In April 1997 the Bill Shankly Memorial was officially unveiled in the former mining village of Glenbuck, Scotland by Ron Yeats, Willie Stevenson and Ian St John. Around 4,000 Liverpool fans attended the memorial event to pay tribute to the great man. But there is more to this story than just the memorial as further tributes were also paid on the day to the memory of Bill Shankly.
The first was a football match
An U’15 team from Crosby, Liverpool called the Shankly Reds were chosen as the official representatives of Liverpool FC. They supported the boys with LFC kits and tracksuits. The opposing team were the Glenbuck Cherry Pickers which was the official name of the local village team. The team that played in the village during Bill Shankly’s childhood. It was made up of mostly miners who worked in the village pit. This match was in tribute to the fact that wherever Shankly went he would often organise a match.
Whether it was with the hotel staff when he was on holiday or the local kids on the fields near his house in Liverpool.
The match was sponsored by Scottish Coal who provided the medals and the Bill Shankly Memorial Trophy. Ron Yeats officially kicked off the match and in a hard fought contest the Shankly Reds won the match 5-1. Ron Yeats presented the trophy to team captain Shaun Moran whose grandad Jack Moran had completed a personal tribute to Bill Shankly just before the game started.
The personal tribute
Jack, aged 67, decided to walk from Anfield to Glenbuck, a journey of 210 miles in tribute to Shankly and to raise funds for a local hospice. He started the walk form the centre of the pitch at Anfield along with a piper who had travelled down from Glenbuck. They completed a lap of honour around the pitch during the half time interval of the Liverpool v Manchester Utd game. This received a great response from the crowd and Jack then set of for Glenbuck.
He completed the journey in 6 days calling in at Bill Shankly’s former clubs Preston North End and Carlisle United along the way. As he arrived at the entrance to the village of Glenbuck he was met by Barbara Alexander, Bill Shankly’s niece. They walked the last part of the journey together to the Memorial. Jack also raised £15,000 for St Joseph’s Hospice.
On returning to Liverpool the Bill Shankly Memorial Trophy was initially placed in the Liverpool FC museum.
Bill Shankly Memorial Trophy finds a home
The trophy was returned to John Moran after its stint in the museum and for the next 19 years it was stored in the loft at his home. In 2016 John paid a visit to the recently opened Shankly Hotel and was amazed at the stunning collection of Shankly memorabilia. In particular what caught his eye was the section devoted to Glenbuck. John decided that this would be a fitting home for the Bill Shankly Memorial Trophy .
A meeting was soon arranged with Bill Shankly’s grandson, Chris Carline, and not only was it agreed that the trophy should go on display in the Shankly Hotel but also that it would be played for annually with a similar format to 1997. Furthermore it would also include a grass roots football fundraising activity.
From Anfield to Glenbuck
It was decided that a team of cyclists would ride from the Shankly Statue at Anfield to Glenbuck, a total of 210 miles. This would then be followed by a match involving the Shankly Family Foundation, U’15 team and a Glenbuck representative team. For the charity cycle Tony Bonner an experienced cyclist and lifelong Liverpool FC supporter was recruited onto the organising team and the project was up & running.
Over the next couple of months a total of 12 cyclists and an 8 strong backup team answered the call to participate in the Bill Shankly Memorial Ride 2016 including three guys from Glenbuck!
The route from Anfield to Glenbuck was chosen to include two of Shankly`s former clubs Preston North End & Carlisle Utd. Each of the riders agreed to raise sponsorship for the two chosen charities, the Shankly Family Foundation & Glenbuck Football Academy. Signature Living and Scottish Mines Restoration Fund kindly agreed to sponsor the cyclists and the football team.
On Friday April 29th the riders and back up team assembled at Anfield at the Shankly statue. They were met by a Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan who spent most of his career playing during the Shankly era and he gave the riders a motivational talk including a few Shankly stories. The riders would need all the help they could get as they set off into a cold wind that was soon followed by driving rain.
