Who are Runcorn?
Let’s not be too self-indulgent too soon, however. Long before our history-making was on the agenda, the Linnets’ story gets up and running back in 1918 as Highfield and Camden Tanneries Recreation Club. It only took a year for ’em to shake the long-winded name and go with something much simpler; taking the new ‘Runcorn Football Club’ into the Cheshire League and winning the title at a canter in their first campaign. League-mates at that time included such luminaries as Northwich, Alty and Tranmere Rovers too.
In those interwar years, the Linnets claimed a total of three Cheshire League titles; adding a fourth in a slightly rejigged 1939-40 season. The stretch after World War Two wasn’t that fruitful, however. It wasn’t until the 1962-3 campaign that a fifth Cheshire League title went into their record books. Five years later and the relationship with the competition was over; Runcorn becoming one of the founder members of the Northern Premier League.
It was a step change that yielded two league titles; the first by a single point from Stafford Rangers in 1976 and the second by a distance in 1981. That second had a bigger impact, though, because it meant joining up with the creme de menthe of the non-league world in the Alliance Premier League. And they wasted no time in making themselves known; the 1981-2 campaign marking the high water mark of the club’s history with yet another title.
Why do we know Runcorn?
It wasn’t even the rubbish election system that stood firm in the Linnets’ way of becoming a Football League club. Well, it sort of was – they didn’t meet the requirements to even be considered for election. By the time automatic promotion from the now-called Conference came into effect in 1987, they were falling a long way short of the champions who’d go on to benefit. Not that they were particularly struggling; the 1989-90 campaign saw them end the season in third – but 17 points behind champions Darlington.
Unable to land a blow on those at the summit, Runcorn’s fortunes looked as if they were fading. The 1992-3 GM Vauxhall Conference season saw them survive by one point. Not down and not yet out, they roared back to fifth position next season and had momentum on their side as we stuck our heads above the Diadora League parapet and entered non-league showbiz in 1994. The Linnets were one of the teams who’d give us a real idea of where we were at. And it turns out they wouldn’t be taking any prisoners first time out.