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Linnets Legends

Mark Carter, "Spike" Carter is another of those players who would fit most fans definition of a Linnets Legend and who also played and managed the team during his association with the club. Mum Joyce is still a regular at home matches. I’m sure I remember Joyce telling me she used to keep a scrap book. That would make interesting reading. We all have our favourite memories of players and the goals they scored, but Spike scored so many memorable goals it would be hard to choose. Spike was born in Liverpool in December 1960 and was also a keen cricketer in the Liverpool area. He joined Liverpool as a youngster and also played for South Liverpool and Bangor before joining Runcorn in 1984. He had already captained Bangor City in the FA Trophy final at Wembley earlier that year and went on to play in the Runcorn side which lost to Altrincham in 1986. When asked to name his favourite Gola (Conference) League player at that time, Spike named John Imrie! (Obviously a great admirer of John’s as he later appointed him as assistant manager at Canal Street) As well as finishing with a runners-up medal in the Trophy Final, Spike was also a member of the squad which dominated the Cheshire Senior Cup, winning it five times between 1984/85 and 1988/89 as well as the Gola Championship Shield in 1985/86. He finally left to go to Barnet in 1991 (reputedly for a fee of £40,000) having been a prolific goal scorer for the club. He won eleven caps for the England non-league team and was the leading Semi-Professional International goalscorer of his time. Carter was a striker feared throughout the league and perhaps only Kim Casey at Kidderminster compared to Spike during this period. In 1986/87 he was voted as the Semi-Professional Player of the Year in the non-league handbook. After leaving Barnet, he continued to play in the League for Bury and then Rochdale averaging almost a goal every two games during his league career. Spike played over 320 times for Runcorn in his first period at the club, scoring almost 200 goals. He returned to the club in 1999 as coach from Ashton, but almost immediately took over as manager when Derek Brownbill was sacked. Spike appointed John Imrie as his assistant but they were not able to build a successful team and lost their jobs in September 2000 when Liam Watson was appointed as manager. "Spike" Carter is a true Linnets Legend who will always be remembered for his work rate and goalscoring prowess.

Jim Cumbes, Jimmy Cumbes was probably the best goalkeeper Runcorn ever had. He played for us for a spell from 1964 -1965 and returned for a short period to help out in 1977. I say “probably” because Runcorn have had many good goalkeepers over the years but none of them emulated the career of Jim. Derek Greenwood was in contact with him just over a year ago when he kindly offered to donate a cricket bat to help us raise funds for the club. He is, of course, nowadays the Chief Executive at Old Trafford for Lancashire CC where he once played as a medium pace bowler. Jim was one of those rare breed of sportsmen who played two sports at the highest level, football for Aston Villa and cricket for Lancashire in his prime. In a letter he sent to Derek Greenwood, he thanked him for a copy of a programme he had sent to him. This was the Cheshire Senior Cup Final against Tranmere Rovers in 1965. Jim recalled “It is a match I will actually never forget as it was probably my best match for Runcorn in a 0 – 0 draw (we went on to win the replay 3 – 2). It was this game, I felt, that eventually got me transferred to Tranmere Rovers at the beginning of the next season and, of course, led to my career progressing onwards to West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa”. Jim recalled his time at Runcorn with affection and mentioned players such as Alan King and Eddie Moss (who is an occasional visitor to Old Trafford cricket ground as he is the uncle of one of the players). I should be grateful if anybody knows which player? Jim also recalled two “great characters” of the time in Jack Boothway and Freddie Pye, the then Altrincham manager, who now lives in Spain. Jim was born in East Didsbury in Manchester in May 1944. He played for just one season at Runcorn taking over for a period from the legendary Brian Pendlebury who will be featured in a later article. He played for Tranmere from 1965-69 and then spent 3 years at WBA (£33,500) before being transferred to Aston Villa in 1971, (£35,000) where he stayed until 1976, helping them to get back into the First Division and win the League Cup. He played 182 times for the Villa and kept 69 clean sheets. He then spent a time in the USA with Portland Timbers before rejoining Coventry. He came back to Runcorn to help out for a brief spell in 1977 and ended his career at Kidderminster in 1982 having spent 3 years at Worcester City, also playing cricket for that county and winning the Gillette Cup and County Championship. Jim was indeed a gifted sportsman and deserves to be one of our Linnets Legends.

Peter Duff, Some of the players we have looked at in the series so far have become Linnets Legends almost on the back of one season or even one great game. Not so Peter Duff. Born in Manchester in 1950, he was a stalwart of the Runcorn defence from 1970 right through to 1981. He had started his playing career as a youngster with Manchester City, having been spotted playing with Xaverian College by City’s chief scout, Harry Goodwin. He played in the Central League team with Stan Bowles, Willie Donachie and Joe Corrigan. He moved to Runcorn while studying at Wolverhampton Polytechnic. In 1976, when Stan Storton’s team won the Northern Premier League, Duff was chosen as the player of the season, no mean feat in a team that included Bailey, Wilson, Whitbread and Finnigan! And Duff was still around when the Linnets won the NPL again under John Williams in 1981! The Weekly News produced a special pull – out to commemorate the winning of the NPL in 1980/81 and Duff’s defensive partner at that time was Ben Seddon. “He’s a great player to play with” said Seddon. “I’m naturally a ball winner but, whenever I lose it, I can guarantee that Peter will be behind and ready to mop up” It was quite a coincidence that Duff was granted two testimonials during his time at Canal Street and on each occasion the team won the League title! (Come back, Peter!) His array of medals was impressive. In eleven years at the club he won 2 league titles (and one runners-up), 2 Senior Cup medals (and 2 runners-up), 3 Challenge Cup medals (and one runners-up) and a Challenge Shield winners medal! Quite a collection. And not to mention the heartache of 3 FA Trophy semi-final defeats in the 1970s! Duff was eventually replaced in the heart of the defence by Elfyn Edwards. Peter Duff was a quiet, unassuming man who dedicated his football career to Runcorn FC. I was fortunate enough to play with Peter on odd occasions as we were both studying in Wolverhampton at the same time but on different courses. Wednesday afternoons were traditionally the days when colleges and universities played their fixtures and I turned out regularly in those days. Peter would turn up for a game from time to time but I was sworn to secrecy not to tell the manager that he was playing! Needless to say he only went through the motions and left the rest of us to do the running around! So, of all the Runcorn players we have so far looked at, perhaps Peter is the one whose loyalty and devotion to the club, as well as his medals tally, quite rightly earn him the title of Linnets Legend.

