Drama and football become united in The Bill Shankly Story as it reveals a unique insight into the man and the ultimate Anfield legend.
The play makes a special one night appearance at the Liverpool Empire on Monday 14 December this year.
Ayrshire-born Shankly is, of course, the former Liverpool Football Club manager, but also regarded an all-time great in the history of British and European club football.
However, his achievements on the pitch were equally as fascinating as his story off the pitch and those people who were fortunate to meet, work and know him have many tales to tell.
One of those people is journalist John Keith, who has written the script and produced this touring show which features past LFC footballers from the Shankly era.
He said: “Something unbelievably spooky has happened because the date the production is being staged at the Liverpool Empire is the exact date Shanks took charge of his first Liverpool training session fifty years ago and it was also on a Monday. It’s as though Shanks has engineered this from above!”
“When I first spoke to the Liverpool Empire they said they had a pantomime running and the 14 December date was the only free date available but this will mark the 50th anniversary Shanks took charge.”
Former Liverpool footballers Ian St John, Ron Yeats and Chris Lawler will be on stage for the show.
Keith added: “The former players are delighted to be in the show in the home city of their club and I’m sure it will get highly emotional for all of them. Shankly was over and above the game of football.”
Together they bring personal memories and anecdotes about one of football’s most charismatic managers and provide a rare insight into his life, passions and problems.
Joining them in this 2 hours and 30 minute show will be actor Steve Hazlehurst, who narrates the story from Shankly’s birth in the Ayrshire village of Glenbuck, through his glory years to his untimely death in 1981 at the age of 68.
Hazlehurst has also had rave reviews for his performance in the stage production celebrating another football hero, Everton and Tranmere Rovers’ Dixie Dean.
As a professional footballer, Shankly played nearly 300 times in the Football League for Preston North End and represented Scotland seven times.
Whilst at Liverpool as a manager, he established the club, which had been a Second Division club when he arrived, as one of the major forces in the English game. The club won three league championships, two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup under Shankly, before his surprise retirement after the 1974 FA Cup Final.
Tickets for The Bill Shankly Story cost £12-£15. Call 0844 847 2525 to book in advance.
The Dixie Dean Story appears at the Theatre Royal in St Helens on Thursday, 19 November. Tickets cost £10-£12. Call the box office on 01744 756 000. To read the Whatsonstage.com review of the show, click here