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24 Jun 2020 : Graeme Hewitt is handed goalkeeping coach role at Runcorn Linnets

Our new backroom team continues to take shape with Graeme Hewitt joining Runcorn Linnets as goalkeeping coach.

Graeme, 33, brings a great deal of coaching experience from his work at a wide variety of clubs plus involvement with national leagues and associations.

Since July last year, he has been working at Liverpool FC in their International Academy Programme.

Graeme said: "I started coaching at Everton, aged 18 and was there until I was 27, working with the pre-Academy, 9-16s and U18s predominantly. I also spent a season coaching the Ladies goalkeepers in the Women's Super League.

"I have spent time at TNS, where I had three Champions League campaigns with games against Videoton (Hungary) Apoel (Cyprus) and HNK Rijeka (Croatia).

"I have worked as U18s GK coach for the FAW and still work as a talent ID scout for them, covering all age groups."

Graeme is a former first-team goalkeeping coach at Macclesfield Town (2018) and, immediately prior to the coronavirus lockdown, he had been lead Academy goalkeeping coach at Blackpool FC.

"I have recently left Blackpool due to a restructuring of the Academy because of the Covid outbreak," he explained.

"While at Blackpool, I worked with the U18 GKs, overseeing the entire Academy programme and assisting with the first-team goalkeepers.

"At present, I work within my own goalkeeping school, providing one-to-one and small group sessions."

Graeme has coached the first-team goalkeepers at TNS, Bangor City and Chester FC and worked at Academy level with Tranmere Rovers.

He has also coached for the FA Premier League in China - on the Premier Skills initiative in Shanghai.

Graeme added: "I am really looking forward to working with Calum, Colin and Luke at Runcorn Linnets.

"My plan was to have a season out of club football but once Calum asked the question, I found the opportunity to work with him too good to turn down. He's a great coach, a winner and someone I trust completely.

"I've not worked with Colin or Luke before but I have heard great things about both.

"Having been up and met everyone yesterday, I can see how passionate everybody involved is for this club and I really believe we can bring some good times to this club and its fans. I can't wait to get going."

Graeme is qualified in talent identification and opposition analysis through the Professional Football Scouts Association (PFSA) and also in talent identification (level one) with The Football Association. He holds a B licence in goalkeeping coaching with the Football Association of Wales.

Welcome to Runcorn Linnets, Graeme!

20 Jun 2020 : Physio Luke Davies joins our backroom team

MEET our new club physio!

We offer a very warm welcome to Luke Davies, who wil be a key part of the backroom staff, working with newly-appointed manager Calum McIntyre and assistant Colin Woodthorpe.

In asking Luke to introduce himself, we soon discovered he's no stranger to Runcorn Linnets - and he's actually played against us!

Luke said: "My general background is I am a Sports Rehabilitation graduate from Salford University in 2012.

"Once graduated, I joined Chester FC in 2014 and spent four years as part of the first-team medical team in the National League up until 2018.

"I met Calum whilst working at Chester FC. Calum's excellent work with the youth academy saw him progress to first-team coach.

"Calum has always been a winner at all the levels he has managed and I believe will continue to be so.

He added: "Since leaving Chester, I have been away from football and waiting for the right opportunity. The biggest compliment I can give is as soon as Calum asked me to join Runcorn Linnets, it was a no brainer for me.

"I have seen first hand that Calum is a winner and seeing Colin's AFC Fylde teams and coming up against them through the years, I know he is the same. That was something I was keen to be involved in going forward."

Luke had sacrificed his own playing career to concentrate on physiotherapy, with this enabling him (purposefully) to stay involved in football.

He explained: "I played for AFC Liverpool, I then moved to Ashton Town in the NWCFL whilst studying.

"I didn't play any competitive games against RLFC for AFCL.

"I did play against Linnets once for Ashton Town in the NWCFL Cup, back in 2011.

"We were the division below and went 1-0 up early. It would have been a bit of a result for us at the time.

"But Runcorn ended up winning 2-1 and I was at fault for the equaliser - I try to eradicate that from the memory haha!"