Alan King, It is May 1976 and Runcorn have just won the Northern Premier League title for the first time. The team had reached the semi-final of the FA Trophy only to end up with ten men and losing by an odd goal to Stafford over the two legs. And the man who had led the Linnets to these new heights on the field? Alan King. And what a team he led. A look at the goal scoring charts for that season makes interesting reading. Finnigan 43; Whitbread 29; Howard 21. What most teams would give for that forward line nowadays! Alan King had already had a good career at Tranmere Rovers when he arrived at Runcorn in 1973 and he played for the Linnets right up until 1980. He was a natural leader and an inspirational figure on the field. He dominated the centre circle and although he didn’t have the pace, his reading of the game was impeccable and he let the younger lads do the running for him. During his time at Canal Street, King led the team to three Trophy semi-finals as well as the league title, the club’s first since the Cheshire League title in the early 1960s. King was the leader on the field but in Stan Storton, the Linnets had found a first class non-league manager. The two together were irresistible. Indeed, when Storton left the club in 1979, it was King who took over briefly as manager before the appointment of Jim McCalliog (who you will not be surprised to learn has not made it into our series on Linnets Legends!) How nice it was then that Alan King was one of the “Old Brigade” to turn up at Canal Street for that final match in our home town. He obviously felt a close affinity with the club after all these years. King was not a great goal scorer. His strength was in his passing and his leadership. He had started his career at Tranmere in the early 1960s and he made over 420 league appearances in his ten years at the club. As a 27 year old he moved into the semi-professional game with the Linnets, and what followed was an unprecedented spell of success for the club. Alan King always led by example and the winning of the NPL title was the pinnacle of his captaincy. That title actually put the Linnets in with an opportunity to appear in an Anglo-Italian non-league competition but financial issues prevented this from happening. King remained at the club for three more seasons after that, but had departed from the scene before the arrival of John Williams and the NPL title for a second time. Alan King will always be a Linnets Legend as the first captain at the club to lift the NPL Trophy.

Eddie Moss, For this article in the series of Linnets Legends we look back to the 1960s and one of the best players ever to wear the Runcorn shirt. Before we left Canal Street, we held an evening of memorabilia and invited some of the past players to attend and it was nice to see Eddie there that evening. I was pleased to be able to chat with Jock Cunningham that night and he recognised what a huge influence Eddie Moss had been on that Runcorn team. It is always difficult to talk about Eddie Moss without reference to Alan Foster. They were the original double act and although it was Foster who often hit the headlines with his goal scoring it was Moss who was the inspiration. He was brought to Runcorn in 1961 by Jack Boothway and played throughout the 1960s until his departure in 1969. The highlights of his time at the club included the winning of the old Cheshire League in 1962/63. With Alan Foster they scored over 50 goals together during that season and after the title was won at Stalybridge, Boothway was quoted as saying that "this is the best side I have ever managed". The forward line of Chapman, Stewart, Foster, Moss, Daly was a formidable line up. Further success came for Moss in December 1967 when League side Notts County came to Runcorn in the 1st Round proper of the FA Cup on a cold and snowy day. Over 6,000 fans packed Canal Street to see their team win 1 – 0 with a goal from Alan Ryan. The players all received a £10 bonus for the win! Moss was born in Skelmersdale and had started his playing career at Liverpool. He represented Lancashire schoolboys and Liverpool County FA before playing in the Football League for five seasons with Southport which is where Runcorn were drawn in the 2nd Round in January 1968. But there was to be no further giant killing that day with the then League team winning 4 – 2. Moss played well over 400 games for Runcorn and scored over 130 goals in that time. He was an all-round sportsman, enjoying cricket, swimming and tennis. He partnered two of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the club in Alan Foster and Alan Ryan. The number 10 shirt belonged to Eddie Moss. Many would claim he was the best footballer ever to play for the club. Eddie passed away in December 2020.

Brian Pendlebury, No series of articles on Linnets Legends would be complete without the late Brian Pendlebury. "Pengy" was a local lad who kept goal for Runcorn from the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Under Cyril Lello, Brian became a first class keeper and as early as 1959 he was pulling in the league scouts. A report in the programme of 19 December 1959 claimed that “A scout from Sheffield Wednesday was at Canal Street last Saturday watching Brian Pendlebury, but although it was such a needle match, Brian was not called upon to produce any of the grand saves we all know he is capable of.” Brian was born in Sandbach but lived in Runcorn for most of his life. He played for Runcorn Amateurs and for the Preston Youth side. He also had representative honours for the Chester & Disrict Youth team as well as the Cheshire Youth team. When Cyril Lello left and Jack Boothway took over as manager, Pengy still remained the first choice keeper, winning the Cheshire League title in 1962/63 and also medals in the Cheshire Senior Cup. Although he lost his place for a period to Jimmy Cumbes in 1965 he regained the keepers spot when Cumbes was transferred to Tranmere after a magnificent display in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final that year. Brian was part of the historic team that defeated Notts County in 1967 and continued to play in goals up until 1970/71 when he was finally replaced by Alec Clarke (interesting to note that Alec Clarke scored a penalty for the Linnets against New Brighton at the start of the 1971/72 season! Few could remember the last time a goalkeeper had scored for Runcorn but the belief was that Dick Williams had done so in the 1930s!). Can anybody come up with a list of goalkeepers who have scored for the Linnets over the years? We all remember Peter Eales letting Dagenham’s keeper score at Canal Street! In 1982 Brian did a series of interviews with Dave Bettley for the Weekly News looking back at the match with Notts County, which he regarded as his greatest moment in football. He recalls touring the pubs and never paying for a drink and how they ended up on the stage at the Red Admiral to tumultuous applause! Those were certainly the days and nobody deserves to be a Linnets Legend more than Brian Pendlebury for his dedication to the club over a dozen years.

