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Runcorn Linnets appoint ex-Barnsley, Tranmere, Huddersfield, MK Dons, Bury, Port Vale player

Runcorn Linnets appoint ex-Barnsley, Tranmere, Huddersfield, MK Dons, Bury, Port Vale player Antony Kay as their new first team manager.

The 41 year old is named as replacement for Billy Paynter, who resigned in the wake of their Northern Premier League West Division playoff semi-final defeat to City of Liverpool.

Runcorn finished the season 2nd with 68 points from 38 games played and were 10 points behind leaders Leek Town.

Kay, one of football’s most enduring characters and a triple promotion-winning veteran of 595 Football League games,ย signed for Linnets last summer.

He made 41 appearances in his debut season at the club, netting five times, but has now decided to call time on his playing career and take up a new chapter in management.


Runcorn Linnets are delighted to announce the appointment of Antony Kay as our new first team boss.

Antony has called time on his long and distinguished playing career to launch an exciting new chapter in management with Linnets.

Antony – or Kaysey as he is also known – brings a wealth of experience as a multiple EFL promotion winner, who has starred at Championship level.

As former captain of prominent professional clubs, he has always led by example on the field.

Since joining Linnets at the start of last season, he has also conducted himself in an exemplary fashion on and off the pitch.

His dedication has enabled him to continue as a top player into his 40s, such commitment being an inspiration to his team-mates.

Chairman Peter Cartledge said: “We received some quality applications both before and after advertising the post but once Antony declared his interest, it became clear that he would be a perfect fit for the role.

“He already has a feel for the club and on meeting with him this week, we were greatly impressed by his plans, vision for the club and his infectious enthusiasm.

“Kaysey has played with distinction to a high level and to have been able to continue playing well Into his 42nd year is a testimony to his love of and commitment to the game and his fitness, conditioning and drive.

“I have no doubt that he could have continued playing in the coming season but he wants to concentrate on managing and we have the utmost respect for him making that decision.

“He can’t wait to get started, putting together his support team and plans in place for the summer and the season ahead.”

The chairman added: “Continuity was an important aspect in our making this decision and similarly, Kaysey is keen to retain the core of the squad, which carried us last season to our highest ever finish.

“I can’t and wouldn’t want to hide or underplay the disappointment of losing Billy Paynter in the aftermath of the play-off semi-final defeat. It hit me hard and was tough to take but with Kaysey’s appointment, we are revitalised and ready to go again.

“We shortlisted from the applicants and although there were candidates with much more experience in terms of management, Kaysey stood out and it’s brilliant that his first full management role will be at Runcorn Linnets.

“He has a great playing pedigree, excellent coaching qualifications, strong personal skills, work ethic and an outstanding CV.”

Antony admitted that the players and behind-the-scenes team were big factors in him choosing Linnets for the long planned switch from player to manager.

“It’s a good club. When I come here with my family, it’s well run, it’s a family club. It’s a great way to start my managerial career.”

IN PROFILE – Runcorn Linnets’ new manager Antony Kay

Yorkshireman Antony Kay signed for Runcorn Linnets last summer from JD Cymru Premier League club Bala Town.

Making his competitive Linnets debut in our first game of the 2023-24 Pitching In Northern Premier League West campaign, he went on to play in 41 games and scored five goals.

He had made 30 appearances for Bala in 2022-23, notably reaching the Welsh Cup final, before being recruited in May 2023 by then Linnets boss Billy Paynter after centre back Sam Heathcote’s departure to Macclesfield.

In each of Antony’s three campaigns with Bala, the Gwynedd club played in UEFA competitions – either the Europa League or Europa Conference League.

He also coached the team, thereby being directly involved in tactics and matchday organisation.

Antony is one of football’s most enduring characters and a triple promotion-winning veteran of 800-plus games in a professional career spanning three decades.

He has 595 games to his credit in the English Football League Championship, League One and League Two (with 49 EFL career goals).

Antony is a UEFA A coach, who has recently stepped up ambitions to move into coaching and management by launching his his own coaching school.

He says: “I firmly believe in coaching a style and brand of football that is based on improving players, being creative and fluid in possession whilst instilling a foundation of hard work, discipline and respect along with my strong drive to see things through.

“In my 22 years of being a professional footballer I have played under numerous managers and learnt a lot, taking both the positives and negatives into how I want to manage and coach”.

