Spirit Of Shankly was created out of a spontaneous mass meeting in The Sandon of around 350 Liverpool supporters and representatives of LFC fanzines and websites to discuss the ongoing ownership crisis at the end of January. The meeting was chaired by Paul Rice and on the panel were Dave Usher, Alan Kayll, Andy Heaton, Neil Atkinson and Nicky Allt. In the meeting the ownership crisis was the central point of discussion but issues going beyond the owners were raised.
Nicky led the calls for an organisation which could bring Liverpool supporters together and speak out on their behalf on every issue and the panel and audience took up that refrain. This unique organisation was named Sons Of Shankly. In the excitement at the end of the meeting, Nicky Allt was voted chair, Neil Atkinson spokesperson and Andy Heaton, Giulio Canetti and Alan Kayll were also charged with responsibility to get the organisation moving. Many more attended the first Management Committee meeting to get involved with the movement. This led to a second meeting in February, in The Olympia Theatre, chaired by Nicky Allt and attended by about 750 where James McKenna and Neil Atkinson were both speakers and a set of aims for SOS was proposed and accepted by those who attended this meeting.
Peter Furmedge and Andy Williams set to work on a unique constitution for a unique organisation and the name was changed from Sons Of Shankly to Spirit Of Shankly. There was a second Olympia meeting in March which led to a spontaneous protest in the Anfield’s main stand car park. Nicky Allt stood down as chair due to work reasons and Neil Atkinson took over.
Spirit Of Shankly’s local and national media profile grew from its beginnings as its representatives worked to rebut the claims made – at the time – by Tom Hicks more often than not and to emphasise the duplicity in the initial statements made by both Hicks and Gillett back when they took control of the club in February 2007. The words led to actions; two large scale protests in Anfield, one digging Stanley Park, the other leading to the gates of Anfield being locked and bolted. These protests, led by James McKenna and Fran Stanton, emphasised the hollowness of Hicks and Gillett’s words and their support underlined the extent to which Liverpool supporters on the whole felt they’d be led down the garden path.
In the meantime, SOS was building into a more holistic supporters organisation. Progress was made on making travel cheaper and a massive SOS end of season benefit night took place in The Olympia. Headlined by John Head and James Walsh and including a standout performance from The Maybes?, it was a huge success – made so by the work of the SOS management committee, those performers and organisers who gave up their time and the masses of Liverpool supporters who couldn’t have enjoyed themselves more.
The RTK group then came on board, its members already members and supporters of SOS and looking to bring all supporter issues – both in ground and beyond it, under one umbrella. About a fortnight after this meeting Neil Atkinson stood down as chair for personal reasons leaving Paul Rice to take over as chair up to the AGM.
In the meantime the work to represent Liverpool supporters goes on; represent them across the board – in their dispute with the owners, to arrange cheaper travel, to confront the ticket office – ultimately to achieve the aims voted on back in February and to work in a manner worthy of the passion Liverpool supporters bring.