China to Runcorn

China to Runcorn

Well, it’s not exactly about a shirt but the story needs promoting! Let’s be honest, it’s not every day that a Football Manager fan travels 6,000 miles from China to visit Runcorn FC – after managing them on CM 01/02

Huang Wenbin enjoyed his title-winning game so much that he wanted to pay a visit to the club.Anyone who plays Football Manager will know how easy it is to develop a soft spot for the club you manage.

Huang Wenbin did exactly that, as he became an exiled fan of Runcorn FC Halton following his tenure in charge of them on Championship Manager 01/02.

Wenbin turned his Runcorn side into world beaters, rising from the Conference to the Premier League, signing the likes of Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy along the way.

Fifteen years on from his virtual exploits, Wenbin, 37, underwent the ultimate pilgrimage for any Football Manager fan – as he completed a 12,000-mile round-trip to visit Runcorn.

The club, now under the guise of Runcorn Linnets following the demise of the original club in 2006, play in the ninth tier of English football.

But that was not going to put off Wenbin, who flew to Liverpool with his wife, Lin Xiaoru, and children, Yandao and Geshu, in a bid to find the non-league club.

“The first time I made the decision to find Runcorn FC was in 2015,” Wenbin told Mirror Football.

“I went to Liverpool by train to watch Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield.

“When the train was parking, I saw a sign for Runcorn. I told my friend I will be there again to find my club.” After arriving in England last week, Wenbin set up a Twitter account in order to contact the club to try and organise a visit. And on Sunday, he was greeted by club officials.

“We all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that someone was waiting for us in front of the stadium. We spent over 24 hours to arrive in Liverpool from Xiamen in China.” Wenbin worked out the local bus system and was able to travel from Liverpool to Runcorn – but it was not without complication.
“We missed the bus station and got lost on the road in the countryside near Runcorn Linnets. “We spent three hours trying to find the club. It must be my false for my poor English speaking and listening.” But football is a universal language and there was no problem in telling the story between Wenbin and club chairman Mark Buckley, who showed the family around the Millbank Linnets Stadium.

“Mark is such an easy going person and he introduced the Runcorn Linnets club to us,” Wenbin said.”He brought us a box of club souvenirs, such as a badge which my son wore on his clothes immediately.”My son wanted to kick a ball on the pitch. Mark was so kind to let him do that and my son enjoyed himself to the full.”

Wenbin was unable to watch the Linnets’ away match against Burscough this weekend but made up for it with a visit to Anfield to watch his beloved Liverpool’s game against Manchester United.

But it was the visit to Runcorn that Wenbin was most excited about. On the other hand, his wife, Xiarou, was just thankful for the warm welcome from the club – and Wenbin is appreciative of her for joining him on the journey. Runcorn chairman Mark said: “She possibly didn’t know what to expect, so when he got a warm welcome I think she was probably quite relieved! “I don’t think he realised that he was quite big news. He seemed quite astonished that we were happy to see him. We have a Swedish fans group and a Norwegian fans group, but China is a little bit special.

“It was quite humbling, because he was such an honest and polite man. I really, really enjoyed it personally. It was a fabulous few hours.”He has already emailed me umpteen photos and his thoughts from the day, so I think I’ve found myself a pen pal for life, which is brilliant and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch. He’s a thoroughly decent bloke.”

Runcorn are now endeavouring to source a replica shirt which they can send to over to Chin

Full story here . Photos courtesy of The Mirror Group

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