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Linnets Legends - 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:
1979-80 36 appearances (nine goals)
1983-84 40 appearances + one sub (seven goals)
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 www.where-are-they-now.co.uk 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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