Tranmere Rovers players past and present have come together to support Warwick Rimmer after he was shortlisted for a Football League Award as an ‘Unsung Hero’.
70-year-old Rimmer who is widely credited for developing the club’s youth development programme, 25 years ago, originally joined Rovers in 1983 as the club’s Commercial Manager.
Four years later he found his niche when he was asked by owner Peter Johnson to establish a youth system at the club. Drawing upon his time as a player at Bolton Wanderers, Rimmer quickly established a blueprint for youth development that has made a lasting contribution at Prenton Park.
Not only were players produced that were ready for the first team but crucially year after year his home-grown youngsters were sold on to bigger clubs, generating much needed transfer income that now totals £15 million pounds.
Jason Koumas, who was perhaps one of the most expensive Rimmer exports (He joined West Bromwich Albion for £2.25 million) is convinced that his former mentor would be a worthy recipient of the award:
“His record of producing players is right up there with anyone else you care to mention,” said Koumas.
“It would be fantastic to see him finally get the national recognition he deserves.”
The former Wales international and Championship Player of the Year 2007, hung up his boots last summer but he has not forgotten how Rimmer’s intervention helped his career to take shape as a teenager.
“I actually left Liverpool to join Tranmere because of Warwick Rimmer,” added Koumas.
“He took the time to sit me down and tell me how he thought I’d fit in at Tranmere and how he’d work with me to develop me as a player.”
“I don’t mind admitting that Warwick was the single biggest influence on me. He helped me on and off the pitch and even when I was a professional playing in the first-team that support never wavered.”
“That’s what’s brilliant about him. You know that no matter what he’s in the background willing you on to do well.”
Another player keen to hail Rimmer’s impact on their career is Queens Park Rangers, defender, Clint Hill;
“Warwick was tremendous for me when I coming through at Tranmere,” said Hill.
“Whether I needed advice about the game or on a personal level he was always there to guide me.”
“I can only say good things about Warwick and if he was to win this award it would be fully merited.”
“Warwick’s been great servant to Tranmere and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s been instrumental in keeping the club afloat.”
“Just look at the number of players that he’s personally brought to the club that have then been sold on.”
Goal-scoring legend John Aldridge also benefitted from the Rimmer finishing school during his five year tenure as the club’s manager.
Aldridge’s team-sheets often brimmed with players developed at the club’s Valley Road and Raby Vale training bases with the likes of Steve Simonsen, Danny Coyne, Alan Rogers, John McGreal, Kenny Irons, Ged Brannan, Alan Mahon and Ian Thomas-Moore all making their mark during Aldo’s reign as boss.
He too is also unreserved in his praise of Rimmer.
“When I was made Manager of the club he was one of the first people I turned to for support,” said Aldridge.
“To produce so many players for what was then a club operating in the Championship is no mean feat.”
“He commands respect everywhere he goes.”
“If you talk to parents and the players he’s worked with they all think the world of him which is great testimony to the work he’s done so it’s pleasing to see him up for this award.”
Since Aldridge’s departure the likes of Ryan Taylor (Newcastle Utd), Steven Davies (Derby County), Chris Dagnall (Barnsley) and Dale Jennings (Bayern Munich) have all come and gone but one current player who has grown up with Rimmer is Danny Holmes.
The youngest of three brothers to have represented the club, Holmes knows Rimmer better than most.
“He’s someone who always has time for you,” said Holmes.
“He’s got cracking stories about his time as a footballer and he’ll just do stuff that you wouldn’t believe – like walking on his hands down the corridor.”
“Everyone here thinks of Warwick as a legend.”