December 1 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of Bill Shankly agreeing to become manager of Liverpool FC. He took over two weeks later on 14 December.
To commemorate this anniversary and the great man’s legacy Spirit of Shankly and East Ayrshire Council are thrilled to announce the launch of the Spirit of Shankly Cup.
A juniors' tournament, it will bring together eight teams, four from Liverpool and four from East Ayrshire, where Shankly was born in the mining village Glenbuck in 1913.
The inaugural event will be played in June 2020 in one of East Ayrshire’s excellent footballing facilities.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “In our communities here in East Ayrshire we have a great love of football, a proud affection for its clubs and its heroes, none more so than the great Bill Shankly.
“As much as we know how the traditional values he experienced in the mining community of Glenbuck formed his character and strength, we know in his own words “Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool”. It is with that in mind and with great appreciation to Liverpool Football Club and its supporters, I am absolutely delighted to announce the inaugural Spirit of Shankly Tournament to the people here in East Ayrshire. This will see the cream of football talent from Shankly’s birth place in Ayrshire pitted against the best from his adoptive home in Liverpool.
“Football has featured in the lives of East Ayrshire’s mining communities for many generations. Bill Shankly was born and bred in Glenbuck and he and his five brothers all went on to play professional football. In total, some 50 members of the famous Glenbuck team, the Cherrypickers, also progressed to professional teams, establishing an incredible legacy for this tiny mining village.
“The Spirit of Shankly Tournament will build on this legacy, strengthening the bond between Liverpool and East Ayrshire and it will give local teams from both sides a unique opportunity to compete for something special, in the memory of one of the world’s greatest football managers.
“The original Glenbuck village was demolished when opencast mining was introduced to the area, but in September this year, we proudly unveiled the restored site of Glenbuck Heritage Village. East Ayrshire Council our football community very much look forward to welcoming players and supporters to Glenbuck and East Ayrshire next year as part of the tournament arrangements.
“I hope this tournament will go from strength to strength and reinforce the bond Shankly had with both communities”.
Tournament organiser Dave MacDiarmid said: “We are honoured to be part of this great project. It's amazing that Shankly's legacy lives on and the youngsters will get to see where it all began and how his values in life are as strong as ever.”
When Shankly arrived, Liverpool were languishing in the Second Division. The club was well supported, but its infrastructure was second-rate: Anfield and the training ground at Melwood were dilapidated; directors regularly meddled in team selections; funds for transfers were rarely forthcoming.
Through his leadership, dedication, motivation and commitment, Shankly’s promise to make Liverpool a bastion of invincibility was realised.
SOS’s Stephen Monaghan said: “It’s a personal honour to be involved in the Spirit of Shankly Cup. It’s a fantastic, fitting tribute to the great man that will see youngsters from Liverpool and Ayrshire brought together under his name.”
Karen Gill, Bill Shankly’s granddaughter added: “It's a brilliant tribute to my grandad’s legacy that Spirit of Shankly have helped arrange this tournament. This is something special that will help honour his memory in a fitting manner. Playing in Ayrshire makes it doubly special.”
After the tournament there will be a visit to Glenbuck and the SOS plaque. Lifelong Liverpool fan Jimmy Flowers, who arrange the first organised fan trip and plaque at Glenbuck said: "Credit to both Spirit of Shankly and East Ayrshire Council, a massive well done for all the hard work."