17 Oct 2017 : Fan from the Far East fulfills dream by visiting Runcorn Linnets
Football suporters are often prepared to go the extra mile in support of their club, particularly in the rarefied environment of the non-league game.
But Huang Andersson has taken the lengths he will go to, as a Runcorn Linnets follower, a whole new distance - by bringing his family thousands of miles from their home in China to visit his favourite club!
Huang, whose hometown is close to the Taiwanese border, has followed the fortunes of the Linnets from afar since the early part of this century.
On Sunday, it was an unlikely ambition fulfilled as Huang, his wife and two young children got to see The Millbank Linnets Stadium at close quarters on their own exclusive tour.
It all came about from a conversation on twitter last week after Huang had contacted the Linnets, of the Hallmark Security (North West Counties) League Premier Division, from Liverpool to ask if he could have a look around - and the club answered his call.
Although there was no home game during the family's stay in England, Huang dearly wanted to see their ground before heading home to Asia this week.
Huang was shown the fans-owned club's facilities by the Linnets' chairman, who takes up the unusual and amazing story of how the visitor from the Far East first became interested in Runcorn and how his support has grown.
'In 2001, Huang adopted Runcorn FC Halton (which was the operating name of our predecessor club, Runcorn AFC) as his favourite team, through playing the computer game Championship Manager,' explained Mark Buckley.
'Because social media is limited in his home country, it has been difficult over the years for him to get much information about the club, and so he decided to bring his family on a pilgrimage to England to find his favourite team!
He had the ground listed as "Autoquest, Liverpool" as when Runcorn FC Halton were playing in Widnes, their home games took place at what was then The Auto Quest Halton Stadium.
'Through setting up a twitter profile, he was able to get in touch, and we sent him directions instead to The Millbank Linnets Stadium.
'Huang and his family duly arrived, as arranged, on Sunday afternoon from Liverpool - on the 79c bus!
'He was thrilled to be given a tour of the facilities, and explained to me that his favourite and best player in the computer game was Steve Carragher, who managed Runcorn FC Halton and was also the inaugural team boss for Runcorn Linnets.
'He was distraught to lose him in the game to fund a move for Steven Gerrard, but was very happy to hear that 'Cas' eventually became Linnets manager.
'Huang took many pictures of the team group in our clubhouse foyer with Steve on.
'He and his son also had a kick about on the pitch, and many stories were exchanged and photos taken.
'I was honoured and humbled to meet such a warm, polite and enthusiastic fan.
'I'm sure it's not the last we have heard of him, and I gave him my word to keep in touch by email.'
For his part, Huang has promptly taken again to twitter to thank the Linnets' chairman for the warmth of his welcome while adding that as far as he is concerned, 'Runcorn Linnets will always be at the top of the table.'
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