What i saw at the end of the game pretty much sums up what i made of Runcorn Linnets yesterday. The Runcorn team had left the pitch after losing 2-0 to Ashton Athletic, and while the Runcorn team had left the pitch, the Ashton team remained in the centre circle for a post-match de-brief. All the while the Runcorn fans waited at the pitch exit to give the Ashton team an ovation as they left the pitch. A class act from the fans of a class club.
A warm welcome from the club when we arrived.
Runcorn Linnets are a club re-born in 2006 from the old Runcorn FC, They are a Trust-based club formed in the off-season by the fans of the now defunct Runcorn FC (which was playing under the name “Runcorn FC Halton” at the time). Although at the time technically a “new” club, the Linnets were given special dispensation by the FA to be treated as a reformed version of Runcorn FC – the special dispensation was necessary as the old club had simply become dormant, choosing not to field a team, as opposed to ceasing to exist as a legal entity. Until 2010 they played their home games at Witton Albion whilst waiting to build their new ground. In the summer of 2010 the ground was ready and Witton Albion were the visitors in a game which attracted a crowd of over 1000 for the first match at the Millbank Linnets Stadium.
We arrived at the Millbank stadium around 2 hours before kick off, plenty of time to have a look around and get a few thoughts from trust members and the army of volunteers. We met our host Mark Buckley and he started us on the guided tour.
We then had a walk around the clubhouse and had a talk about the old Runcorn team along with the journey the re-born team has had over the past few years.
As it was the NWCFL league cup quarter-final we looked over the pictures of last years final as Linnets beat Formby 3-0 to win the trophy for the first time. Unfortunately after today’s result they won’t go on to defend the title.
As it’s Mark’s job to do the PA announcements at the ground we headed pitchside as he had to set up the equipment. Here we got some pictures of the Linnets left side ultras as they set up their flags in the stand behind the goal, along with Mark preparing the PA system.
The main stand where the PA system is based is sponsored by 2 local charities. Each season Linnets choose 2 local charities and have their names on the stand and raise money for them throughout the season. A fantastic gesture and one that shows the community ethos within this club.
While waiting for the teams to come out for the warm-up, apparently it’s tradition for assistant manager Stuart Humphreys and coach James Standing to play football bowls while waiting. I thought they may have been inspired by the Great British Curling team but apparently they’ve been doing it longer than that.
Flags up, PA set up and the teams come out for the warm-up. Only midfielder Kyle Hamid isn’t impressed with the music choice and decides to change the records.
While the teams are out to warm up, we head back indoors for a cup of tea and a match programme. A great little feature which Runcorn do is a £5 Bank Of Runcorn note, which they put into one of the programmes. Featuring the Head of gaffer Joey Dunn the note is redeemable for a real five-pound note from the clubhouse bar. Although i have been informed that many have refused to change it for a real one and keep the novelty Runcorn Fiver.
Almost time for kick off so back out and film the teams emerging from the changing rooms.
See my album on Facebook for match action shots here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1390040791270958.1073741828.100007951513687&type=1&l=f001e0a2ec
1-0 to Ashton Athletic at HT.
The views of my 8yr old lad who asked to tag along this week.
Halftime and back in the clubhouse. Along with the usual TV showing halftimes from BBC or Sky Sports News, Runcorn have a great little feature set up on another TV where it shows all latest tweets on a vidiprinter from the @NWCFL and their own Twitter feed. As the NWCFL HT results don’t come through the BBC or Sky Sports, it’s handy for fans to check whilst having a HT pie and cup of tea.
Back out for the second half and get in with the Left side ultras in the stand behind the goal Runcorn are attacking. Unfortunately they fail to score so we don’t get the full experience. However a decent atmosphere at that end of the ground.
A full time result of Runcorn Linnets 0-2 Ashton Athletic sees Ashton into the semi-final. A dissapointing game by Linnets and there’s apologies all round in the clubhouse from officials who say i witnessed their worst display of the season. Ashton thouroughly deserved winners but Runcorn deserve praise on the day for their hospitality and insight in to such a wonderful club.
As my lad asked to tag along to a game with me i gave him the task of writing a match report with his thoughts to the game. If anyone wants to read the thought’s of an 8yr old here it is: http://t.co/abFFZhA6bS