Runcorn Linnets

Date: Tuesday Nov 15 2011
Ground: Millbank Linnets Stadium
Comp: North West Counties League (step five)
Match: Runcorn Linnets 1 Stone Dominoes 1 HT: 0-0
Hardwick 68; Lowndes 58
ATT: 245
Additional: Entrance £5.00, Programme £1.50

Millbank Linnets Stadium in pictures
Ground Statistics (marks out of ten, maximum 40)
Character 5, Structures/Terracing 5, Hospitality 7, Backdrop/Scenery or aesthetics for larger stadiums 3
Total 20/40

Linnets’ lineage goes back to the non league giants of Runcorn FC, founded 1918, who along with Telford in the 80s, were league clubs in waiting and oft-times FA Cup heroes.. Runcorn won the Conference (Alliance then) in 1981/2, missing out on league status by a vote.

The club started to go the shape of another type of Conference in 2000, when they sold their Canal Street ground, to share with Widnes Rugby Club at Halton Stadium. Further to the demise was their name change; ironically the new double barrelled name in Runcorn FC Halton, diluting their aristocratic non-league pedigree, making them sound more non non-league; princes to paupers. They were dissolved in 2006.

What has risen from the ashes of Runcorn is a much smaller entity in Runcorn Linnets FC, who play at their own custom built stadium, which holds 1,600. This was after groundsharing at Witton Albion for a few years. They are in the same division as Runcorn Town, who have arrived in the NWCL Premier upwards rather than downwards; from the West Cheshire League.

This Runcorn comes in at just under 40 miles, at opposed to their rivals right up by the Mersey Estuary. The Millbank Linnets Stadium sits a short diversion off the M56, off the very unlit Murdishaw Avenue.

A perfectly fine and hospitable new build, if a bit bland – not helped by very little backdrop. Under the jaundiced glare of the floodlights, you can just about make out a low horizon of trees, but it does have a very bleak feel indeed, especially mid November.

The moon shines down on a bleak Linnets Stadium

No majestic industrial backdrop here, like at Runcorn Town. So far they have a small stand and diddy covered terrace behind one goal. These house the biggest average crowd in the division, of 200-300. They are much like Gresley FC in the Midland Alliance (also step five) who have also reformed from a former bigger non league club and attract crowds of 250+.

The game didn’t go according to plan with lowly Stone providing tougher opposition than imagined. I sensed frustration. The trouble with reformed clubs starting at a low level is that the crowd are not happy with anything less that wins, week in, week out, until they reach a more befitting division. I wonder if this takes away from the enjoyment of the game – such high expectations?

Stone took the lead on 58; bouyed up by still being on level terms at half time, they decided they could actually win the game. Runcorn got an equaliser 10 minutes later but couldn’t find a winner.


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