Luke explained: "Once graduated, I wanted to focus on the medical side of football and prolong my involvement in the game.

"I am delighted to be Involved in an exciting project.

"I have visited Linnets many times to watch matches and know that with the combination of the set-up, the fans and the new management team there can only be good times ahead."

19 Jun 2020 : Colin Woodthorpe named Linnets assistant

Our new manager Calum McIntyre has chosen vastly-experienced former Norwich City defender Colin Woodthorpe as his assistant in a major coup for Runcorn Linnets.

As well as playing at the top-level with the Canaries - likewise in Scotland for Aberdeen - 51-year-old Liverpudlian Colin boasts a high level of managerial success in the top echelons of the non-league game.

Assisting manager Dave Challinor at Colwyn Bay, former left back Colin helped the Seagulls gain promotion to Conference (now National League) North.

Colin then aided the rise through the divisions of AFC Fylde, again as right-hand man to former Tranmere Rovers midfielder Challinor.

Colin's marathon professional career in English and Scottish football ran from 1986-87 to the end of 2007-08.

His senior debut, however, had come in 1985-86 - as a 17-year-old Chester City apprentice who was handed his first-team chance in a Freight Rover Trophy tie at Rochdale.

A Football League opportunity followed the season after, Colin ending that campaign with 30 league starts and two goals. He scored in the Northern final of the Freight Rover Trophy as Chester lost 2-1 on aggregate to Mansfield Town.

Establishing a regular position and not missing a game in 1989-90 season, his last at Chester (after almost 200 appearances), Colin's quality earned him a six-figure move to Norwich.

In four years at Carrow Road, standout moments included facing Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup (1993), an FA Cup semi-final against Sunderland (1992) and scoring in a 3–0 win over Liverpool (1991).

The £400,000 move to Aberdeen in 1994 brought further European adventures. Colin's three years at Pittodrie, the only injury-dogged spell of his career, ended with a return to his native North West of England in 1997.

The destination was Stockport County, newly promoted to Division One (now Championship). The club would remain at that level until 2002, Colin becoming club captain.

A free transfer to Bury for 2002-03 saw Colin make the Division Three play-offs at the first attempt.

He remained a mainstay in the Shakers' defence as the side's elder statesman until his release and retirement from playing in May 2008, aged 39.

A new chapter, in football mannagenent, was opened in May 2010 as Colin was appointed assistant  to Dave Challinor at then NPL Premier Division club Colwyn Bay. Their runners-up finish led to promotion via the play-offs.

The management duo moved in summer 2012 to AFC Fylde. Various promotions over eight years saw the burgeoning Lancastrians into the National League Premier Division and a 2019 FA Trophy win at Wembley against Leyton Orient.

The pair left AFC Fylde in October. 

Colin first encountered and got to know new Linnets boss Calum McIntyre when Colwyn Bay based their training at Chester and was instantly struck by Calum's promise as a young coach.

"Calum's always kept in touch with Dave (Challinor) and myself and we have bumped into each other a lot of times.

"Dave's son is now involved with Chester at youth level too and Calum must have enquired about me.

"I had taken a rest after what happened last October. Then Covid-19 took a hold on everything. But now the time is right for a return to football.

"Calum's obviously interviewed very well. He has taken charge of Conference games at Chester - on not just a couple of occasions; he's had a run of games when the management has changed and done well results-wise in a team that wasn't doing particularly well.

"I certainly know him well enough. There's still a big connection at Chester with myself. There are people still there from 30-odd years ago when I first played for them.

"We knew he had potential and clearly Calum has progressed. He has now been given the opportunity at Runcorn Linnets. It looks like a journey's to be had."

Colin headed to The Millbank today from his adopted home town, Northwich and noticed quite a difference from his previous visit to play in a charity game - the additions of a new clubhouse and more recently, the hybrid pitch.

He has, however, still to erase one particularly bad memory, involving Linnets - Chester's 1-0 FA Cup first-round home defeat by our predecessors Runcorn AFC in 1987-88.

"It's the only time I have lost to a non-league side in the FA Cup," he reveals.

