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29 Nov 2017 : Tributes paid to Linnets Trust pioneer Simon Charlesworth before Bootle victory

by Dave Bettley, Trust secretary

A minutes applause was held before the home game against Bootle FC in memory of Simon Charlesworth, but also in appreciation of his contribution to Runcorn Linnets.

Simon, who has died suddenly, aged 51, was an instigator of the Linnets Independent Supporters Trust (LIST) which was formed with a view to saving Runcorn AFC and securing greater fan representation in the running of the former club.

Although these attempts ultimately failed, the Trust was in 2006 successfully remodelled to facilitate the formation of the new supporter-owned club we have, and all love, today. This is Simon's legacy.

No-one was more delighted than Simon to see all his hard work come to fruition when, in August of that year, the team took the field for our first competitive fixture at Ashton Town; nor when we 'returned' to play in the town four years later.

A lifelong Linnets fan, Simon's initial involvement had been with the old club as a match steward at Canal Street. He was fastidious in this and indeed all the club roles and positions he had held since.

So fastidious, in fact, that as part of his stewarding duties he would insist on standing in the same place by the main stand - right underneath the gutter, which soon overflowed in heavy rain. Simon would invariably end up getting soaked!

He has served Runcorn Linnets as secretary and assistant secretary of the Trust; as first point of match day contact for our fans as a turnstile operator and as a Travel Club organiser.

Most recently, he had volunteered to sell tickets in our game day raffle. He was also a regular match sponsor.

Simon had endured a long and sustained period of serious health problems but this did not deter him from supporting and following his beloved team when ever possible.

Six weeks ago, he made the long trip to Newcastle for our first round FA Vase tie at Team Northumbria, joining the Left Side Ultras in their minibus. True to form, he approached me during the game to say he wanted to put forward some proposals regarding the future running of the Trust.

Realising, from personal experience, the workload this would involve he said that he wouldn't saddle me with it for our forthcoming AGM.

Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what Simon was venturing to suggest.

His last appearance at The Millbank came for the last round of the Vase against Sunderland RCA earlier this month. His death came as a shock to us all.

Simon had a wicked grin and a self-styled sense of humour.

He was also very political in every sense.

He stood for election to Halton Borough Council and had his run-ins with the authorities and even, within our own organisation, the Trust Board. But he had the club and community very much at heart.

It will be very strange not to encounter Simon in the Shopping City, on the streets walking his dog or more regularly during games when he would politely ask, in hushed tones, if he could 'have a word' or 'ask a question'.

We send our sincere condolences to his wife Julie and the family in the hope that the many warm tributes that have been paid to Simon on social media will bring some comfort.

There have been messages from league officials, fellow clubs, former Linnets managers and current players as well as from the club and most importantly Runcorn supporters, who considered Simon as 'One of our own'.

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