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Linnets Legends - Jack Boothway

When I first started watching Runcorn back in the 1950s, George Vose was the manager, but the first manager I really remember was Cyril Lello. Lello was an ex Everton player and at that time, non-league teams were very often made up of ex league players coming toward the end of their careers, and that was the case with his teams. In 1961, however, Lello was succeeded by Jack Boothway, Runcorn’s longest serving post-war manager.

Boothway was born in Manchester in 1919 and played amateur football for Rusholme and Sedgeley Park. He was spotted by Mossley and invited to play there in 1938/39 just pre-war. During the war he had a spell with Manchester City as a rugged centre forward. After the war, he joined Crewe Alex for a season before moving on to Wrexham for three seasons. He eventually ended his playing career back at Mossley. It was here that he also took his first manager’s job before moving on to Northwich.

He came to Runcorn in 1961 and remained until 1971, making Jack the longest serving manager since the war (and possibly of all time?). Jack built a team around players from the Manchester area and by season 1962/62 had brought the first post-war league title to the Linnets, when we won the old Cheshire League championship easily beating Buxton into second place, with the highest points total since 1950/51, when Rhyl had won the league. Records had tumbled – the first 17 games without defeat, just one defeat in the first 30 games, and only 3 defeats in the whole season! The team remained undefeated at home in the League, only Borough Utd won at Canal Street in the FA Cup! The players themselves became Linnets Legends – Moss and Foster, with almost 60 goals between them, and Jock Cunningham to name but three. To the league title were added the Cheshire Senior Cup in 1961/62 and again in 1964/65.

Jack Boothway sadly died in 1979 aged just 60. In a letter I received last year from Jim Cumbes, he recalls Jack as “ a wonderful character, as was Freddie Pye, who later went on to the Board of Manchester City” (Pye was also, of course, manager at Altrincham).

Perhaps there were more “characters” around in those days. Looking back it certainly seems that way. So thanks for the memories, Jack.

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