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The Story Of The Bob Paisley Memorial PDF Print E-mail
Written by Barnieslad   
Monday, 22 September 2008

How the legend Of Bob Paisley became set in stone....


The Bob Paisley Memorial came about after a discussion between members of the Fans Forum in the Salisbury pub on Walton Breck road, near Liverpool’s ground. It was the Christmas party on Saturday 1st December 2007 and we were talking about a previous trip to Glenbuck to see Bill Shankly’s memorial. It had needled me ever since that trip that Bob Paisley didn’t have a similar memorial so I took the bold step of announcing that I would look into it to see if anything was up there for Bob and if there wasn’t, I suggested we built one. Straight away the chorus of ‘PAISLEY – PAISLEY’ near lifted the roof off and some of the lads approached me right away to get the ball rolling. John Marquis, Tony Magill and Glynn Jones offered their help so we started to talk about this idea more seriously. The very first thing we thought we’d do was to see what the Paisley family thought about a memorial and also what the people of Hetton-le-Hole thought about it. Tony had a contact for the Paisley family, Glynn said he’d contact the council in Hetton and by the following Monday morning both parties had been contacted.

I spoke with Bob’s son Graham Paisley who said the family would be delighted to have a memorial built and Glynn had spoken with the Hetton Town Clerk John Price who said it was a great idea, which the council would fully support. We assured John Price that we would pay for this memorial ourselves via a public campaign for funding from the general support of LFC and he agreed to meet with us to further our discussions.

On Boxing Day 2007, Beverley Jervis and myself visited Hetton-le-Hole to see what the place was like, speak to the local people and have a look for possible sites for the memorial. The local people, on hearing of our idea, were more than welcoming and offered us all the help and support we needed. On looking around the town we were very impressed. We spoke with dozens of people and visited quite a few pubs including the Bob Paisley Bar situated next to the old Eppleton Colliery Pitch, which is now renovated and used for Sunderland reserve fixtures among other matches. The bar was named in Bob’s honour after public consultation so the pride in Bob Paisley was obviously there. It seemed like everybody wanted to see this memorial built.

Now that we were dealing with a council about a public memorial, we decided to get ourselves organised into a committee. As it was me that proposed the idea, I was made Chairman and my very good friend and co-owner of Peter Etherington was made Vice Chair. I couldn’t get the time off work to attend the meeting in the north east so Peter went up there along with Glynn Jones (Secretary), Beverley Jervis (Administrator) and John Marquis (Treasurer). Bev had prepared a presentation for the council, which outlined our plans to publicly fund the memorial. After this meeting our committee and six members of Hetton council walked around the town to view possible sites. Far and away the best place for it was in Hetton Mini Park, which contained the town’s war memorial.

After the successful meeting we decided to organise the fund raising effort. A bank account, P.O Box number and paypal account were set up and all of the supporters clubs where contacted. T shirts were designed by two other committee members, Tony Magill and Phil Pryce, with all profits going to the fund. Although we where using onthekop as a base for the campaign we set up our own dedicated website for T shirt sales and fund raising event publicity.

Liverpool FC.TV had heard of our intentions and we were approached for an interview which was shown on Thursday 28th February and on the following Friday we launched our appeal proper.

Support for our idea was fantastic and pretty soon the donations started coming in. Robbie Ashcroft was an invaluable member of the committee during this time by helping to spread the word far and wide. We wanted the general LFC support to know about this and thanks to Robbie and our friends at LFC.TV that’s exactly what happened. The Spirit of Shankly football supporters union backed us and we had messages of support from fans around the world.

A fundraiser night was held at The Sandon pub, the birthplace of LFC, with appearances from such local talent as Nicky Alt, Peter Etherington, Nev Skelly, Chris Moran and Dave Kirby. Top prizes in the raffle were a signed shirt from the then recent Inter Milan v Liverpool fixture and a signed photograph of Bob himself donated by the Paisley family. Our friends at donated a mountain of signed memorabilia and Gerry from the HJC came along with tons of special items.

While all this was going on another committee member, Kev Lynch was our man in the north east. Kev is a member of the north east supporters club and lives up there so he was a great help when things needed doing in Hetton.

Over the next few months the campaign was kept in peoples minds by our website updates, TV and Radio interviews and the press in Liverpool and the North East area.

During the campaign we worked with Hetton council to put everything together to make our plans a reality. We drafted in another member of our committee, Andrew Swift. Andrew is a designer and drew up the plans to put forward to Sunderland City Council for planning permission, which went through without a hitch. Hetton council expedited this for us and paid for the application so that it went though in double quick time.

As Tony Magill is a builder, we detailed him and Andrew Swift to source the builder. The brief was that he had to be local to Hetton and would put a bit of extra pride in his work and we got just that with Dave Jefferson and sons.

Glynn Jones and Bev Jervis had already found the people to supply and engrave the granite tablet that would be the centrepiece of the memorial. Crown Memorials did this for us and it turned out that Crowns premises used to be a builders’ merchants in the old days and actually employed a very young Bob Paisley!

The fundraising went very well indeed and a lot of fans did their own thing to help us out, for example a group of supporters in Ireland who use the website held their own football tournament – The Bob Paisley Memorial Cup. Supporters in Northern Ireland also held raffles and functions to raise funds, most notably the Coleraine Supporters Club who very kindly invited us along to their annual dinner dance to make a substantial donation.

As time drew on towards the summer we were ready to build so it was just now a question of when to unveil it. This is when we got the help we never expected from the Premier League. The first Liverpool fixture of the new season was to be Sunderland away! We could not turn down that date as Sunderland is only 8 miles from Hetton-le-Hole so the stage was set. We finished our fundraising and Dave Jefferson did a grand job in having the memorial ready for the big day – August 16th 2008.

As we expected, quite a few coaches of Liverpool fans turned up along with a good number of proud locals. The occasion was graced by the presence of Hetton Mayor Mrs J Heron and the Paisley family were very well represented by Bob’s eldest son Robert and Bobs brother Hughie among many others. The whole council turned out and some lovely speeches were delivered, most notably by Robert Paisley. As the memorial was unveiled a chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone reverberated around Hetton-le-Hole.

We had done it. We had built a memorial for Bob Paisley in his home town, and what an emotional day it was.

The Bob Paisley Memorial Committee were:

Ian Graves      John Marquis      
Peter Etherington   Tony Magill
Beverley Jervis   Glynn Jones
Andrew Swift      Phil Pryce
Robbie Ashcroft   Kevin Lynch
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