On September 10th 1999, a special celebration of Bill Shankly's time at Liverpool was held in the city's Moat House Hotel. The theme of the evening was the unveiling of the greatest eleven players to play for Liverpool under Shankly's management.
The initiative was the brainchild of The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, and the idea was put to its readers, who over a period of time, submitted the names of the players who they deemed worthy of selection to an 'All-time' Shankly eleven.
Some readers submitted individual names whilst others named a whole team and the result was the biggest ever sporting poll conducted by the Echo.
In his 15 years as manager, Shankly used the incredibly low number of 69 players. Many of these players, perhaps inevitably, played only a handful of games. As a marker of how dramatically the game has changed, it's an amazing statistic
Emlyn Hughes, Liverpool's captain from 1973-78 gave an inspirational and typically emotional speech, saying "We have seen what Manchester United have achieved in recent years, but they will never, ever match Liverpool F.C., which is still the greatest club in the world."
Of those selected for the greatest team, only Kevin Keegan, Ray Clemence and Ian St. John were unable to attend but they each sent individual messages of support. Mrs. Nessie Shankly, Bill's wife, also sent a message saying how proud she was that Bill's boys were together again.
*Although undoubtedly a Liverpool all time great, Billy Liddell did not feature in the greatest Shankly side because he only played a very small number of matches for Liverpool in Bill's early days at the club.
On 12 July 1974 I was at school in Sandfield Park, right next to Bill and Nessie Shankly's house. When the rumour spread that Our Messiah had retired incredulity, denial, fear, and a whole host of other emotions ran unchecked through the classrooms. At the end of the day, a day of media frenzy, a group left St Edward's College, walked through the Park and climbed over the wall at the end of Sandforth Close and walked on up to Bill's purple front door. Wearing blazers to match, and summoning every ounce of courage, the bravest of our group knocked at the door.
Nessie answered and was asked "Is Bill there, please?" by the 12 year-olds assembled. The great man came out.
"Have you retired, Bill?"
"Aye, son. I have."
"Aah, eh, Bill."
"Aah don't. Please, Bill."
"Aah, I'm sorry son."
And the moment ended with Bill signing his autograph on all manner of paper, though not our exercise books or we would all have been in trouble with masters at our rugby playing school who simply wouldn't have understood the significance."