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09 May 2017 : Danny O'Brien and Michael Simpson will be back next season

Two players contesting the right back position at Runcorn Linnets have again thrown their hats into the ring for the 2017-18 campaign.

Danny O'Brien and Michael Simpson are both integral parts of manager Michael Ellison's plans.

Not only are they are accomplished full backs but they are just as comfortable in midfield.

It was as a holding player in the centre of the park that Danny joined the club last summer from Hallmark Security League rivals, Cammell Laird 1907 before a long-term injury to Jay Roberts led to Danny filling the role on the right of defence.

Danny did an excellent job but has also reverted to his defensive midfield berth on occasions.

Boss Ellison said: 'Danny has had an excellent first season with us. He is very accomplished and confident in possession while also being strong and hard to knock off the ball.

'Most importantly, he is a very good defender, who just gets on with the job with the minimum of fuss. As he has shown from time to time, he has a powerful shot on him too.'

Michael, a graduate of the Academy at Bury, returned to Runcorn Linnets in December for a third spell and soon made the four appearances he needed for 100 in the Yellow and Green.

The utility man has, with his high-octane displays, also added to his goal tally - the highlight in 2016-17 being his late equaliser which set up a memorable win at Bootle.

Ellison said: 'Simmo is one of those players who bursts with energy and has again been top drawer since coming back to us from Prescot Cables.

'With Adam Wade moving to Singapore and (assistant manager) Matt (Cross) and I having also retired, Simmo and Mark Houghton are now the only members of our 2013 North West Challenge Cup winning team still playing for the club.

'I hope that they can help us to more silverware in the coming season.'

08 May 2017 : Zac Aley and Stuart Wellstead are here to stay

Runcorn Linnets fans will be bouyed by the news that Zac Aley and Stuart Wellstead are to remain with Runcorn Linnets for next season.

Both have made impressive contributions to the Linnets' late season surge, not only with the quality of their performances but also their versatility.

Front runner Stuart joined the club from 1874 Northwich in October but it was after Christmas that he really came into his own.

Be it as a central striker or playing out wide, he regularly chipped in with some important goals, both as a starter or off the bench.

Manager Michael Ellison said: 'I played alongside Stu earlier in my career when we were at Winsford together so I knew full well what a very good player I had brought in.

'It took him a little while to settle in and he wasn't helped by picking up an injury soon after joining us, but as the season has progressed, he has shown everybody just what he can do.

'He has really influenced games and found the net on a regular basis and will I am sure continue to have a big input as we move forward.'

Zac Aley, 25, came to the club in November with a good pedigree but looking to rebuild his career after a long-term injury and was handed a place in the squad after a brief trial.

Having initially come to prominence at Southport, progressing through their youth system to make the first team, he signed for then Premier League club, Blackburn Rovers.

While never making the first team at Ewood Park, Zac later played in League Two with Morecambe.

'Zac gives us very good options down the left where he has done well for us as a full back or pushing forward in support of the front men,' said boss Ellison.

'He is another player who has improved game by game as his match fitness and confidence have grown.

'He has a lot of ability, setting up goals with his crosses or scoring them himself.

'He was chosen by the fans as our Player of the Month in April and I have to say it was thoroughly deserved.'

08 May 2017 : Defenders Tom Hardwick and Chris Lawton to remain the centre of attention at The Millbank

Two of the more experienced members of the Runcorn Linnets squad have joined the ever-increasing band of players to announce they are staying.

Central defenders Chris Lawton and Tom Hardwick bring a lot of know-how to the Millbank Linnets Stadium ranks.

They are the ninth and 10th players to commit to the Linnets since the final match of the season nine days ago.

In Lawty's case, however, his major influence could from now on be brought to bear more on the coaching side than as a player.

The veteran centre half's playing involvement has been scaled down since the turn of the year with Tom getting most if the action alongside ever-present, Aaron Morris.

Chris has, however, shown that he can still do a job on the field and his man-of-the-match performance as an emergency replacement 'keeper, after a sending off in the Boxing Day derby against Runcorn Town, means that the 2016-17 season is one he will never forget.

Manager Michael Ellison said: 'Lawty returned to the club in pre-season when we were in real turmoil and his experience helped us to get through those early months when we were rebuilding.

'He is still more than capable of playing but will now be just as vital to us in the backroom. He has previously been assistant manager at Barnton.

'With Danny Salt no longer able to commit to his coaching role, this is a perfect time for Chris to get more involved behind the scenes. He will still be registered for us as a player.'

Tom Hardwick came back to Linnets in January of this year after serving Colwyn Bay in the Evo-Stik League.

His involvement at the higher level - Tom also played NPL football with Warrington Town - has been invaluable in establishing Linnets as one of the most difficult teams to beat in The Hallmark Security League.

'Tom has bags of experience and is a commanding figure at the heart of our defence, next to Aaron,' added boss Ellison.

'They have played a big part in us having one of the best goals-against records in the Premier Division - bettered only by the champions, Atherton Colls.

'Tom has been in and around football at our level for several years now and it is reassuring to have someone of his stature heading up our defensive unit.'

