'I'm Proud That Bill Shankly Was My Grandad' Tony Barrett Talks to Karen Gill about Her New Book on What It Was like to Live with a Legend
Byline: Tony Barrett
IMAGINE growing up and hearing thousands of grown men singing your grandad's name and hanging on his every word.
Imagine your grandad taking you to an ice cream parlour on a Sunday afternoon, only for the quiet family outing to be disrupted by scores of his adoring fans.
And imagine being chatted up as a teenager and thinking how great it is to be popular, only for it to turn out that your suitors were really interested in meeting your grandad.
This was the reality of Karen Gill's childhood. But then, Karen's grandad was the late, great Bill Shankly and hers was no ordinary childhood.
Now, 25 years on from the death of the legendary Liverpool manager, Karen has decided to lift the lid on life in the family of one of football's most charismatic characters.
The Real Bill Shankly is a truly wonderful read for any football fan, complete with many previously unheard anecdotes, supporters stories and exclusive family photographs of Shankly at work and at home.
But what made Karen write the story now?
"I think partly it's because I'm now at a certain age (41) when I want to discover why I am the way I am and where I come from," says Karen.
"And I think I also want my two children to understand why their great grandfather is so adored by people in Liverpool and beyond."
Karen now lives in Athens with her husband and two children. She actually left this country to teach English in Greece in 1988 and has lived in the capital ever since.
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, in Karen's case it has also reawakened her latent interest in the Shankly legend.
She says: "It's funny that I had to go halfway around the world to realise just how much he meant to people.
"What really inspired me was a meeting with the Athens branch of the Liverpool supporters club. I met men who were not even born when Bill Shankly was Liverpool manager but they absolutely adored him.
"I think from that point on I knew I had to do something to help people remember my g randad."
Karen's mum, Barbara, was the daughter of Bill and Nessie Shankly. Her dad, Victor Gill, was a Liverpool youth player who met Barbara while on the Reds' books during the Shankly era.
Few people got as close to Shankly as Karen did. But in the book she admits that it took her some time to come to terms with the fact that she had to share her grandad with the people of Liverpool.
"I don't think when you're young you have the ability to appreciate somebody famous in the family. …