30 seconds, when Rovers man Liam Ridehalgh was sent for an early shower following a crunching tackle. 

Andy Cook put Rovers ahead after six minutes before they were forced into three first half substitutions to balance out play and to replace the injured Richie Sutton.

Bruno Andrade levelled for Wood in much controversy, with the Rovers contingency inside Wembley incandescent with the match referee for allowing time to go past stoppage time. 

With 10 minutes remaining, the ever popular James Norwood glanced a header past Wood keeper Grant Smith as Rovers returned to League Two.

Here is that side that started the play-off final, and where they are now.

  • Scott Davies - retired

A stalwart in the Rovers side, Scott Davies was the starting goalkeeper in the play-off final.

Davies signed for Tranmere in 2015 following a departure from Fleetwood Town, and slotted straight in as he arrived in Rovers’ first season of National League football.

He started in the play-off final heartbreak one year earlier to Forest Green Rovers, but his side made amends the year later.

Davies stayed on after they play-off final and stared again a year later at Wembley, when Tranmere won the League Two play-off final against Newport County. 

Davies announced his retirement from professional football last year.

  • Manny Monthe - Walsall

Manny Monthe started at right-back as Tranmere achieved promotion and began ahead of fellow right-back Adam Buxton.

He signed for Tranmere in that season from Forest Green, and he was part of the Vegans side that beat Rovers at Wembley the year before. 

He played the full 90 minutes, keeping the left side of Boreham Wood relatively quiet but was unable to thwart the cross that led to Andrade’s equaliser. 

Monthe stayed on at Tranmere, being part of the play-off winning squad the year later and featured in the League One campaign, in which Rovers were relegated on points-per-game. 

He’s now at Walsall, and started the fixture on Saturday against Tranmere, seeing red after scything down Kane Hemmings. 

  • Steve McNulty - Bootle

Another stalwart under Micky Mellon, Steve McNulty started the play-off final as skipper of the side, leading them to play-off glory and beyond. 

McNulty was a heartbeat of the Rovers defence after his arrival from Luton Town in 2015, with his first spell a loan one. 

He arrived permanently six months later, as he wanted to be closer to his family. He became skipper and lifted the trophy with pride high above his head as the captain who led Tranmere back to the Football League. 

He stayed on for an extra year, making a cameo appearance off the bench against Newport County in the League Two play-off final after barely appearing for six months, before he was released at the end of the season.

McNulty joined up with Steve Watson at York City, appearing 26 times and he was part of the team who made it to the play-offs, but the Ministermen were beaten by Altrincham, before McNulty joined Witton Albion as a player-coach, linking up with old football counterpart Carl McAuley.

He moved onto Chester in 2021, reuniting with Steve Watson although he was heavily linked with the Bootle job until Brian Richardson was appointed. 

As of August 2022, he is the manager of Bootle, and after a tough beginning, his Bucks side sit a few places and points outside of the Northern Premier League Division One West play-offs, with a standout moment beating Macclesfield 2-1 away from home. 

  • Richie Sutton - Nantwich Town

Brought in by Gary Brabin after relegation from the Football League, Richie Sutton partnered Steve McNulty at Wembley, but was forced off injured in the first half. 

Sutton heavily featured for Rovers alongside McNulty, forming the back bone of Tranmere’s defence. 

He missed out on key parts of his first two Tranmere seasons. In his first, he lost his place to Steve McNulty and Michael Ihiekwe, before picking up an Achilles injury in his second.

After Tranmere, he signed for Morecambe under Jim Bentley, before moving onto Altrincham, Alfreton Town (loan) and now works as a player and joint-manager with Gary Taylor-Fletcher at Nantwich Town.

  • Liam Ridehalgh - Bradford City

Ridehalgh played a key part in Tranmere’s venture to Wembley, he didn’t on the big occasion though, seeing red inside the opening minute. 

Joining Tranmere in 2014, he was unable to save the sinking ship as Rovers dropped to the pit of non-league football. 

Ridehalgh made an instant impact, slotting in well into Micky Mellon’s tactics and was part of the promotion winning campaign the season after. 

He’s now at Bradford City after signing for the Bantams in 2021, and is now a regular part of Mark Hughes’ team. 

  • Josh Ginnelly - Heart of Midlothian

Another one of Micky Mellon’s first half substitutes, being replaced by Connor Jennings, Ginnelly is now in  his third season in the Scottish Premier Football League, playing for Hearts.

Ginnelly arrived as a January loan signing from Burnley on a six-month loan, he rarely featured but began the play-off final. 

After his spell at Prenton Park, he’s had spells at Walsall, Preston North End, Bristol Rovers and now is a regular for Heart of Midlothian. 

In Norburn’s only season at Tranmere, he became a regular as Rovers were promoted. 

Starring 44 times throughout the season for Tranmere, Norburn started the full 90 minutes against Boreham Wood. Despite signing a three year deal, this was Norburn’s only season for the Super White Army.

He signed for Shrewsbury Town in League One after impressing in Blue and White, spending three seasons and thriving before moving to the Championship with Peterborough United

He starred 36 times as Posh were relegated, and now is injured as United are in League One. 

Norburn also has international caps for Grenada.

  • Larnell Cole - Flint Town United

The third of Micky Mellon’s substitutes, being replaced by Eddie Clarke in the ninth minute, Larnell Cole now plies his trade in Wales.

Cole moved to the non-league game after his spell in Birkenhead, signing for FC United of Manchester and Radcliffe back in his home town of Manchester, before moving up to Wales to sign for Flint Town United. 

  • Jeff Hughes - Larne

Former Northern Ireland international Jeff Hughes starred in the full 90 minutes of the play-off final at Wembley. 

Another who was part of the Tranmere squad that lost the play-off final the previous season, Hughed appeared 33 times as Tranmere chalked up promotion back to the Football League. 

Hughes left Rovers at the end of that season, returning to Ireland to play for Larne, where he still is now to this day. 

  • Andy Cook - Bradford City

Joining Liam Ridehalgh at Bradford is talisman Andy Cook. 

A fox in the box, Cook scored 23 goals in the season before Tranmere lost to Forest Green and played his part the year after when Tranmere were promoted. 

Cook opened the scoring on the day after six minutes, calmly finishing past Grant Smith. 

Rovers’ top scorer during both seasons he was there, Cook achieved the National League golden boot in 2017/18 before earning a Football League move. 

Cook moved to Walsall, Mansfield and now is in his third season at Bradford City.

  • James Norwood - Barnsley

Another marksman, James Norwood scored the winning goal to take Tranmere back to the Football League.

Norwood was brought to the club by Gary Brabin as part of the rebuild, ​​​although he never shone as much until the promotion winning campaign. 

Along with strike partners Andy Cook and Connor Jennings, Norwood thrived, netting 23 times including the goal against Boreham Wood, where his flicked header fell through the grasps of the Wood keeper, Grant Smith, as Tranmere ended a three year exile from the Football League.

The next season, he shone further for Rovers in another promotion winning campaign. Norwood finished the 2018–19 season as the joint top goal scorer in English football with 32 goals in all competitions, along with Manchester City's record goal scorer, Sergio Aguero, as Tranmere won promotion to League One.

Norwood moved onto Ipswich Town, failing to make a huge impact and after three seasons with the Tractor Boys, he moved to Yorkshire with Barnsley, were he has still failed to make an impact at Oakwell.

From the heights of the second tier, to the depths of non-league football, the 2017/18 promotion winning Tranmere Rovers players have certainly taken different paths down the years.