Alan Ryan, Alan Ryan was a shipping clerk when he became a Linnets Legend on 9 December 1967. Runcorn had won through to the First round proper of the FA Cup for the first time since the mid 1950s. We had been drawn against Notts County of the 4th Division and the excitement had been mounting for weeks. It was a bitterly cold snowy day, just right for giant killing and Ryan didn’t let us down. He scored the only goal to win the tie. We were the only non-league team to beat league opposition on the day and the crowd of over 6,000 was delighted. It was the first time Runcorn had reached the second round since pre-war when they played Preston North End. The scoreline did not really reflect Runcorn’s superiority as they had forced 16 corners to Notts County’s 2! Ryan became the hero of the hour with much press coverage of his goalscoring feats. Ryan was just 20 years of age and went on to score 66 goals that season, a remarkable achievement. Amazingly he had started as a goalkeeper playing for a local amateur side in his native Salford. He asked if he could play up front and that was the start of his scoring exploits. He scored 90 in his first season and 86 in the next. Although he had been noticed by Hyde Utd it was Jack Boothway who persuaded him to turn semi professional and signed him for Runcorn. Although he only spent one full season at the club his prolific goal scoring made him a Linnets Legend. Although scouts from all over flocked to watch him play, Ryan was never able to make his mark in the professional game. For the record it is perhaps interesting to note that although Ryan became the hero on that day it was centre half Dick Oxtoby who was actually awarded the man-of the–match. The Runcorn team on that day was:- Pendlebury; Stanley, Houghton (capt); Phoenix, Oxtoby, Denton, Tonge, Herring, Ryan, Moss, Bateson.

Ossie Smith, In another part of Linnets Legends I talked about Eddie Moss as probably one of the best footballers ever to wear the Runcorn shirt. Very close behind Moss would undoubtedly be Ossie Smith. I last met up with Ossie about 5 years ago at a social occasion in Frodsham and I had forgotten what a quiet unassuming person he was. And yet on the field he was undoubtedly a great player and leader. Who can ever forget that boundless energy and those surging runs. That right leg which appeared to be telescopic at times when he went into the tackle. Yes, Ossie was a firm favourite with the Runcorn fans. He joined Runcorn at the end of the 1978/79 season when John Williams took over as manager. Together with Ben Seddon, Ossie was one of John’s first signings. And what a signing he was! Within his first few weeks the team won the league cup at Maine Road, Manchester and the following 2 seasons saw unprecedented success with first the NPL title and the following season the Alliance League title. Ossie started his playing career as a junior with Manchester Utd. He played for Lancashire Boys as well as the English and British Universities side. He represented Britain in the World Student Games in Mexico in 1979. He was selected for the England Non-League squad in 1984. Ossie was a quantity surveyor by profession. The lasting memory of Ossie has to be his goal in the semi-final of the FA Trophy at Kettering in 1986. The first leg had been drawn 0 – 0 at Canal Stret and I remember walking off the ground with some Kettering fans who were ecstatic and convinced they were already at Wembley! We knew better. John William’s teams did not concede goals easily. We were met at Kettering with a hostile reception from their many fans in the stand but the team, and Smith in particular, were outstanding and his goal together with one by Dave Mather took us to Wembley. As well as the league titles and the first Wembley appearance for the club, Ossie captained the team to further successes in the Bob Lord Trophy (1982/83 and 1984/85) and the Cheshire Senior Cup (1984/85). Ossie Smith was an outstanding captain and a fine player. It is no coincidence that the club enjoyed so much success with John Williams in charge and Ossie as his captain. Here’s to another great Linnets Legend.

John Williams, John Williams was brought up in Market Drayton in Shropshire and played for the town team in the Shropshire County League. In the mid-fifties he joined the RAF and represented the full RAF side. After his national service he joined Everton as a full-time professional. He was later transferred to Crewe in the old Third Division North before joining Runcorn for a 5 year spell as a tricky left winger. His first managerial position was at Porthmadoc in the Welsh League. His four years there produced 2 league titles and a host of cups. Much of his success he put down to his band of “Scousers” such as Bobby Fraser, Jeff Forshaw and Stevie Joel. John then moved to Winsford, winning the league and two cups in his first season. That Winsford team included many players who became firm favourites at Runcorn. It was in March 1979 that John took over at Canal Street. Although in the lower reaches of the NPL, the team managed to win the League cup at Maine Road. John’s first notable signings were Ben Seddon and Ossie Smith. The following two seasons were perhaps the best ever in Runcorn’s history. The Northern Premier League was won by a mile and the following season the club went on to win the Alliance (which is now the Conference). John won a “Personality of the Season” award from Rothmans in 1982-83 and in the period between 1979 and 1984 Runcorn were top of the averages in the league table produced in the Non-League Year Book. John’s final season at the helm was capped by an appearance in the FA Trophy final at Wembley, although the large number of matches leading up to the final took its toll and the team finished Runners-up to Altrincham by 1 – 0. After the final John swapped positions with John King and took over at Altrincham but was sacked for the first time in his career soon into his second season. John then went back to the Welsh League with Rhyl. He still lives locally in Frodsham and has fond memories of his time at Runcorn both as a player and manager. When asked about his most exciting moment in football, John came up with the moment at Kettering in the FA Trophy semi-final when he realised we were on our way to Wembley. Few who were there that day will argue with that. Here’s to a great manager and a great man!

Steve Joel, In November 1981 Runcorn played at Turf Moor against Burnley in the FA Cup with about 2,000 Runcorn fans in glorious voice. Brian Parker had had an outstanding game in goal, keeping out everything Burnley could throw at him. Suddenly, with about 25 minutes to go, Steve Joel burst away down the middle and with his tremendous pace outstripped the Burnley defence. Was this to be our moment? I remember to this day sinking to my knees as Joel put the ball wide of the post and although the game ended up as a 0 – 0 draw we were to lose the replay, unluckily, 2 – 1. That moment perhaps summed up Steve Joel. He was born in October 1955 and was 5 feet 7 inches of pure pace. Sometimes he was almost too quick for himself! Not only did he possess outstanding pace but he also had one of the longest throws you could see in football. It was often better than a corner! I found a lovely article in the first Runcorn Fanzine called “Jolly Green Giants” produced in 1990 by Mark from Weston Point and John from Beechwood and I hope they won’t mind me reproducing it here for you! “Stevie Joel; 4′2″ winger with elasticated arms. No Canal Street regular will ever forget his amazing throw ins from one side of the ground to the other, or his ability to fall from the halfway line to just inside the penalty box. Only one word can sum him up – Absolute Genius!!!” ( © thanks for that lads!) Steve started as a 16 year old in Liverpool’s Lancashire League team but after a season moved to Marine who were then in the Cheshire League, Again he only stayed for a season before teaming up with John Williams at Porthmadoc. He had trials for Wrexham and also played for Bethesda before once again returning to Porthmadoc. He followed Williams to Winsford but when John became manager at Runcorn he soon brought Steve along too at the start of the 1980/81 season. Success was instant with the NPL title quickly followed by the winning of the Gola League, which is, of course, now the Conference. Perhaps looking back it is no surprise that a team that included Ossie Smith, Bobby Fraser and Steve Joel did so well. They were all at the top of their game when they arrived with Williams at Runcorn. In September 1984 Steve suffered a very serious leg injury at Leek Town in the FA Cup which kept him out of the game for months and all but finished his career. Steve Joel was on the fringes of the England Non – League team but was never selected. In many ways he probably never truly reached his full potential but there was no better sight in football than Joel when he was in full flight and because he was part of such a successful team he deserves to be included as a Linnets Legend.

