Stan Hey: Loyalty can't turn back the clock

Dalglish can't roll back the clock to a time when Liverpool was owned by Liverpool people

Share
Related Topics

There used to be a well-known graffito on an advert in a Liverpool street in the 1960s. A poster for the Salvation Army which bore the slogan "Jesus Saves" had been decorated with: "But St John Scores from the Rebound".

The reference to Liverpool's centre-forward, Ian St John, displayed three arteries of the city's heart – football, humour and religion. And though, as in most English cities, religion is in decline, the return of Kenny Dalglish to the managership of Liverpool Football Club has something spiritual, perhaps even Messianic, about it, at least to the fans, if not to the man himself.

Dalglish was unquestionably the greatest player the club has known, and he then enjoyed six successful seasons as first a player-manager, then as manager alone, in 15 years of service to the club.

Liverpool fans wanted him back because of that success, but they also need what they hope will be Dalglish's powers of healing.

The team's history since 1990 – the last time they won the Championship under Dalglish – has been marked by a sequence in which the club has become lost to its fans. Managers such as Frenchman Gérard Houllier and Spaniard Rafa Benitez brought some success and even understood the holistic bond between team, fans and owners – Benitez's last act before his departure was to donate £96,000 to the Hillsborough Fund, the figure symbolising the 96 people who died in the horrendous crush at Sheffield Wednesday's ground in 1989. But Dalglish knows more. He was manager on the day, witnessed the turmoil and then attended every funeral, every memorial service and attended inquests and Lord Justice Taylor's Judicial Enquiry.

His instinctive response was almost that of a clan chief with a natural sense of duty. The grieving broke him temporarily – he left the club abruptly in 1991, citing stress – but he maintained his links despite periods spent elsewhere.

Dalglish also taps into the notion of devoted service. He succeeded a trio of dedicated Liverpool managers, the mystic Bill Shankly, who restored the club's fortunes in the 1960s; Bob Paisley, the quiet man from Durham who served the club for 44 years, winning three European Cups; and Joe Fagan, a cheerful Scouser, who won a European Cup winner in his first season.

Liverpool, as a city, loves those who stay loyal to it, with long-serving MPs such as Bessie Braddock (1945-1969) and Harold Wilson (1950-83), established in folklore, alongside various writers, artists, comedians or musicians. These people define the city to the outside world and those who stay are fêted slightly more than those who move away, such is the tribal instinct of the population.

Dalglish belongs in this tradition of local commitment. Despite jobs elsewhere, he kept a home in the city and can claim a last link with the famous Boot Room, the club's equivalent of the Parliamentary Whips' Office. It was a place where plots, players, disciplines, transfers and strategies were discussed over cups of tea and the occasional glass of Scotch.

Off the field, Dalglish has been a joint patron with his wife Marina, a breast cancer survivor, of a fund supporting the oncology department of the new University Hospital at Aintree. Charity golf days are easily organised from his home on the "football coast", the sandy stretch from Formby to Southport which is studded with links courses and footballers' mansions.

For the time being, Dalglish will concentrate on upgrading the Liverpool team and keeping civil links with the club's latest American owners. But he can't roll back the clock to a time when Liverpool was owned by Liverpool people. In taking this temporary position he must hope that some alchemical wisdom from his past will transform the warmth of his return, and the yearning of the fans, into something golden for both the team and the city.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform