RUNCORN Linnets begin in earnest this Saturday - kicking off their inaugural North West Counties League campaign

Officials of the new club say it will mean everything to see the team running out at Ashton-in-Makerfield for their first competitive game.

There were fears at the end of last season that the town's long tradition in non-league football would be lost.

Ashton Town await Linnets at Edge Green Street and with Runcorn also on Cheshire Senior Cup duty at Alsager Town on Tuesday (ko

7.45pm), it is the start of an exciting era.

Press officer Steve Pritchard said: 'We will be going to Ashton with a sense of pride that we have managed to achieve something in a relatively short period of time.

'We are all very pleased with the way things are going. Saturday will be a continuation of the hard work we have been putting in.'

The team is unlikely to be much different to the one which defeated Rhyl 1-0 on Saturday.

Runcorn were beaten 3-0 in their final warm-up match at Rossendale on Tuesday and despite the result, there were no major disasters.

'Our defence was a bit weakened for the absence of Mark Phillips and the second and third goals were just soft goals,' added Pritchard.

'Generally speaking, it wasn't a bad performance against quite a physical team who played quite well.'

Linnets' first home match has been rearranged for Friday, August 18 (ko 8pm).

The game against Castleton Gabriels was scheduled for the following day but clashed with another event at Witton Albion's Wincham Park, the club's temporary home.

Club chairman Stuart White said: 'It would be great to have a large crowd to cheer us on in our first home match.

'We hope that all fans old and new will come down to offer their support and see what we have to offer.'

* Saturday's win over League of Wales side Rhyl was marred by the collar-bone fracture sustained by substitute defender James Deane within eight minutes of being introduced.

* Souvenir programmes of the inaugural home game can be pre-ordered - see

To reserve a copy, send a cheque for £2, including postage and packing, to Runcorn Linnets FC Programme, c/o 64 Waterside Drive, Frodsham, Cheshire, WA6 7NG.

There is also a chance for people to place a message in the first programme.

The cost is £5 for up to 10 words and 50p a word thereafter.

A club spokesman said: 'You can put any message you like in the programme - good wishes, messages of support, a message to your mates, or maybe asking your partner to marry you - anything you like!'

Deadline is Monday, August 14.