Stan Storton, In the series so far we have looked at two former Runcorn managers, John Williams and player manager, Mark Carter. The third in our look back at Linnets Legends is Stan Storton. One of our main criteria for our legends has been the bringing of success to the club and Stan certainly came into that category. The Stortons originated in Keighley West Yorkshire, near to where I have spent all of my working life. Stan’s brother,Trevor, was until last season still managing in the Unibond League at Bradford PA, (although it was his successor who guided them through the play-offs into Conference North.) Stan started his playing career as an amateur with Huddersfield Town, where he won an England Youth cap. At 17 he signed as a professional for Bradford City, where he played for seven seasons prior to moving via Darlington and Hartlepool to Tranmere, where he played for four seasons. He then became player/coach and then manager at Ellesmere Port before joining the Linnets. Stan himself was a very successful manager, not just at Runcorn but at other top non-league clubs. He joined us in the latter part of 1972/73 and managed the club for six years until his departure in 1979. His time at the club was undoubtedly helped by his captain, Alan King, who we looked at in our last article. During Stan’s reign the Linnets were one step from Wembley on three occasions in the FA Trophy. Each time we were the better team, but lost to Stafford twice and to Altrincham. It seemed that we would never make it until at last John Williams took us there in 1986. Under his guidance, the Linnets supreme triumph was winning the Northern Premier League in 1975/76 (what a year that was, as my daughter was also born in the February!), the Cheshire Senior Cup was won in 1973/74 and 1974/75 and the NPL Challenge Cup was added to the list of honours in 1974/75. Stan had brought new success to the club. It was the first league championship since the Cheshire League in 1962/63 and only our fourth in total up to that time (although we did, of course, go on to win the NPL again in 1980/81 followed the next season by our greatest ever triumph of winning the Alliance Premier League, later to become the Conference.) Many of the players from that era feature in Linnets Legends – Peter Duff, Alan King, Barry Whitbread, Barry Howard to name just some who helped Stan achieve the success he did. When he left us, he briefly joined Bangor City and then Northwich until he beacame a very successful manager with Telford during the 1980s, in the days when they seemed to be giant killers every year in the FA Cup. Players such as Dave Mather Ken McKenna and Kevin Charlton were his stars. So Stan’s six year period of honours entitles him to be a Linnets Legend,

Barry Howard, Barry Howard joined the Linnets from Hyde Utd in 1972, having previously played as a junior for Oldham Athletic. He was born in Ashton-under-Lyne in February 1950. As you older fans will remember, Barry was a really quick left winger, 5′ 8″ and 11st 10oz, who also proved to be a great goalscorer. By profession he was a painter a decorator but became part of the legendary team that won the NPL title in 1976. Howard seemed to follow a tradition of left wingers at Canal Street, with Johnny Williams and Paddy Daly in the same mould. During his time with the Linnets, Barry was an extremely popular player and stayed with us until 1978. During that time, as well as the league title, he also collected winners medals for the Cheshire Senior Cup twice, in 1973/74 and 1974/75 and picked up a winners medal for the NPL Challenge Cup in 1974/75. Barry was also part of the team which so nearly reached Wembley during the 1970s. The same team knocked Southport out of the FA Cup in 1977 in the First Round proper and went on to play Hartlepool. In that 1975/76 championship season, the trio of Howard, Whitbread and Finnegan scored a total of 93 goals between them, with Barry Howard contributing 21 of those. The two Barrys later went on to play together for arch rivals Altrincham. Howard was always prepared to attack players and his best position was as a wide old-fashioned winger, able to cut in and shoot with either foot. Howard tried his luck briefly in the League with Stockport but was soon transferred to Altrincham in the summer of 1978 for a then record club fee of £3000! Barry was good enough to win seven caps for the England non-league team (although none of these in his spell at Runcorn) and ironically was named as one of the Non-League players of the season in 1981/82 for his performances at Altrincham, which was the season Runcorn won the Alliance! A great player in a great team, Barry deserves to be remembered as a Linnets Legend.

Barry Whitbread, Barry Whitbread will probably best be remembered as a player at Runcorn, even though he did have a spell in charge as manager between 1988 and 1990, when John King left us. As a student, Barry had attended Lancaster University and had played for Lancaster City through the 1972/73 season. He made himself quite a reputation as a goalscorer, having scored a hat trick on his debut for them. He also scored the opening goal in an FA Cup second round game at Notts County, who turned the tie around to win 2-1. This prompted interest from Runcorn who had to wait until the following season had started to finally get their man. His transfer to Canal Street was for the princely sum of £250! Barry trained to become a teacher, although he was later to become a coach at Liverpool's Academy, after spells coaching in the States and in charge of the Singapore National Team in the 1990s! (I suspect he is the only ex-Runcorn player to have gone on to manage a National team?). Interestingly, Barry's son Zak, was born in the USA and represented them at Under 20 level. Zak was also part of the Liverpool reserve team (at 6′ 3″ he is a bit bigger than his dad). Whitbread Jnr played almost 200 Football League games, finishing his career with Shrewsbury in 2015/16. More than half of those appearances, 103 in fact, were for Millwall before a switch of clubs took him to Norwich City for whom he played 44 times in the EFL. Barry did not have the greatest success with the Singapore team and a glance at their website back in the late 1990s showed the pressure he was under: "The man under fire is National Team coach, Barry Whitbread. The team cannot seem to be able to attack, let alone score goals under his charge"! That was not a problem Whitbread had during his career at Runcorn, and indeed he went on to make six appearances in total for the England non-League team. For most of his time at Runcorn, Barry was amongst the goals and was eventually transferred to Altrincham in October 1979 making him the club's costliest player at that time. (What with Barry Howard, Barry Whitbread, Mal Bailey to name but three, there were lots of players over the years who played for both Runcorn and Alty. The clubs even swapped managers after the 1986 FA Trophy Final!!). In the championship winning side of 1975/76, Whitbread scored a creditable 29 goals but that season he was pipped to the "golden boot" award by Trevor Finnigan, who scored an amazing 43 goals. One of Whitbread's memorable goals was in FA Cup replay in November 1977 when he headed the only goal in a replay against Southport to take the Linnets into the second round against Hartlepool. Watched by a crowd of 5,156 at Canal Street, the match generated record gate receipts at that time of almost £3,500. Yet perhaps it is a match when he played for Altrincham against the Linnets at Canal Street which most sticks in the fans minds. Alty were winning 4-2 with 10 minutes to go and Whitbread had scored all four and yet he still ended up on the losing side, as the Linnets made a stunning come-back to score three in the last few minutes and win 5-4! As manager he did take Runcorn up to third in the league but he was unable to sustain the success. So it is as a player that we remember Barry Whitbread as a Linnets Legend. We are most grateful to Fr. Anthony Keefe from Carnforth for clarifying details of Barry's spell with Lancaster City, enabling this article to be updated in January 2022.

