18 Sep 2021 : In Memory of Joan Bettley
Everyone associated with Runcorn Linnets FC is deeply saddened to have received the news on Friday that one of our most beloved and staunch supporters, Joan Bettley, has passed away, age 90, following a short illness.
Joan, and the rest of the Bettley family, have been closely involved in Runcorn AFC and latterly Linnets for over 70 years. Those supporters who frequented the old Runcorn Travel Club will remember Joan, and her late husband Wilf, as the organisers of our coach journeys watching the team all over the country, picking up the role in the 1970's when manager Stan Storton started to forbid supporters travelling on the same coach as the players. The travel club was a treasured part of the old club, and Joan ran it to perfection. And in times that were much more difficult to organise things than today. There was no email, no card payments, no txt messages or whatsapp groups, it was all done with a notebook (that never seemed to be out of her hands!) a landline telephone number, a chequebook and a huge amount of dedication!
In the clubs golden days at the top of the Alliance Premier League, Vauxhall Conference (both now known as the National League), big FA Cup & Trophy games and of course, our 3 visits to Wembley, there would be multiple coaches all leaving the old Linnets Social club at Canal Street and returning in the middle of the night! It really was no mean feat, but only ever done with a welcoming smile and total reliability. And my, it was great company to be in regardless of what had happened on the pitch! People still talk fondly to this day about Wilf's legendary games of Bingo on the travel club bus!
It was during this time that Joan struck up a friendship, that would last the rest of her life, with Joyce Carter, mother of one of our greatest ever players Mark (Spike) Carter. Everyone reading this who has watched the club in our Linnets days will have passed and likely recognise Joan and Joyce, always sat roughly in the middle of the stand together. Despite her travel club days coming to an end with the formation of Runcorn Linnets, Joans unwavering support for the club remained just as strong. A trust member, season ticket holder, always took part in the raffle, golden goal and more recently even our more obscure fundraisers such as the Covid Virtual Matches when the 2019/20 season was curtailed early.
And of course, another of Joans legacy's is her son Dave, our Trust Secretary. Equally as well known and popular around the club as his Mum and Dad, Dave is another who's support has always been well beyond the terraces. For many years Dave was the sports reporter for the Runcorn Weekly News, ensuring that the club always took prime spot on the back page of the paper and was reported on in forensic detail. Still a season ticket holder at Runcorn Linnets himself, Daves other roles over the years include program editor, program columnist, media officer, website administrator, turnstile operator, cleaning crew member and many more. The club would not be where it is today without Dave's involvement since day one.
The Bettley family have always embodied everything great about Runcorn AFC & everything that we love about Runcorn Linnets. From the formation of the new club in 2006 they have always understood the true meaning of what being a fans run club is.
Joan will be greatly missed by everyone involved with the club, her warmth and smile have touched so many people over decades of loyal support and volunteering work. Runcorn Linnets has lost one of its very special people, a true lifelong supporter through the good times and the darkest times, and she will never be forgotten.
All of our thoughts are with her son Dave, the rest of Joans family and all of her friends at this difficult time.
R.I.P. Joan Bettley.
16 Sep 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 34
A mixed couple of results for the men's team since my last update. Firstly, we put in a tactical masterclass against Clitheroe to win 2-1 with a well worked team goal culminating in a very tidy finish from Dapo and a great individual goal from the on fire Ryan Brooke. We then followed that 3 days later with a disappointing 2-1 defeat away to Bootle. Whilst the result was disappointing, the lads have played a lot of football over the last few weeks and overall, we've got to be happy with what we have achieved so far.
Next up, is of course Bamber Bridge in the 2nd qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup. I have been so happy with our attendances this season and it would be great to see us top the highest attendance we have gotten so far. It'll be a big ask as 729 against 1874 was a very good attendance. Bamber Bridge are from the league above and have had a very good start to the season so the lads are going to need your support to get the job done.
Women's FA Cup
The Linnets Ladies made history on Sunday when they took part in the Vitality Women's FA Cup for the first time. They were watched by a crowd of 282 and they did us proud with a great performance and a 4-1 win against Preston North End. It was also the highest attendance in the Vitality Women's FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round in the entire country and that is a tremendous achievement.
It was great to see so many fans out to see our Ladies team, as growing their support and improving the Ladies match day experience is one of my priorities.
The Ladies next game is against Altrincham in the league on Sunday 19th September at 2pm, admission is £2 and 18 and under can get in for free.
