Mr. Ian Graves recounts what brought about their decision to make a worthy memorial for Bob Paisley in his hometown, Hetton-le-Hole.
In the summer of 2007, Mr. Graves and a few like-minded Reds who use the supporters website www.onthekop.com went to Glenbuck to see the memorial to Bill Shankly.
"It was more of a pilgrimage really and it struck us that only Liverpool supporters could do something like that to pay homage to one of our greats. Last Christmas, thoughts turned to where to visit next and the obvious choice was Hetton-le-Hole, the birth place of Bob Paisley. I looked into it and found that the only memorial to the great man in his hometown was a small plaque high on the wall of one of Bob's former schools. Our immediate thought was that the supporters of Liverpool Football Club may be able to improve on that. If a memorial exists for Bill Shankly at the town of his birth then Bob Paisley should be honoured in the same way."
Mr. Graves and his companions approached the Paisley family in Liverpool with their idea to construct a memorial to Bob in Hetton-le-Hole. The Paisley family were delighted with the idea. Hetton Town Council were really impressed and in early January invited the Reds to Hetton to meet some of the local councillors and show them around a few potential sites for the proposed memorial. Meetings with stone masons and construction firms in the Hetton-le-Hole area were also set up.
An appeal fund was opened, fund raising nights were organized and t-shirts sold. Ian and his 12-year-old son, Jack Graves, did a sponsored walk up England's highest peak, Scafell Pike.
In the end enough funds were raised through the "Bob Paisley Memorial Committee" to unveil a fantastic memorial to Bob on 16th of August 2008 before Liverpool's opening day win at Sunderland.
Bob's brother and son, along with locals and Reds fans alike packed the picturesque Hetton Minipark square to honour Paisley.
Mr. Graves spoke before the ceremony in the Bob Paisley bar, next to Eppleton Colliery FC where Bob used to play: "I'm delighted so many have turned out to honour Bob, such a humble but brilliant man, because he is a welcome reminder of what football should be about. This is football and community in its purest essence and it's all come from the supporters and the people of Hetton. We wouldn't have done it if the locals didn't want it – we just turned up here last Christmas and started asking them in the pubs what they thought. They were all delighted and even said they couldn't believe they hadn't thought of it themselves – the first donations were from Hetton people. They're working class people like us, as Bob was, and with football getting away from the working classes as it is nowadays, everyone felt it was important to do this. You can't get near managers these days but Bob always had time for everyone – that's why everyone loved him so much.
I'd like to thank everyone who's given their time and money to make this happen, including my own 12-year-old son Jack who did a sponsored walk up England's highest peak, Scafell Pike, to raise funds. We must also pay a special tribute to John Price and everyone from Hetton council, without whose tireless work and cooperation this would not have been possible."
Bob's brother, Hughie, who is in his late-eighties, said: "It's lovely to see so many of the Liverpool supporters here. I used to be a Sunderland fan until they refused to sign our Bob – since then it's been Liverpool every inch of the way.
Robert Paisley, Bob's son, was also present: "We're very appreciative of all the hard work that has gone in to making this happen, it shows a lot of people can still relate to the kind of man my father was and it makes us very proud."
Peter Etherington, who organised the committee's fundraising night in February at the Sandon pub in Anfield and read a poem by Chris Moran at the unveiling ceremony, said "We're all made up everything's panned out well, it's been nine months of hard work but it was all worth it for that moment when it was unveiled – it really is a beautiful and worthy monument to the great man. I thought we'd maybe get a few locals and handful of Reds on their way up to the match here but to get so many people turn out is absolutely brilliant and shows how well thought of Bob, a true man of the people, was."
Liverpool-born Lawrence Price said, "I've lived up here for many years but have always remained a Red and went to see Bob when he brought the League and European Cup trophies to Hetton in 1977: "I met Bob briefly afterwards and he asked me where I lived now. I told him the name of the village nearby, Belmont, to which Bob, who was a bricklayer before his football career, proudly replied 'I built that!'"
The Bob Paisley Memorial Committee deserve our admiration for their work:
John Marquis, Glynn Jones, Tony Magill, Kevin Lynch, Beverley Jervis, Robbie Ashcroft, Phil Pryce, Andrew Swift, Peter Etherington and Ian Graves.
If you would like to visit the Bob Paisley memorial, the nearest post code for it is DH5 9NE. That's the 'Paisley Bar' post code. It's in the center of Hetton-le-Hole, which is sign posted on the A1(M) from north or south near junction 62.
Click on the image to enlarge (photo provided by Ian Graves)
"I remember the Ulstermen packing their penalty area at Anfield and making it extremely difficult for us to find the space to create chances. One of their players lost a contact lens during the game and I told him, 'There's only one place it will be - in the penalty area!"
Liverpool faced Crusaders on their way to the European Cup final in Rome in 1977. Bob Paisley was not impressed.