Jack Boothway, When I first started watching Runcorn back in the 1950s, George Vose was the manager, but the first manager I really remember was Cyril Lello. Lello was an ex Everton player and at that time, non-league teams were very often made up of ex league players coming toward the end of their careers, and that was the case with his teams. In 1961, however, Lello was succeeded by Jack Boothway, Runcorn's longest serving post-war manager. Boothway was born in Manchester in 1919 and played amateur football for Rusholme and Sedgeley Park. He was spotted by Mossley and invited to play there in 1938/39 just pre-war. During the war he had a spell with Manchester City as a rugged centre forward. After the war, he joined Crewe Alex for a season before moving on to Wrexham for three seasons. He eventually ended his playing career back at Mossley. It was here that he also took his first manager's job before moving on to Northwich. He came to Runcorn in 1961 and remained until 1969, making Jack the longest serving manager since the war (and possibly of all time?). Jack built a team around players from the Manchester area and by season 1962/62 had brought the first post-war league title to the Linnets, when we won the old Cheshire League championship easily beating Buxton into second place, with the highest points total since 1950/51, when Rhyl had won the league. Records had tumbled – the first 17 games without defeat, just one defeat in the first 30 games, and only 3 defeats in the whole season! The team remained undefeated at home in the League, only Borough Utd won at Canal Street in the FA Cup! The players themselves became Linnets Legends – Moss and Foster, with almost 60 goals between them, and Jock Cunningham to name but three. To the league title were added the Cheshire Senior Cup in 1961/62 and again in 1964/65. Jack Boothway sadly died in 1979 aged just 60. In a letter I received last year from Jim Cumbes, he recalls Jack as " a wonderful character, as was Freddie Pye, who later went on to the Board of Manchester City" (Pye was also, of course, manager at Altrincham). Perhaps there were more "characters" around in those days. Looking back it certainly seems that way. So thanks for the memories, Jack.

Alan Foster, Older Runcorn fans will remember this Linnets Legend as part of a double act. It is always difficult to think of Alan Foster without reference to Eddie Moss, who was one of our earlier Legends. If Moss was the provider, then Foster was most definitely the goal scorer. Foster was a 6′0″centre forward. He was born in the North East in South Shield in County Durham but lived in Warrington. He was a well known amateur player with Stockton Heath and Crook Town in his native North East, and had played for them in the old FA Amateur Cup. He played with Northwich before signing as a professional for Crewe, where he made 17 first-team appearances and scored 7 goals. By profession he was a surveyor and also enjoyed playing cricket. Foster burst onto the Canal Street scene in season 1961/62, scoring an excellent 48 goals in his first season. Under Jack Boothway and with Eddie Moss at his side Foster scored almost 40 goals the next season as he helped the Linnets to their first post-war League title, the Cheshire League. Many records fell along the way, as we have mentioned in previous articles on Linnets Legends, the most notable being undefeated at home in the League. The Supporters Club produced a Souvenir Programme in May 1963 to celebrate the winning of the title and the following was taken from that programme: “ Few will forget the memorable Monday evening in April (1963) when the then challengers Stalybridge Celtic came to Canal Street. With two reserves in the team, Runcorn’s task was redoubtable, but with a brilliant first half display and two goals from Alan Foster, Celtic’s threat was squashed before the end”. The away match at Bower Fold followed soon afterwards and again the Linnets proved victorious by 4 – 1 with Moss scoring 2 and Foster another, together with one by Fred Stewart. The Linnets have had many great goal scorers over the years with Search, Ryan, Finnegan, Whitbread and Carter but Alan Foster would be right up there alongside them all. Foster moved on during the 1963/64 season, a bit of a shock as another Linnet to join Altrincham! (The reported fee was £500!). In truth Foster’s form had dipped at that time. He did return for a spell in 1966/67. In his time with us he won a championship medal and a Cheshire Senior Cup winners medal. His successor was Alan Ryan, so the goals didn’t dry up when Foster left for good! For his goals and his contribution to that championship winning team, the fans quite rightly acknowledge Alan Foster as a Linnets Legend.

Jock Cunningham, The Linnets have rarely had brothers playing in the same team over the years, but in Jock and Cas Cunningham they had two good ones. We always talk about Jock and Cas but in fact their correct names were Saunders and Carswell! They were two gritty Scotsmen and it is Jock I chose as a Linnets Legend because to me he epitomized the typical old-fashioned center half, tough, uncompromising and the type of player who would run through a brick wall! Talking of which, I remember one match many years ago at our beloved Canal Street (I’m sure somebody will tell me who we were playing) when Jock went headlong into the concrete wall which surrounded the pitch in those days. If my memory serves me right it was over on the popular side. I remember the thud as he hit the wall head first and fully expected to see him stretchered off. But not Jock! He got up, shook himself down and got on with the game! Legends are made at moments like that. I mentioned in an earlier article that I had the pleasure of speaking to him at a reunion of old players some years ago and am now the proud owner of his club tie from the Cheshire Senior Cup Final of April 7th 1962, my first ever Cup Final! Jock was the skipper of that side which played in the Final at Gresty Road, Crewe. This was only the third time the club had reached the Final, so it was a big occasion with a very large following from Runcorn and the team did not disappoint with a 2 – 1 victory against Hyde Utd, although when we returned the following year we lost for the first time in a Senior Cup Final against the same team by 3 – 1. Indeed Jock was still going strong when we yet again reached the Final in 1965 (The Cumbes Final) which we won after a replay. Jock was the rock upon which Jack Boothway built his successful team of the 1960s and of course the pinnacle of that success was winning the Cheshire League Championship in 1963. Cunningham, Foster, Moss, Pendlebury, all Linnets Legends in the team that Jack built. Jock was born in Stonehouse in Lanarkshire but lived at that time in Altrincham. He had played for Linotype and Alty and had been captain of the Cheshire Amateur side. At one time he was on the Arsenal’s books. He joined the club in 1961 and was made skipper on 30th September that year. If ever the club had a skipper who led by example this was your man. He stayed with the club during that successful period in the 1960s, finally leaving in 1966. I think he ranks as my favourite defender and a true Linnets Legend.