Antony, 41, starred in the EFL until the age of 36, operating in midfield as well as defence.

His long professional playing career began at hometown club Barnsley with Antony making his senior debut in August 2000, at the age of 17.

He accumulated 174 League appearances for the South Yorkshire outfit.

Winning an England Under 18s cap in 2001, Kay was the Tykes’ Player of the Season in 2004-05. The following season, he scored the winning penalty of a shootout in the Play-off Final to earn promotion from League One to the Championship.

In June 2007, Antony moved to Tranmere Rovers, being named Player of the Year in his second season before a transfer to Huddersfield Town in May 2009 culminated in Antony securing a second-time promotion to the Championship, again through the Play-offs, in 2011-12.

A third such feat was achieved as he stayed in the third tier for the following season on joining Milton Keynes Dons, who were promoted as League One runners-up in 2014-15.

Antony had 160 outings for the Buckinghamshire club, this being bettered only by his 199 games with Barnsley

Moving in June 2016 from Milton Keynes to Bury, Antony was Shakers’ club skipper.

He said: “Whilst still playing I starred to work at Bury FC, coaching the Under 14s for two years until the club went into liquidation. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there”.

Moving on to Port Vale, Anthony was again rewarded with the club captaincy. In fact, he was skipper or vice-captain at all of his professional clubs.

He stayed at Vale Park for two years, his next port of call being then Vanarama National League Premier club Chorley in January 2020.

Antony’s time in Lancashire was curtailed by Covid and eight months later, he was heading to Bala, where league finishes of third, second and fifth were achieved.

He added: “Over the last three years, I have set up my own coaching business, working with individuals and coaching teams.

“It gives me tremendous pleasure watching the progression and growth of players”.

This is how fans reacted as Runcorn Linnets appoint ex-Barnsley, Tranmere, Huddersfield, MK Dons, Bury, Port Vale player Antony Kay…

@jason_jabba1972: Great appointment knows the lads from last season. And I bet heโ€™s got great contacts to bring into the club. ๐ŸŒฝ๐ŸŒฝโšฝ๏ธโšฝ๏ธ Exciting season. No play offs. Just win it ๐ŸŒฝ๐ŸŒฝโšฝ๏ธโšฝ๏ธ

@SteveyAsp: Good that Linnets got this sorted early so he has the time to bring in his players ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š

@JoshMcCluskey8: Great appointment this. True leader on the pitch and a power house, winning, mentality. All the best Kaysie ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ”ฐ

@THEFIRMRLFC: Fantastic appointment! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š

@JackMcLinnets27: My first choice after Billy left, and now it’s a reality. Fantastic appointment, the professional’s professional. The future’s bright, the future is Antony Kay ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š Good luck Antony ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

@lovejoy_77: Happy with this, get behind him from the off ๐Ÿ’ช๐ŸŒฝ

@ImJustDaveJ: As soon as Billy resigned I wondered if Kaysey would step up. He’s a natural leader, so it makes sense and gives us a bit of stability transitioning to a new manager. I’m sure he’ll have the fans full support.

@Tina76866520: Good luck Antony kay utfc ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ”ฐ

@noddy2236: Glad got it sorted quickly, now to get the squad assembled ASAP, I’m sure Anthony will do a good job with his know how.

@Finders82: Great appointment all the best kaysie ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š

@tinno213: Yes Kaysie letโ€™s do this ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ‘Š

@bigdirk008: What a great appointment guys ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

@kc2310: Intrigued to see who he brings in. Best of luck!

@MikeCosgrove84: Best of luck Ant mate ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿป

@BrianMyler: Congratulations Anthony, we are behind you. Let’s go for the season ahead ๐Ÿ”ฐ๐Ÿ”ฐ

@TayCrabb: just win us the league please mate

@joannej1970: Fantastic appointment ๐Ÿ‘ made up with this post thank you Runcorn Linnets ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š looking forward to see who’s staying and who comes in

@TheArtofFutba11: Top player who knows the game. Good luck mate. Canโ€™t wait to see you lead he team to promotion next year

@morrello_: at least tony kay is magic

@AlanCol14871795: Good luck Antony Kay. Really hope youโ€™re the man that gets us to where I think we belong !

@dixie2107: Great appointment. Knows the game inside out. Boss fella. Well respected ๐Ÿค๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

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