Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News
River returns to heart of defence
IT’S been a busy week behind the scenes at Widnes FC with joint managers Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey making great strides in assembling their squad for the season.
Firstly, the club has announced the re-signing of central defender River Humphreys.
Humphreys originally joined the club in December 2016 and was a part of the side that would go on to win the North West Counties Division One title under Joey Dunn that season.
The 30-year-old would depart for Witton Albion the following campaign but has now completed a return to the DCBL Stadium.
Previously a runner-up on TV competition Wayne Rooney’s Street Striker, River began his footballing career as an academy player firstly at Everton, before moving on to Wrexham.
He then had a spell at Warrington Town before signing for AFC Liverpool in 2013, where he made over 100 appearances.
Humphreys moved to Runcorn Linnets in 2014, and was voted Supporters’ Player of the Year following the 2015/16 season.
He had spells in the Welsh Premier League with Cefn Druids and Bangor City before joining the Whites in 2016.
Joint-manager Kev Towey said: “River’s been with us before and nobody can doubt his ability.
“When fit and with regular football under his belt, I firmly believe that River is as good as anyone at our level.
“He is a welcomed addition to our defensive unit ahead of the new season.”
Another central defender, Matty Makinson, 22, arrives after a truncated campaign with Stalybridge Celtic.
Makinson began his career at Everton before joining Blackburn Rovers as a teenager which preceded a short spell at Warrington Town.
Matty then agreed a two-year contract with Colne in the summer of 2018, appearing twice for the Reds in games against Widnes.
He spent part of the 2019/20 season on loan at Atherton Collieries before a brief spell at FC United of Manchester in 2020.
Joint-manager Kev Towey said: “We’re really pleased to have signed Matty and he’ll be an important presence for us in both boxes.
“We’ve tried to sign him a few times over the years and unfortunately for us, he’s always had offers from teams higher up the pyramid.
“Matty’s had a re-think this pre-season and wants to be playing regular football and we believe he can do that here.”
Liam Kennington, 18, left Crewe Alexandra earlier in the summer and has now put pen-topaper on a one-year deal with the Whites.
Liam was previously on the books at Everton before making the move to Gresty Road in 2019.
A central midfield player, Kennington has appeared as a trialist in a number of Widnes’ pre-season games, scoring a penalty in last month’s 2-2 draw with Cefn Druids.
Towey said: “Liam left Crewe at the end of last season and it’s taken some time to get this one over the line.
“His ambition is to get back into full time football but he’s fully aware of the challenges ahead of him to succeed.
“He has a great attitude and I’m confident that we have a very exciting young player on our hands.”
Duo Levi Phillips and Tyler Magee have signed after a successful trial period in pre-season.
23-year-old Phillips arrives at the DCBL Stadium with Northern Premier League experience having played for Droylsden during the 2018-19 season.
A pacey winger by trade, Phillips has recently moved back up North after spells with Isthmian League clubs Tooting & Mitcham, Carshalton Athletic, Staines Town and East Grinstead Town.
He began his career as a trainee at newly promoted Premier League side Brentford.
17-year-old striker Magee arrives having spent time with City of Liverpool’s Under-19s as a member of the Steven Gerrard Football Academy.
A Widnes lad, Tyler played his junior football with local club Pex Hill and becomes the latest Widnesian to represent his hometown team.
Only turning 18 later this month, Magee has become the youngest ever player to sign for the club.
Towey said: “Levi has come back up north to live in Manchester which is ideal circumstances for us.
“He has experience at both Step 3 and Step 4 and is a real handful on his day.
“He hasn’t had much of a preseason but he’ll offer us something different with a real ability to be direct and run at opposition defenders.
“Tyler is a Widnes lad and despite only being 17, he’s completed pre-season with us and certainly hasn’t looked out of place.
“He’s definitely one for the future but we believe he’s good enough to be integrated into the first team squad as the season progresses.”
Meanwhile, James Steele has signed a one-year contract extension at the DCBL Stadium.
The 21-year-old joined the Whites in the summer of 2019 and has since gone on to make 46 appearances for the club, scoring nine goals.
He ended last season’s truncated campaign as Widnes’ top goalscorer, netting four times in 11 games.
Towey said: “Steelie has been a focal point of the team since we signed him two years ago.
“It was very important for us to get him tied down for this season because he’s such a key part of the side.
“He’s another lad that will offer us plenty and I’m sure he’ll produce some crucial performances this season.”