Bobby Fraser, Bobby Fraser had many of the traits that made Jock Cunningham, he was strong, uncompromising but most Linnets fans will remember Bobby for his ability in the air. He was an excellent header of the ball. Bobby Fraser started his career with Runcorn during the John Williams era. He joined us in 1980 from Winsford, one of the band of players who had played there under Williams. He started life as a centre forward but will probably be remembered best as a quality centre half. Born in Liverpool in June 1960, Fraser was 6¡ä0¡å and 12st 7lbs. He had played for Liverpool as a youngster and had also been at Tranmere, Porthmadoc before moving to Winsford with Williams. So by the time he came to Canal Street, Fraser was to prove to be the foundation of Williams¡¯ team which had such huge success in the 1980s. During his time at the club, Fraser won the NPL Championship and the Alliance Premier League, was a beaten Finalist in the FA Trophy at Wembley,received 2 winners medals in the Cheshire Senior Cup and in the Bob Lord Trophy! Quite a collection and no wonder he is recognized as a Linnets Legend. I remember the outstanding performances he had in the two legged semi ¨C finals of the FA Trophy against Kettering. We drew the first leg 0 ¨C 0 at home and I remember the elation of the Kettering fans as we walked off Canal Street. They thought they had done the hard work. But we knew that John Williams teams did not concede goals easily with players like Fraser at the heart of the defence and goals by Ossie Smith and Dave Mather on that unforgettable day down at Kettering saw us reach our first Wembley Final after all the heartache of 3 semi ¨C finals during the 1970s. What a shame Fraser couldn¡¯t finish his career at Runcorn with an FA Trophy winners medal. But it wasn¡¯t to be as we lost the final 1 ¨C 0 to Altrincham, having played a huge number of games to catch up in the league during the run up to the Final. Soon after that Final the clubs swapped managers with Williams going to Altrincham and John King coming to us. Inevitably Williams took Fraser with him at the end of that 1985/86 season. But his record at Runcorn together with his manager had been remarkable at it is for that reason we recognize Bobby Fraser as a true Linnets Legend.

Ray Mcbride, Ray McBride is the third goalkeeper to feature in our series after Jimmy Cumbes and Brian Pendlebury. McBride was a 6ft 2inch keeper who had played his football in the West Cheshire League for clubs such as Vauxhall (yes, they were a West Cheshire League team once!), Port Sunlight and Christleton. He was apparently no mean centre forward either in his early playing days! He was born in Bromborough in November 1955 and signed for the Linnets in 1984, taking over from Brian Parker as regular first choice keeper at the start of season 1984/85. Amazing to think that Ray was 28 years old before he came into top non ¨C league football. His contribution to the team reaching Wembley in 1986 was immense. McBride only conceded one goal on the way to that Final and that was in the quarter finals against Kidderminster. Clean sheets were kept at home against Marine in the first round, then at Windsor and Eton in round 2. Then came a home tie with Burton Albion and yet another clean sheet. Only in the quarter final away at Aggborough, home of Kidderminster, did we finally concede a goal, but two more clean sheets against Kettering in the semi ¨C finals ensured our place in the final. McBride gave great service to the club for six years until he was finally succeeded by Arthur Williams in 1990. During his time at the club, McBride was part of 5 Cheshire Senior Cup successes between 1984 and 1989 as well as winning the Bob Lord Trophy in 1984/85 and the Gola League Championship Shield. Over the years, the Linnets have been fortunate to have had some excellent goalkeepers and in the eyes of many fans, McBride would be up there amongst the best. He was, of course, the first goalkeeper ever to play for us at Wembley but was never a part of a championship winning team. Like all goalkeepers, he was capable of the odd blunder but my overriding memories of Ray McBride are of a good solid keeper, who was popular with the fans and gave great service to the club. It is often the strikers in football who win all the plaudits but during this series, we have tried to recognize all those players who have contributed that little bit more to the cause over the years and I have no hesitation in putting McBride into that category of players who have the right to be remembered as Linnets Legends.

Ian Woan, To many fans over recent years, Ian Woan would probably stand out as the most outstanding player the club as had and certainly the one who went on to achieve success at the highest level when he left us to go to Nottingham Forest, at that time one of the top teams in the country. Woan was renowned for his passing ability and his sweet left foot. How many of us could ever forget his winner against Wivenhoe in a 2nd round FA Trophy replay in February 1990, fighting back from a deficit to win 3 – 2 against a very spirited team. The early games at Runcorn were not a true reflection of what was to come as Woan found it difficult to settle in the team but slowly we came to realise what a talent we had unearthed as that famous left foot started to spray passes all over the field and scouts started to flood to Canal Street to weigh up the potential of this new star. Woan started to ease himself into the team as a substitute at the start of season 1989/1990 under the guidance of the then Linnets manager Barry Whitbread, having signed from HFS League team Newton that summer. Woan was born in Heswall in December 1967 and was a 5′ 10″ midfielder. As we have said in previous issues Linnets Legends come about for all kinds of reasons and Ian Woan is a classic example of that. He only actually played 36 games for us with 3 of those as substitute. In that time, he scored 14 goals, 11 in the League and 3 in the FA Trophy and helped the team to a top three finish in the Conference behind Darlington and Barnet. But his ability attracted attention from lots of League clubs and it is reputed that Woan was on his way to sign for Bournemouth when Brian Clough decided to take an interest at Nottingham Forest and Woan went there instead for a reputed fee of £80,000. Clough had never even seen him play but had had good reports about him from the scouts. According to the Forest Legends site, he was one of their best ever bargains and was unlucky to miss out on England recognition! He enjoyed a successful career at Forest and fans continued to keep an eye on his progress as the transfer agreement included a 33% sell on clause. It was reported at one time that Woan was on his way to Spurs for a fee of £3 million but the deal never materialised. If only!! His final appearance for the Linnets was on 3 March 1990 against Enfield. But what a way to go, a staggering 9 – 0 victory, with Mick Doherty scoring 5 of the goals that day! He went on to make 218 appearances for Forest in the next 10 years, including games in Europe, and scoring 31 goals. As his career drew to a close he spent time at Barnsley and Swindon before playing in the States for Columbus Crew. In season 2002/03 he made 50 appearances for Shrewsbury scoring 7 goals before returning to the States to play for Syracuse Salty Dogs. He then returned to the UK and took up a postition as Youth team coach at Swindon. After working with Rushden and Diamonds he then returned to Forest as a youth coach before joining Portsmouth in 2007, where he went from working with the under-18s to first-team coach under former Burnley boss Steve Cotterill. Woan then joined Watford as assistant to Dyche in June, 2011, spending 12 months at Vicarage Road before following Dyche to Burnley FC in October 2012.

