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Recruitment drive as Under 21s return for new season

Runcorn Linnets are excited to confirm the relaunch of our Under 21s men's team for the 2024-25 campaign.

It was always the intention for the Development team to return after the reluctant decision last summer to suspend activities.

The team has been accepted into the North West U21s Development League with open trials taking place next month.

They will operate in the Championship, its second tier, alongside clubs including Southport, Hyde United, Bury and Fleetwood Town (International Football Academy).

Runcorn Linnets U21s will be managed by Ste Ellams, who was in charge of last season's Linnets Under 18s boys youth team, having successfully managed club teams at every age group from Under 7s.

Pictured above, he is an FA level I and II coach, who holds a UEFA C licence and is working towards UEFA B.

Ellams last season steered the Cheshire Schoolboys Under 16s team to the National Cup final.

He will be assisted by Daryl Evans, who managed Linnets Under 12s boys to Cup glory in the 2023-24 Belle Vale & District Junior League - having gained good experience as a Cheshire County player, whose senior clubs included Runcorn Town, Helsby and Halton FC (formerly General Chemicals).

Our new U21s coach John Harrison doubles as first-team manager at Helsby FC, after masterminding their climb in the last four years from West Cheshire League Division Three to Division One.

They are also the Runcorn & District FA Saturday Cup holders.

Manager Ste Ellams said that despite their official individual roles, the managerial and coaching trio will operate very much as a team without any seniority.

Asked about ambitions for the season, he said: "First of all promotion and the big one is I want to get players into the first team".

It's a pathway, which has already been trodden by Eden Gumbs, Adam Moseley and Alex Jones, who have all featured in the club's senior men's side over recent seasons.

The NW U21s League is for players who are Under 21 on August 31st this year - the season kicks off on September 1st.

However, up to seven over-age players are allowed in the squad with three taking to the field at any one time.

This will enable first team players to turn out in the U21s as and when required.

Manager Ellams admitted that there will be some synchronisation between the two club teams in terms of playing styles.

The U21s manager has been greatly impressed by new first team boss Antony Kay's plans.

"He has spoken to me about how he wants to play," said Ellams.

"I'm not going to say we'll be a carbon copy as that would be pretty poor from us. But we are certainly going to respect that and perhaps put our own spin on it.

"We'll use a template of how the first team plays and have our own input."

All matches are played on Sundays, kick off 2pm, with the reborn U21s men dovetailing with the Linnets Ladies team by using the stadium pitch in alternate weeks.

U21s shirt sponsorship has been secured from KKS Property Services with other deals pending to help with operating costs in a competitive and widespread 18-team division.

Other destinations already familiar to Linnets, thanks to first team commitments past or present, include Abbey Hey, Chadderton, Atherton Laburnum Rovers, FC United of Manchester, Nantwich Town and Kidsgrove Athletic.

Ellams envisages four pre-season fixtures for the U21s, including a home friendly against opponents still to be confirmed, on Sunday, August 18th.

But before then, there will be open trials on three successive Thursdays from July 4th to 18th inclusive  (7pm-8.30pm).

Any interested players should contact manager Ste Ellams in advance by e-mail at or telephone 07802631784

IN THE DUGOUT: Coach John Harrison, manager Ste Ellams and assistant boss Daryl Evans take the Under 21s hotseats.

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