07 May 2017 : Coppin strikes as Linnets Ladies retain Challenge Cup

Congratulations to Runcorn Linnets Ladies who have retained the Cheshire Women's and Youth League's Challenge Cup this afternoon with a 1-0 victory in the final.

A 27th-minute goal from Beth Coppin was ultimately enough to secure success for John Pickering's team against Crewe Alexandra Development Squad at Barnton.

It is a terrific effort from the Ladies after the summer loss of several players from last season's double-winning squad but investment in youth has very much paid off.

Well done to all connected to the team - enjoy the celebrations!

06 May 2017 : Triple Player of the Year Aaron Morris targets title success next season with Runcorn Linnets

YOUNG defender Aaron Morris was already looking ahead last night when dominating Runcorn Linnets end-of-season presentations.

After collecting three premier trophies, including the Supporters Club and Players' Player of the Year awards, the 21-year-old centre back's thoughts were clearly directed as much towards next season as the one just ended.

"For the first year, I couldn't have wished for anything better than a team like this," said Aaron, an ever present after arriving last from fellow Hallmark Security League club, St Helens Town.

"The lads, the fans, Ello and Crossy (manager Michael Ellison and assistant Matt Cross) have made me feel so welcome.

"Nothing could make me feel better - apart from winning it next season. So let's go and do it!"

There were repeated standing ovations at The Heath Business and Technical Park for Aaron, one of a number of first-team players to have already committed to the Linnets for 2017-18.

Aaron also won the Young Linnets Player of the Year accolade on the vote of the club's junior fans and he wasn't the only member of the Linnets young brigade to win deserved recognition.

Teenage left back Danny McKenna, named The Travel Club's Away Player of the Year, thanked fans for their unwavering, unstinting support.

Team boss, Michael Ellison said: "To see lads like Aaron and Danny grow not only as players, but also as people, has been really pleasing for me as a manager."

Also paying tribute to his full squad, but particularly those who stayed loyal to the club last pre-season, Ello added: "I ask for patience and trust and it will come.

"I asked for it last season and I ask for it again."

Club captain Kyle Hamid received the Home Player of the Season which is based on player of the match awards from opposition clubs.

"I'd like to thank the club, the fans and all the volunteers everyone at the club who does absolutely anything to help. We really appreciate it," said Kyle.

Vice-captain, Mark Houghton received the President's Trophy as leading goal scorer.

"It's been a pleasure," said Houghto. "I've been here now for four or so years and I love the club.

"Keep sticking with us, hopefully next year, we can bring the cup home."

Club president, Alan Jones, made reference to the major team rebuilding in early season which ultimately left Linnets with too much to do for the Premier Division championship in 2016-17 - despite a terrific effort in the second half to the campaign.

He said: "We started from nothing and ended the season with nothing. But we had the best team in the league without a doubt."

Chairman Mark Buckley, master of ceremonies for the awards, thanked all the companies and organisations who support the club but especially main sponsors Millbank Holdings, programme sponsors Apec Taxis, kit suppliers Macron Store Cheshire and back-of-shirt sponsors, Grangeside of Runcorn.

Mark also mentioned chef manager, Anthony Stonebanks and staff at The Heath for their superb hospitality and Runcorn Amateur Boxing Club for use of their facilities for training.

The chairman likewise paid tribute to Rob Johnston, retiring Trust Board member for ground maintenance, and volunteer groundsman, Dave Rose for ensuring there were no home first-team postponements at The Millbank Linnets Stadium.

"It is our intention now to hit the ground running," added Mark. "We believe in Ello and Crossy and all of the lads.

"From Christmas, we have had without a shadow of a doubt the best team in that division.

"This season, we have been using the hash tag, '#A New Chapter'. It is not a new chapter any longer, it's for real.

"Our new hashtag was chosen by James (Eastup from the club's media team) and typifies how we will succeed "#Together".

"We have all got to pull together and put the club in the division above.

"We know we are a great club. We've got to succeed and we will succeed."

The full list of award winners was as follows:

Noel Bell Trophy (Lifetime Achievement): Rob Johnston.

Jimmy Lightfoot Trophy (Supporters Club Player of the Year):Aaron Morris.

Vice-Presidents' Award: Derek Greenwood, Lynn Johnston, Rob Johnston.

George Worrall Trophy (Players' Player): Aaron Morris.

Phil Tyler Trophy (Young Linnets Player of the Year): Aaron Morris.

Ray Shingler Trophy (Home Player of the Season): Kyle Hamid.

W Philcock Shield (Travel Club Away Player of the Season): Danny McKenna.

President's Trophy (Leading goalscorer): Mark Houghton (23).

The Bettley Trophy (Goal of the Season): Kristian Holt (v 1874 Northwich, away).

Special Achievement Awards: Michael Ellison and Matt Cross (this award instigated and presented by stalwart fans Ian Knowles and Bill Thompson); Adam Wade (on retirement after 149 first team appearances); Megan Pickering (100 goals in 84 career appearances for Runcorn Linnets Ladies); John Greenhalgh (on retirement as Travel Club co-ordinator); Antony Hickey, Michael Simpson (both 100 first team appearances).

Our thanks to Anthony's Travel for sponsoring the event and every one who attended.

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