Runcorn Linnets - the story so far
Runcorn Linnets enjoyed a very creditable introduction to Northern Premier League football in 2018-19.
Remaining competitive throughout the season following promotion to the NPL Division One West, they eventually missed out on a Play-off spot on goal difference.
Comfort with their new status was further underlined by the Linnets progressing to the Semi-Finals of the Integro League Cup, defeating two Premier Division opponents along the way.
In 2019-20, after further reorganisation within the newly-rebranded BetVictor Northern Premier League, the club will again meet fresh challenges - facing no fewer than seven new league opponents in the North West Division.
Runcorn Linnets had put the heartbreak of multiple promotion disappointments behind them by securing a place in the NPL as The Hallmark Security League Premier Division champions of 2017-18.
Manager Michael Ellison had plenty of cause for celebration in the 100th anniversary year of the founding of the original Linnets, Runcorn AFC after steering the team into the fourth tier of the National League System in only his second season in management.
After three runners-up finishes in the previous four seasons, promotion was finally clinched on April 28th 2018 the 12th anniversary of the fans-owned club's foundation.
The title was duly secured on May 3rd with a 5-0 home victory over Blackpool outfit, Squires Gate.
The long-awaited league crown had been captured with two matches to spare and 100 points – a club record 122 league goals being scored over the 44 games and only 36 conceded.
A crowd of 890 – the Linnets' biggest for a competitive home match – saw the league winners' trophy being lifted by jubilant club captain, Kyle Hamid on the final day of the league season.
Linnets have come a long way since being founded in 2006 by supporters of former national non-league champions, Runcorn AFC after a traumatic end for the old club.
The initial aims had been to bring the successor Linnets back to Runcorn and re-establish the club as one of which the community could be proud. Both these ambitions were achieved with the club still in its infancy.
The Millbank Linnets Stadium in Murdishaw, Runcorn, opened in 2010 with the project having been supported by Halton Borough Council, the FA and Football
Foundation as well as the club and its fans.
The winter of 2017 saw the completion of a replacement £1.4 million clubhouse as part of wider redevelopment of surrounding land with retail and leisure facilities. The stadium is also home to Runcorn Linnets Ladies.
At the same time, surrounding pitches were fenced in for use by the Linnets' numerous junior teams with the club also signing a new long-term lease for the extended site with Halton Council.
Runcorn Linnets Football Club was born after Runcorn AFC had intimated they would not be in a position to field a team beyond the end of 2005-06 season.
Since leaving town in 2001, the now defunct club had suffered a troubled and nomadic existence.
Fans met at their spiritual home of Canal Street – in the then Quayside (now Bridgewater) Bar and Function Rooms, next to the Linnets Park housing estate on which Runcorn AFC's ground had once stood.
An existing Supporters Trust was remodelled to run Runcorn Linnets, whose identity was derived from Runcorn AFC's nickname.
The new club spent its first four years playing home games as tenants of Witton Albion FC at Wincham Park, gaining promotion at the first attempt to the top division of the North West Counties League.
Victory against Formby in the NWCL Challenge Cup final in 2012-13 brought a first winners' trophy for the first team.
This season will see Linnets make their debut in the NPL Academy as they look to build on firm foundations.