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 By Chris Wright

Chinese fan travels 6,000 miles to Runcorn after playing computer game

One intrepid football fan has made the 6,000-mile trip from China to North-West England to visit the stadium of his beloved club.

However, we're not talking about Anfield or Old Trafford here, but the altogether more humble surrounds of The Millbank Linnets Stadium, home of non-league Runcorn Linnets.

Huang Wenbin fell in love with Runcorn after taking over the club on his Championship Manager 01/02 game and guiding them to Premier League and UEFA Cup glory.

In reality, the Linnets are currently playing in the North West Counties League Premier Division, which comprises the ninth tier of the English pyramid.

After first travelling to England to experience Steven Gerrard's final match for Liverpool, Huang vowed to return to the area to visit the hallowed ground on which he masterminded Runcorn's (sadly fictional) rise to the top.

So, Huang and his family embarked on the epic 12,000-mile round trip from their home in Xiamen to finally take in the majestic sights and sounds of Runcorn.

Huang's journey wasn't without complications, with several wrong turns serving to scupper the family's arrival.

"We all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that someone was waiting for us in front of the stadium," he told the Daily Mirror. "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 fault [because of] my poor English speaking and listening."

Thankfully, the four travellers finally reached their destination, where they were greeted by Runcorn chairman Mark Buckley.

Buckley then proceeded to give his VIP guests a personal tour of the club's facilities, including a quick kick-about on the pitch for the children.

"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," Buckley said.

"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. I'm looking forward to keeping in touch. He's a thoroughly decent bloke."

Chris covers the funny side of the game for ESPN FC in the Toe Poke blog.

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