FA Youth Cup
The Youth Team took on AFC Liverpool in the FA Trophy at the APEC Linnets Stadium on Wednesday and they put in a brilliant performance but unfortunately lost in sudden death of a penalty shootout. To continue the theme of great crowds, there were 215 fans there to witness it.
It was a very entertaining game including a stoppage time equaliser from the young Linnets to make the game 3-3 which sparked wild celebrations on and off the pitch. Although the run has come to an end, it has been a great experience for the lads and I'm sure they will be better players for it.
Unauthorised pitch use
Over the last few weeks, we have been dealing with the issue of unauthorised pitch use. Youths have been gaining access to the ground late in the evening and have even been turning the floodlights on to play on the pitch. This is obviously causing us problems in relation to pitch wear and tear and then there are the security issues and safety issues. We have already implemented improved security arrangements and have been in discussions with our sponsor Complete Security Services and the local police.
Whilst the security of the site is a concern, in my opinion it is just young lads who want to play on a world class pitch under the floodlights. So, we have also been discussing options with the local police which will allow us to set aside a booking on the pitch, probably on a Friday evening, for them to run a free community football programme. My hope is that if they are allowed to play on the pitch then they will be less likely to gain unauthorised access and cause any damage. We are always looking at ways to
increase our work in the community so this will kill two birds with one stone.
Meeting with the Leader of Halton Borough Council
Today I met with the Leader of the Council Mike Wharton to show him the work we have done and outline our plans for the future. He was very impressed and complimentary about how the ground is looking and was very happy with the work we have been doing in the local community.
He also said that the Council will help us in any way they can with our ground redevelopment plans including help with planning and with gaining grants for the work. It was a very positive meeting and hopefully we will be able to work more closely with the council in the future.
Our Maintenance Team have already made huge improvements to the ground but we are always looking at ways to improve the match day experience for our fans and we also listen to all feedback. The feedback we have received in relation to the relocation of the bar to the old Nest kitchen have been mostly positive, however we are aware that there have been some issues with queuing.
So, our latest improvement has been to move the perimeter fence so the old Juniors door is now inside the ground. The idea being that if you are queuing for the bar, then you queue through that door as it is nearest the bar and then you can exit more easily through the door near the tea bar without the congestion. Hopefully this will improve the flow of the queue for the bar.
Runcorn Linnets FC - Chairman
14 Sep 2021 : This Week at the APEC Taxis Stadium
This Week at the APEC Taxis Stadium!
Another busy week at the APEC Taxis Stadium, with 3 football matches including 2 FA Cup ties and we are also hosting our first fundraising event of the season.
Wednesday 15th Sept - 7:30pm KO
Runcorn Linnets U21 vs AFC Liverpool
FA Youth Cup - 1st Round Qualifying
Saturday 18th Sept - 3:00pm KO
Runcorn Linnets vs Bamber Bridge
FA Cup - 2nd Round Qualifying
Prices: Adults £8, Concession £5, Under 18s £1
Saturday 18th Sept - 7:00pm
Runcorn Linnets FC Race Night
Bar will remain open after our 3pm KO vs Bamber Bridge.
Price: FREE ENTRY
Sunday 19th Sept - 2:00pm KO
Runcorn Linnets Ladies vs Altrincham
North West Women's Regional League - Division 1 South
Prices: Adults £2, Under 18s FREE
Need a lift home afterwards?
Why don't you get in touch with our brand new stadium sponsors APEC Taxis.
Call: 01928 57 57 57
or Book Online: Book Online
09 Sep 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 33
FA Cup Game Against Liversedge
Another great crowd attended our FA Cup fixture against Liversedge and they were rewarded with a great performance and victory to take us through to the 2nd Qualifying Round.
The victory was of course overshadowed by the horrific injury sustained by Alex Downes. As I'm sure you've hopefully all heard, Alex is ok and underwent surgery to repair facial fractures and now just needs to rest and allow himself to heal. I wish Alex all the best and we will look after him while he recovers.
It was a truly horrific situation but I would like to thank everyone for their actions especially Luke Davies for his swift response and taking care of Alex until the paramedics arrived, the Liversedge Physio for assisting Luke, Josh Christian for his swift action in calling for an ambulance and manager Calum McIntyre for going straight to be with Alex after the game and staying with him. I would also like to thank Mike and Ste Bignall and everyone else who assisted in getting the goal out of the way of the ambulance gate so the ambulance could gain access to the pitch. The response time of the ambulance was also very good.
