Akins impressed Parry almost instantly. While his ability was raw and rough around the edge, he was a tremendous athlete. Strong, quick and awkward to play against. On Monday 23rd August 2010, Akins got the break he had been hoping for.
The morning later he was confirmed as a Tranmere player on a one-year contract.
Speaking at the time, then-Tranmere boss Les Parry commented on the signings of McGurk and Akins.
“They’ve both done really well with us during their time here.
“They have shown excellent attitude and ability and are bright prospects.
“They are hungry young footballers who add to our attacking options and I’m delighted they have both agreed to join us.”
In that interview in 2018, Akins himself recalled his move to Tranmere.
“It changed when I went on trial with Rochdale in 2010 and they took me to Marbella in pre-season.” Akins said.
“I will always be grateful to Keith Hill because even though a deal did not materialise it meant that when I got a chance with Les Parry at Tranmere I was able to go there fit and hungry. The rest was history in terms of playing and building momentum.”
Rekindling his love for football
As Tuesdays go, 24thAugust 2010 was quite an eventful one for Akins.
Hours after Tranmere announced both his, and Adam McGurk’s permanent signings, he would be named on the bench for a Carling Cup tie at home to Swansea City. His debut was imminent.
That very night, he was introduced as an 82ndminute sub in a 3-1 defeat against the then-Championship Swans. His Rovers career was off and running.Embed from Getty Images
Over the following weeks, Akins would cement a place in the starting eleven where he played predominantly as a right winger. He was unorthodox, unpredictable and somewhat inconsistent.
His performances split opinion, but it was a time when Rovers fans were struggling to adjust with the level at which signings were being made and feared for the direction of the club (knowing what we know now, we were right to worry at the time). Afterall, the previous season had seen the whole John Barnes managerial fiasco/disaster and latterly led to a final day great escape at Stockport.
Akins credits his time at Tranmere for reigniting his passion for football.
“I really found myself as a player and a person. I’d had setbacks with Huddersfield and Hamilton but that was when I showed that I could do it. Can I start one game? Can I start two? Suddenly it was five. Then 10. I pushed on and on at Tranmere and really fell in love with the game again. I think that period really did shape my attitude to my whole career.”
As things transpired, Akins would be a key member of the team that maintained the club’s League One status over two seasons. The second of those seasons had seen the team struggle until the return of Ronnie Moore as manager, who ultimately guided the club to safety.
Tranmere departure and ultimate success
In July 2012, after 87 appearances and seven goals, Akins handed in a transfer request. It was a surprise to many. His style and laid-back approach wasn’t for everyone and some were keen for Rovers to cash-in. Ronnie Moore was adamant he wasn’t for sale.
Despite that, Akins would leave, joining fellow League One club Stevenage for an undisclosed fee. It was reportedly one of the biggest fees Stevenage had paid for a player.
Akins would score 10 goals in 49 appearances for the club before getting a move which would arguably define his career in 2014.
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