15 Dec 2019 : Linnets Legend John Williams donates his national title winners trophy to club
A special moment was captured on the meeting of two title-winning Linnets managers for an historic trophy presentation.
John Williams, who led Runcorn AFC to two successive championships in the early 1980s, was guest of honour at Runcorn Linnets' 2-1 victory over Trafford on Saturday.
In a terrific gesture, much appreciated by all at The Millbank Linnets Stadium, John handed the most treasured memento of his time at Canal Street - the trophy he received for winning the Alliance Premier League (now National League) in 1981-82 - into the club's safekeeping.
Accepting the special souvenir of the original Linnets' final title win was RLFC boss Michael Ellison, who orchestrated the successor club's first championship triumph - winning the North West Counties League Premier Division in 2017-18.
Although managing the Linnets in very different times, John and 'Ello' also share a bond of becoming manager on the back of long service as Runcorn players.
A tricky left winger, John spent five years at Runcorn AFC in two spells in the late 1950s and early '60s.
Former club captain and midfield anchorman 'Ello' has been with Runcorn Linnets since 2011 and with more than 200 appearances under his belt, he was appointed manager in summer 2016.
NWCL title success and promotion to the Northern Premier League followed three runners-up finishes for Ello as player and manager.
John Williams' first championship triumph at Runcorn was also in the NPL - then operating with just one division - in 1980-81.
His impressive haul of Runcorn managerial honours also included two wins each in the NPL Challenge Cup, NPL Challenge Shield, Bob Lord Trophy (The APL/Gola League Cup), APL/Gola League Challenge Shield and Cheshire Senior Cup.
He led the Linnets to the first of their three Wembley visits in 1986 for the FA Trophy final.
John was accompanied to the MLS by son Nigel, now living in Hong Kong but back in the UK for Christmas.
Their nostalgic visit had been arranged with the club by John's wife, Rena - the couple being particularly keen for Runcorn Linnets, formed by supporters of Runcorn AFC, to take possession of the keepsake trophy for perpetuity.
John said: "It was an amazing time in the history of the club and we think it would be better kept by the Linnets to allow new generations of supporters to see it and older supporters to remember that fantastic season."
Dave Bettley, Trust secretary of Runcorn Linnets, said: "John Williams achieved unprecedented success as manager of our predecessor club, setting a remarkable record of trophy wins. This only cemented the popularity he had enjoyed as a player at Canal Street and made him a true Linnets Legend.
"It was fantastic to see both John and Nigel again and we are extremely proud to gratefully accept this unique memento of a golden era in Linnets history."
The photo shows, left to right, Runcorn Linnets chairman Mike Bignall, manager Michael Ellison, John Williams, Runcorn Linnets club president Alan Jones, Peter Goodwin (former Runcorn AFC trainer) and Nigel Williams.
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