We can suggest the perfect remedy for that, Colin - more Linnets success in the seasons ahead!

18 Jun 2020 : Linnets are re-branding!

New season, new manager, new pitch... new brand.

Today we unveil our new club crest - part of a Runcorn Linnets re-brand, which will be rolled out over the campaign ahead.

The crest we've had since the formation of the club in 2006 was adapted from the town's official coat of arms, which had been part of our predecessor club's identity.

We felt it was time for a modern makeover and to bring the crest up to date with a fresh new look - so we set our graphics guru, Trust board member, James Eastup to work - here is the result.

James said: "Our overall aim was to improve the brand identity of Runcorn Linnets FC.

"Although our old crest had history - and links with the town of Runcorn and the former club - it wasn't immediately obvious to non-supporters to whom it belonged.

"Now, with a modernised version, which still incorporates parts of the town coat of arms, and the addition of the Runcorn Linnets name, we feel it better reflects our amazing club, as we continue to push forward for even more success."

Well, we think it looks great - hope you all do too - and not only heralds a new era but takes us into the future in style!

17 Jun 2020 : Calum McIntyre named as Linnets manager

Runcorn Linnets are delighted to announce the appointment of Calum McIntyre as club manager.

At 26 years old, Calum becomes one of the youngest managers in the football "Pyramid" but he brings with him extensive knowledge of senior non-league football and youth football in the region.

For the last four years he has been at Chester FC, serving various management teams as first team coach.

In a separate role as Academy head coach, he has overseen the development of young players to the Chester first team and beyond.

Calum is an FA Level 2 and UEFA B licensed coach, who now looks forward to transferring his knowledge, talent and passion into management in the "Pyramid".

He has had two spells as Chester's first team coach, initially from 2016-18 in a full-time training model at National League level, working alongside successive managers Jon McCarthy and Marcus Bignot.

In April 2018, Calum was named first team caretaker manager, thereby becoming the youngest manager in the history of the professional game.

Calum was promoted back to the  first  team  coach's role for 2019-20, this time under ex-Salford managers Anthony  Johnson  and  Bernard  Morley as the club  moved  to a "hybrid"  training schedule, combining  evening and daytime sessions.

Calum planned and led training in conjunction with the club's co-managers and sports science staff.

Before the cancellation of  fixtures, Chester were set for a play-off position in National League North.

As Academy head coach, Calum in 2018 managed the Chester FC Youth side, which lifted the  National  League's Under 19 Cup. 

Between 2016-2018, he recruited, coached and  progressed three players - through  to  the Chester  FC first team. One of the players was subsequently transferred to Leicester City for a six-figure fee with the others joining Salford City and Notts County for four and five figure sums, respectively.

In all, 13 of Calum's proteges have made the first team in League matches, nine of these going on  to  make more than 15 senior  appearances and two more than  50.

Calum said on joining Runcorn Linnets:

"I am delighted to be joining Runcorn Linnets. This was a terrific opportunity to move into senior management.

"This is a terrific football club and one that I am a committed to playing my part in delivering success to. I am pleased to be inheriting such a talented group and look forward to speaking to existing players over the coming days.

"Over the coming weeks, I look forward to getting to know the supporters and volunteers at the club and working together ahead of the return to football when it is safe to do so."

Chairman Mike Bignall said of Calum's appointment:

"The recruitment process was very thorough. In total, we had 31 candidates for the position, a phenomenal response, the overall calibre being extremely high.

"Calum isn't someone who had been on our radar but his application and CV leapt off the page and made him a candidate we felt we had to speak to, and when interviewed, Calum impressed the panel immensely.

"For a young man, his knowledge, attention to detail and ethos on how football clubs should operate and develop, especially in the fan-owned model from his experience at Chester FC, perfectly align with the plans and progression of our great club.

"We were particularly impressed with Calum's proposed level of professionalism that he will introduce, his intricate knowledge of players at non-league level all over the North West, and his passion for developing young players into top-class footballers. This will align perfectly with our Under-21s team with whom Calum will be working closely.

"We are delighted to have him on board and look forward to a very exciting next step in our club's short history."

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