I'd also like to mention our Club Captain Peter Wylie who calmly stepped up to take control of the situation with our players who were obviously distressed at seeing their teammate in such a bad state and he even helped us move the goal.
It was great to win the game and be in the hat for the next round, it was a very good performance and a deserved win. It would be absolutely amazing to go on a run in the FA Cup.
As I mentioned in my notes for the Liversedge programme, the FA Cup evokes memories of cup games at Canal Street and I would love us to host a 1 st Round Proper game at the APEC Taxis Stadium. Now that we know we have drawn Bamber Bridget in the 2 nd Qualifying Round it brings back even more memories from the good old days of the old club.
The Linnets Ladies started their league campaign with a 4-2 defeat against Warrington Wolves but on Sunday they will make history with their first appearance in the FA Cup at the APEC Taxis Stadium against Preston North End Women.
It's sure to be a great game and I would urge as many of you as possible to come out and support our Ladies in their first appearance in the FA Cup. Admission is only £2 and the bar and tea bar will be open.
FA Youth Cup
The Youth Team took on Marine in the FA Trophy at the APEC Linnets Stadium last Wednesday and they put in a brilliant performance to win 1-0 with a late goal from Luke Smith.
They play AFC Liverpool in the next round, again at the APEC Taxis Stadium on Wednesday 15th September at 7.30. I'm sure the boys will put on another great performance and it would be good to see as many of you there as possible, admission is only £1.
It has been absolutely fantastic to see so many Linnets Juniors at our home games. It was really good to see a crowd of over 500 at a midweek game and even better that so many of them were young fans. They are the future of this club and hopefully they keep coming, they certainly will if Calum's boys keep putting on performances like they did against Kidsgrove.
There is a clear one club mentality from everyone involved with the Linnets now and I'd like to thank everyone involved with the Juniors for all their help over the last few months. We will be introducing a few more initiatives during the season to attract even more Juniors to our games.
Water Plus update
Whilst I was at the APEC Taxis Stadium on Tuesday someone from United Utilities turned up to do a survey of the site. I showed him round and made it clear what I thought of the chargeable areas that Water Plus were claiming.
He was in agreement that all the areas other than the clubhouse and the small area of tarmacked car park drain off onto either the Juniors pitches or the Hybrid Pitch. He will now submit his report and hopefully we will be nearer to a resolution.
02 Sep 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 32
Men's Team Matches
The lads have just had a hefty schedule with 3 games in 6 days (with the first of those games being 2 hours long) and to come away with 3 wins is exceptional. The crowd of 729 at our Bank Holiday derby against 1874 Northwich was tremendous.
It was great to see so many fans at the 1874 Northwich game, 729 is a tremendous figure for us, especially following the 704 against Widnes and it was once again great to see so many young fans in attendance. Let's hope they keep coming back for more.
Saturday is all about the magic of the cup and for a club like ours a run in the FA Cup can be very special for the fans and the players. The impact last season's run had on Marine can still be seen now with the exposure they received and of course the prize money.
For me the FA Cup also evokes memories of Canal Street and seeing Runcorn on Match Of The Day and it would be amazing if we could emulate that. Seeing the BBC cameras at the APEC Taxis Stadium would be brilliant and it would be even better to see the stadium and our boys in yellow and green on the TV.
We are still a long way from that but we will just enjoy our run in the cup while we can, the extra time win against Avro was great and you could tell how much our fans enjoyed it by their response to the players at the end of the game.
Saturday's game won't be an easy one for the Linnets, Liversedge are top of their division having won all 5 of their league games so far and the lads will really need the help of the fans to get us over the line. We need you to be the 12th man, you've already been turning out in numbers and now we need you to bring the noise. We need to leave the players in doubt about who the home side is.
Unfortunately, Water Plus have struck again, after thinking we had started to get somewhere with them, they have reverted to kind by now sending another credit agency after us. I have explained the same situation to them and that the previous agent I dealt with agreed that Water Plus had made a mistake after visiting the site and I am now awaiting a reply.
Hopefully they will be reasonable and we can finally get a resolution. It's just a shame that only the agencies that Water Plus refer us to are willing to talk to us and Water Plus themselves seem so unwilling to understand why we are unwilling to pay the amount they are demanding.
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