Linnets Legends - 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.
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