An epic journey
First stop was at Preston North End and the riders were given permission to go onto the pitch and have their photo taken with the Bill Shankly Stand in the background. Following this brief stop they set off from Preston with an overnight camping stop in the Lake District. After 100 miles on the bike this was much appreciated.
On day two the riders set off for their overnight base in Scotland and another 100 mile ride which included the dreaded ride over Shap. This steep punishing incline tested the resolve of all the riders only a few were able to reach the summit without stopping.
All the riders reached the campsite in Scotland and were desperate for a good night’s rest so they could complete the final 30 mile ride into Glenbuck the following morning for the meeting at the Shankly Memorial. That night was memorable but for the wrong reasons; the gale force winds, driving rain, leaking tents and flying gazebos. However the cyclists braved the conditions and were up early and set off in the rain for the final 2 hour ride into Glenbuck.
Arriving at Glenbuck
Finally, two and a half days after setting off from the Shankly statue at Anfield, cycling 210 miles through driving rain, gale force winds, the cyclists turned into the entrance to Glenbuck. As they approached the Shankly Memorial they were visibly moved by the reception they received. They were met by a large appreciative crowd which included Rob Gillan, manager of the Glenbuck Football Academy, and the Glenbuck U’15 squad plus a lone Scottish piper playing Amazing Grace.
There were also a few special guests to help celebrate the occasion. Barbara Alexander, Bill Shankly’s niece and Jack Moran who completed the fundraising walk in 1997. Barbara was present 20 years ago to greet Jack who had walked the 210 miles from Anfield to Glenbuck. Also waiting to greet them was Chris Carline, Bil Shankly’s grandso. As a 15yr old Chris had been present at the Liverpool v Man Utd game from which Jack set off on his walk in 1997.
Chris is now a partner in the Shankly Hotel and Chair of the Shankly Family Foundation charity. Barbara Alexander gave a wonderful and interesting speech. A stirring recollection about the young Bill Shankly who grew up in Glenbuck and how his upbringing helped forge the character that went on to build the world famous Liverpool Football Club. She also praised the efforts of the cyclists, the support team and all those present in helping keep the Bill Shankly Glenbuck legacy alive. She was certain Bill Shankly would have been very proud of the fundraising efforts to promote grass roots football.
England vs Scotland
After everyone had taken their photos at the memorial and visited the site of the Shankly family cottage we all moved on to Muirkirk for the game between the Shankly Family Foundation v Glenbuck representative team.
A good crowd were in attendance to witness the teams being led out by the 2 respective managers Joey Swift and Rob Gillan. As with all England versus Scotland encounters this was a feisty hard fought match that swung one way then another before finally ending in a creditable draw. Both teams shared the Bill Shankly Memorial Trophy and both teams were presented with their medals by Barbara Shankly and Chris Carline.
A sterling effort
Congratulations are due to all the cyclists for their sterling efforts in what turned out to be a punishing and challenging ride but all completed the task. The main motivation that helped them all achieve it was the legend and founder of the mighty Liverpool FC Empire Bill Shankly. The riders were as follows, Tony Bonner, Ian Moran, Richard O’Loughlin, Scott McGreal, David McGreal, Keith Burrell, Fraser Goodwin, Jasper Smith, Chris Dodgson, Liam Chilvers, Richard Morgan-Green and Tom Simpson.
This whole event and celebration of the life of Bill Shankly could not have taken place without the volunteers who supported the cyclists during the event. The team were as follows John Moran, Kevin Kewn, Becky Jayson, Sandra Bonner , Sian Bonner, Shaun Moran, Andy Joynson, Frank Moran, Peter Forber, Paul Hamilton-Smith, Sue Simpson.
The final part of the event was held in August at the Shankly Hotel when a cheque presentation has held. The fundraising efforts by all involved had exceeded the target of £5,000 with the final total of £6,000 which will be used by the Shankly Family Foundation and the Glenbuck Football Academy to promote grass roots football. Looking to the future plans are already in place for the Bill Shankly Memorial Trophy event to take place in Liverpool in 2017 and for an event to take place simultaneously each year thereafter.