GARY WILLIAMS, the man who scored arguably the most important goal in Tranmere’s history, has called on supporters to unite behind the team and the manager as they battle to pull out of a run of poor results.
Williams’ winning goal against Exeter City in 1987 saved Rovers from the threat of losing their Football League status.
“It seemed like the whole of Birkenhead and Wirral was behind us that night and that’s the kind of support the club needs now – everyone pulling together,” Williams said.
The former midfielder says he was “surprised and appalled” to hear how elements of Tranmere’s 582-strong away support at the 1-0 defeat to Oldham Athletic last Saturday spent the whole of the second half chanting for manager Les Parry to be sacked.
Williams said: “What kind of supporters do that to their own club and to a manager who is one of their own? Les Parry is Birkenhead born and bred and is a Tranmere fan through and through. He has been doing an outstanding job under very difficult conditions since he took over as manager.
“He does not deserve treatment like that. He deserves credit for the huge amount of effort and commitment he puts him and his staff put in.
“Of course everyone is disappointed by the way results have been going lately. But take a look at the league table and every club below Tranmere is operating with greater resources than Les has got to work with, never mind the clubs above. Some of the top clubs are spending as much on the wages of a couple of players as Les has to spend on his whole squad.
“The game is more and more about finance now, even at League One level, and Les has been doing wonders with a little he has available.”
Williams added: “The fans seem to be blind to that and Les has not made it a big issue. He just gets on with making the best job he can. But money is the biggest issue. You just have to look at the teams in the top six to see that.”
Williams played close to 200 games for Tranmere between 1982 and 1989, scoring 16 goals, having previously played for Blackpool and Swindon Town.
He lives on the Wirral and works in education programmes for the unemployed, linking with voluntary groups such as Vola and Oakmere as well as the Vocation College.
Williams added: “I will always regard myself as a Tranmere fan as well as an ex-professional. I can’t understand Tranmere supporters, Birkenhead and Wirral people, turning on one of their own because results are not going well.
“Tranmere were on the brink of going out of existence altogether, not just going out of the Football League when Peter Johnson came in 25 years ago.
“As a club Tranmere are in much better shape now than in 1987, when the place was falling apart. The fans who are complaining now need to keep that in perspective. Perhaps some of them grew up thinking we have a right to be in the Championship as we were in the 1990s. It does not work like that.
“Tranmere is a great little community club with a youth development system that produces local, Merseyside players. Les Parry (right) gives them a chance in the side and it has paid dividends with the likes of Aaron Cresswell, Dale Jennings and Ash Taylor.
“He’s got players in on loan from Everton, like Jose Baxter and James Wallace, who were giving him a good go. Do you think Everton would let those young players come to Prenton Park if they did not think Les knew what he was doing?”
The vocal criticism from elements of supporters has grown during a 10-game run without a victory. After the Oldham defeat Tranmere dropped to within two points of the League One relegation places.
Williams said: “I can’t agree with the criticisms fans are making. Les gets a lot of respect from within the game and no manager Tranmere could appoint will have as much love for the club as Les does.”
Parry moved into management after spending 20 years as Rovers’ physiotherapist and some fans have argued this lack of a professional playing background counts against him. Williams doesn’t agree.
He said: “If you accept that argument then the likes of Lawrie McMenemy should never have been a successful manager. A massive part of the job is man management and motivation and Les is brilliant at that.
“If you follow the logic of the fans argument then their opinions don’t count for anything because they have not played the game professionally.”
Williams added: “This club needs everyone pulling together and to be positive. All of the negativity does no one any good.”