Sep 17 2013 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
JOHNNY KING deserves to be honoured as Tranmere’s best ever manager with a statue at Prenton Park, says his former assistant and current boss Ronnie Moore.
Supporters and club officials were given a first glimpse of how the statue will look at the weekend when sculptor Tom Murphy put a maquette, or miniature version of the work, on display at Prenton Park, prior to Rovers’ home game against Brentford.
Now the Tranmere Rovers Supporters Trust, who commissioned the project, will press ahead with fundraising initiatives to meet the £50,000 cost.
The full life-size version is due to be completed by next year.
Moore said: “Johnny King has a stand named after him and now there’s going to be a statue. He deserves it.
“He is probably the best manager the club ever had, when you consider what he did. Two promotions in his second spell, four trips to Wembley in just over a year and being so close to getting Tranmere into the Premier League when we made the play-offs three seasons in a row.
“That was such a big achievement for a club of this size.”
King managed Tranmere in two spells, from 1975 to 1980 and 1987 to 1996. Moore was a prominent figure in each.
As a marauding centre-forward, Moore scored 37 league and cup goals in Tranmere’s Division Four promotion season of 1975/76. Later he served as No.2 to King when the club, bankrolled by the wealth of chairman Peter Johnson, climbed from the basement of the Football League to the division now known as the Championship.
Moore said: “There were some disappointments in those years but not many. The vast majority of my memories are of good times. The statue is a great honour and I think Johnny’s wife Marion and the family appreciate what is being done.”
Liverpool sculptor Murphy, whose works include the statues of Bill Shankly at Anfield and Dixie Dean at Everton, chose the pose of King from a photo taken during his second spell as manager.
Murphy said that getting the chance to meet King and his family recently was a big plus. He explained: “Even when you have a reasonably good photograph of the subject, the sculpture stands and falls in terms of likeness on the bone structure in the face. Even though Johnny is an older man now, I can still see all the different facets of his face. It’s going to be extremely useful, especially in the larger version.
“The pose itself is inspirational. Having met Johnny King, I love the idea of this pose. It is celebratory and the message is clear: get the best out of yourself.”
Tranmere’s owner/chairman Peter Johnson was among those who viewed the statue on Saturday.
Trust chairman Ben Harrison said: “We’re very excited about finally unveiling the maquette. All the Trust board have been thrilled to see the results of Tom’s efforts over the last three months and we’re sure it will create quite a buzz.”
In addition to cash donations, the Trust will be undertaking a number of projects to raise the required funds. Shares in Tranmere Rovers, a range of limited edition items and the chance for fans to have their name engraved on the statue’s plinth are just some of the items for purchase and all proceeds will go to the statue fund, while a fund-raising dinner and other initiatives are also planned.
CASH donations can be made online via the website or alternatively by sending a cheque made payable to ‘Tranmere Rovers Trust’ to Tranmere Rovers Trust, PO Box 352, Birkenhead, CH25 9EG.