Gary Brabin, No series on Linnets Legends could be complete without one of the club’s characters. Occasionally in a club’s history, a player arrives who captures the hearts of the fans and Gary Brabin was one such player. Brabs holds a special place in the hearts of the Runcorn fans, not because he was necessarily one of the best players we ever had, but because he was a character and all teams need players like him. Gary joined the Linnets from Gateshead and he had also had a spell at Stockport County. In programme notes, he was always described as extrovert and enthusiastic. He was a runner up twice with the Linnets in FA Trophy finals at Wembley in 1993, when we were defeated by Martin O’Neill’s Wycombe Wanderers and the following year when we were desperately unlucky to lose 2 – 1 to Woking. Although he started life as a midfield player, Brabs was equally at home as a centre back, especially as he was so good in the air. He was the type of player who would always attack the ball and never knew when he was beaten. Inevitably with players like Gary he had his fair share of cards, yellow and red. He had joined us as a 21 year old from the North East team in 1991/92 season, although Gary was actually from the Liverpool area, a typical Scouser, larger than life and utterly likeable. I remember him scoring a goal at Witton from some preposterous distance and the celebration that went with it. Gary was born in Liverpool in December 1970 and was at one time a night club bouncer! Gary kept us going at a time when the fates seemed to be against us in what was probably the worst period in the club’s history with the Hull fans wrecking a perimeter wall and then the main stand burning down, forcing us to move away from our beloved Canal Street ground. The semi final home leg against Guiseley in 1994 had to be played at Chester and Gary was unfortunately sent off in that match for two bookable offences. But despite that the Linnets came through with a magnificent header from Kenny McKenna in the final minute of extra time at Guiseley in the second leg. Gary moved on after the second Wembley appearance and only recently has he had to give up playing due to a heart condition after a spell at TNS. He represented the England non league team and played for a host of League teams when he left the Linnets, including Torquay, Hull (!), Blackpool and Bury amongst others. Gary was a true Linnets Legend and we wish him luck in the future. Jack Search When we talk about legends at football clubs we usually mean players who have been an important part of the club’s history, so surely no one group of players has earned that right more than the famous team which is now part of Linnet’s folklore which took on the existing cup – holders Preston North End at Canal Street on 7th January 1939 and in that team was the one man who more than any other in the history of this club since 1918 has earned the right to be the all – time Linnets Legend, Jack Search. The team pictured above was the one that took on a Preston side including the late great Bill Shankly and were not disgraced in a 4 – 2 defeat. The team was as follows: Back row: P Lowe (Secretary) J Foxley, F Lightfoot, T Houghton, K Long, G Thomas, J Ashcroft, E Shaw (Trainer) J Dunn Front row: J Mayson, F Fitton, R. Williams (capt) Jack Search, L Fletcher, W Buckley The referee for the game was Mr C Carwell The amazing thing about Jack Search is that he has become a Legend even to those who never saw him play. As with all folklore it is by word of mouth over the generations that Search received this status. As a youngster growing up in Runcorn I soon became hooked on the Linnets in the early 1950s and it was not long before my dad was telling me about this giant of a centre forward we used to have, who seemed to score goals for fun. Jack was 6′ 4″ and a true amateur in every sense of the word. He remained an amateur throughout his career despite trials with Liverpool and a reputed offer from Arsenal of £7,000 for his signature which he turned down. I wonder how that fee would equate to today’s fees? I am fortunate in my autograph collection to have the autograph of one of Jack’s Cheshire league contemporaries in Don Spendlove, who used to play for Rhyl, and between them they scored over 1,000 Cheshire League goals! It was his reputation for sportsmanship which seemed to earn Search so much praise, as well as his goal scoring prowess. His heading ability made him a feared striker throughout the non – league world.What a shame that the war years interrupted his playing career. We will never know just how many goals he might have scored! Jack served his country in North Africa as a lieutenant – colonel but did resume his career after the war for a while. Because he had remained as an amateur Jack also worked and was employed as a salesman by the Liverpool Gas Company. After his playing career was over, he became a Director for many years at Everton Football Club and at that time renewed his acquaintance with Bill Shankly, and they became good friends. Runcorn had two cinemas in those days, the Empress and the Scala and highlights of the match were shown for six days at both cinemas! The directors of the club had had to make a big decision to play the match at Canal Street but were rewarded with the all – time record gate of 10,111 which stood until we had to leave our home. Interesting to note that the programme on that day cost 2d (for our younger fans that is two old pence) It is a fitting end to this series on Linnets Legends that we are able to look back to Jack Search and the players who took on the Cup holders way back in 1939. I am sure that some of your favourites will have featured along the way and that others will be missing. If you feel that others should be included in the list, please contact me and I will try to research them for next season. The Legends also now appear on the Linnets website so if you missed any have a look on there. And here is a reminder of the 21 players and managers we have featured throughout the season: John Williams, Eddie Moss, Ossie Smith, Alan Ryan, Jimmy Cumbes, Mark Carter, Brian Pendlebury, Steve Joel, Peter Duff, Alan King, Stan Storton, Barry Howard, Barry Whitbread, Jack Boothway, Alan Foster, Jock Cunningham, Bobby Fraser, Ray McBride, Ian Woan, Gary Brabin and finally Jack Search I hasten to add that they were presented in no kind of order of merit but it would be nice to have feed back from fans as to who you think have been the greatest Linnets Legends. I hope you have enjoyed reading the series, I have certainly enjoyed compiling it. All the best Derek G

