YESTERDAY was a landmark occasion for red- blooded football fanatics like myself. A century ago on January 23, Bob Paisley was born.

In the modern-day history of Liverpool FC there are myriad and well-merited tales of derring-do of Bill Shankly, Paisley’s predecessor as Liverpool manager.

Shankly, the firebrand Scot with a socialist soul, was credited with the renaissance of a club that he declared was housed in the “biggest toilet” on Merseyside on his arrival at Anfield in 1959.

The fact that within a matter of a few years Shankly had initiated a red revolution from the bottom to the top is without doubt.

But equally as certain was that the Bishop Auckland-born Paisley had been at Anfield long before the arrival of Shankly, serving as one of Liverpool’s most unsung heroes as a player.

He was an integral part of the Anfield boot-room that still holds a place in the club’s folklore. Then when Shankly retired to the shock of many Reds’ fans, it was to Paisley that Liverpool turned. They did not go for a big name from outside.

The powers that be began the seamless transition of promoting from within, a policy that yielded untrammelled success and led to the successful post-Paisley reigns of Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish.

It was only when that legacy was broken by bringing in Graeme Souness from managing at another club – albeit he was a Liverpool playing legend – that the magic was fractured. That fissure has never truly been healed, even including an unparalleled fifth European Cup conquest on that most magnificent of phosphorous Bosphorous nights in Istanbul just less than a decade ago.

Yet when Paisley stepped out of the Cagney-esque shadow of Shankly few thought he would be able to match the talismanic, inspirational Scot.

Paisley, however, despite being viewed as a cardigan-wearing, avuncular uncle figure, not alone replicated the success of the Shankly era but created new teams that went on to register even greater glories.

The first Reds European Cup triumph was posted in 1977, followed by an historic two more for a hat-trick not matched by any other European manager save for Carlo Ancelotti.

At the same time, there was a flurry of top-tier titles – yes, folks, football flourished before the money-laden trains of hype otherwise known as Sky Sports and the Premier League – and a record number of League Cup wins. It was said during Paisley’s reign that Wembley was regarded as Liverpool’s away ground.

Besides his serial trophy-seizing, his assiduous judgment of players’ potential was startling.

He converted Shankly’s last signing, striker Ray Kennedy, into one of the most elegant midfielders in Europe.

Another example of the Paisley Midas touch was spotting a raw teenager by the name of Ian Rush at lowly Chester and helping to transform him into one of world football’s most coveted marksmen.

For all his accomplishments, indeed the bizarre non-recognition of such, Paisley was never rewarded in the way those managers of rivals Manchester United – Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson – were.

Both were made knights of the realm, Paisley, meanwhile, got an OBE.

Now, as a staunch republican I have no truck with honours, birthday or otherwise.

And veering on a slight tangent, how even more archaic it is of royalty that the reigning monarch should have not one, but two birth - days? It’s not as if she needs the extra presents, surely.

But for all the dubious merits of awards from the ruling queen, it occasionally rankles that Paisley, a man who saw gruelling military action that included the battle of Monte Cassino in World War Two, was never knighted when others of lesser achievement were.

Still, us Reds fans know that while Paisley may never have been a “Sir”, uncle Bob lorded it over the rest. So here’s to you on your centenary.


LESS deserving of celebration, in fact worthy of outright commiseration, was the news that greeted York’s sporting fans in Wednesday’s edition of The Press.

The latest development in the saga of the city’s community stadium - earmarked to home York City and York City Knights - was that work on building said edifice had been delayed.

Earlier reports that work would begin in March for an expected completion - hurrah, hurrah - in the summer of 2016, initially put the date to autumn, though the day after that was subject to another revision back to the original summer timeline.

More and more the whole episode smacks of watch this space.