December 16, 2009
It has been a week for the veneration of legends. Ryan Giggs was honoured on Sunday as BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2009, voted for by the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. An additional reward was his being scoffed at by many a critic. Giggs' winning of PFA Footballer of the Year in May for season 2008-9 also happened to much consternation.
Sentiment clearly played a part in the delivery of both gongs to Giggs' Worsley mansion and it is that emotion that it is in overflowing supply over on Merseyside where Liverpool FC are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Bill Shankly at Anfield. The Scot, hewn from the type of industrial working-class background that has yielded British football its greatest leaders, casts a shadow over the club he took from the obscurity of the Second Division to the precipice of their unprecedented glory of the late 70s and early 80s.
Sunday was a day to relive all our yesterdays, as Ian St. John, Liverpool forward of the 60s, was called into the Sky studio to reminisce about the Shankly era ahead of his still-beloved team's clash with Arsenal. "Saint", previously full of anecdotes and those vocal impressions of the great man all his former charges seem to do (the word "son" gets plenty of airing amid a guttural Scots burr), ended the match looking as disconsolate as he probably did when his legendary ITV show "Saint and Greavsie" got axed in 1992. As tears welled in his eyes at Liverpool's current plight, he desperately needed Jimmy Greaves to steal in with a gag about Scottish goalkeepers to cheer him up.