Norman Brown, We are delighted that this section has been contributed by Lewis Brown, who is the grandson of Norman and we are delighted to add “Nongie” to the Linnets Legends Norman Brown joined the Linnets in 1946, and was one of Runcorn Football Club's most prominent and popular players in the 1940s and 50s. He joined the Linnets after being demobbed from the Royal Navy and having a short spell with the newly-formed ex-service men's team, which played at Percival Lane and later became Runcorn Athletic. He had served in the Far East and always remembered spending Christmas 1945 in Sydney - because he hadn’t been allowed off the ship! Although interesting bigger clubs on his return to civilian life , he opted on a football post close to home. " I’ve been away for long enough", he said. Norman affectionately known to the supporters as "Nongie", was to stay at Canal Street for 12 years and made the Number seven shirt his own. His crowd-pleasing talents on the right wing were undoubted - especially playing down the slope and not only earned the respect of his contemporaries in the high standard of The Cheshire County League, but also continued to impress the scouts. Runcorn were attracting 1500 - 2000 attendances - considerably more for derby games against Northwich Victoria and Ellesmere Port. Bill Nicholson, at the time with Tottenham Hotspur, was among those to run the rule over the diminutive right-winger. The White Hart Lane boss said: “He certainly had the skill but was probably a few inches too short to step up to the professional game. Norman was known as a pacey winger with great skill, and the fans would always know whether he was going to have a good game, because he would roll his sleeves up! "Nongie" also had loan spells at Crewe, Wrexham and Middlesbrough for a permanent deal, which he turned down. After Norman finished playing football, he played other sports such as boxing, cricket and was a qualified electrician, but he was further known for his great skill at crown green bowling. He played for Runcorn Memorial and the Grapes Inn. Norman was a well known person around Runcorn for his great sporting achievements but the one for him was Runcorn Linnets! He turned down professional football for them, which showed his great commitment to the club!

Trevor Finnigan, Trevor Finnigan was a Runcorn player for just less than two seasons but made himself a cult hero of supporters, not least for his scoring exploits in the 1975-76 season which went a long way to securing the first of the club’s two Northern Premier League titles. Although prolific strike partner Barry Whitbread produced the coup de grace with the goal in the title-clinching 1-0 victory over visiting Wigan Athletic, Finnigan had already secured his place in Canal Street folklore. At a time when the professional game had many great entertainers, Finnigan was with his long straggly hair and socks around the ankles something of an extrovert on the field and a character off it too. Stories of him playing in away games and not returning home until the following day are legendary! At 6ft 2in tall and 22 years old when he signed, he was the tallest and youngest of Runcorn’s renowned and redoubtable attack completed by Whitbread and winger Barry Howard – a contrasting if complimentary combination if there ever was one. Finnigan was born in Bedlington in the North East on October 14.1952. He joined Everton as an 18-year old although it was from New Brighton that he was recruited by Linnets manager Stan Storton. The impact the player made no doubt had a bearing on another of the club’s characters of that era, veteran forward Johnny Worth, taking his leave. Finnigan had scored more than 50 goals in two seasons at New Brighton and a hat-trick on NPL debut against arch rivals Altrincham, Runcorn's third game of the 75-76 season, inevitably endeared him to the Canal Street faithful. In the Linnets’ programme for the September 6 ‘75 clash against Great Harwood, it was noted: "Stealing the thunder in non-league soccer this last two weeks has been Trevor Finnegan (sic)."..."'He knows where the net is’ was the remark Stan (Storton) made and this has proved to be true with six goals in his first three games." Going onto hit 34 goals in his maiden season at Runcorn. Finnigan boasted among them a spectacular long-range goal in the FA Trophy quarter-final win at Bedford Town. But Wembley hopes were to be scuppered when he was sent off in the home return leg of the semi-final against Stafford Rangers. After a 1-0 defeat in the away match at Marston Road, Runcorn's valiant 10 men were held to a 0-0 draw in front of a 6,217 crowd. The reason for Finnigan's dismissal is still unclear in the minds of many Runcorn fans but it was the first in a series of disasters, which blighted the club's ‘70s assault on the twin towers and brought three heartbreaking defeats at the last-four stage. Finnigan departed Runcorn for the bright lights of Blackpool. The Runcorn programme for the game against Lancaster City on March 22 1977 reported: "Trevor Finnigan was transferred to Blackpool last week - the deal being negotiated on behalf of the Blackpool club by vice chairman Bill Gregson and manager Alan Brown, who have been regular visitors to Canal Street this season. We wish Trevor the best of luck with his new club as a full-time professional and hope he is soon amongst the goals.” The links forged between the Linnets and Bloomfield Road led to Blackpool, who had narrowly missed going up to Division One (then the top division of English football), after finishing fourth to the three promoted clubs, led to Finnigan promptly returning to town with his new club for ex-team-mate Howard's testimonial match on Monday, May 23 1977. Finnigan's stay on the Fylde coast proved to be short - limited to 13 starts plus four further substitute appearances. The player was transferred to Bournemouth in January 1978 - producing five goals in 23 (+2 sub) games - before returning to non-league . Two spells at Yeovil were sandwiched by a stint at Weymouth, who had signed him for £5,000. The player was to turn out against Runcorn in the Alliance Premier League for both the Glovers and Terras, where his career records were as follows: Yeovil 1979-80 36 appearances (nine goals) 1983-84 40 appearances + one sub (seven goals) Weymouth 1980-83 97+4 appearances (25 goals) Finnigan had begun his second spell at Yeovil as player-manager before reverting to purely a playing role. By this time, he was just as likely to be seen in midfield as up front. On leaving Huish, he returned to Dorset to finish his career with Lyme Regis. In 1981, while with Weymouth, Finnigan had been twice capped by England at semi-professional level – playing in a 2-0 defeat of Holland and 0-0 draw with Scotland, both these matches being staged in Italy. His national team contemporaries included Whitbread and Howard, who had by then both joined Altrincham, and future Runcorn players John Davison (also Altrincham) and Scarborough’s Colin Williams. The website reveals Finnigan is now in Germany, working in the fibre optics industry. But where ever he may roam, one thing is for certain – Finnigan will always be remembered by those fortunate enough to have seen him play in the yellow and green of Runcorn.

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