The inaugural Spirit of Shankly Cup took place at the Barony Campus last week with eight under-13 teams from East Ayrshire and Liverpool taking part in the tournament.

Before the pandemic, representatives from the Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool FC Supporters’ Union, had approached East Ayrshire Council hoping to organise a competition to celebrate the life of the great Bill Shankly.

Teams from Crosshouse Boys Club, Cumnock Juniors, Stewarton Annick and Townhead Thistle pulled on their boots to represent East Ayrshire, while Liverpool was represented by Dynamo Childwall, Kingsthorne Warriors, Parkview Colts and South Liverpool.

The tournament was Champions League style with two sections of four teams playing three games each. Once the section games were completed, the top four teams from both sections competed for the Shankly Cup and the third and fourth in each section competed for the Shankly Shield.

After two very competitive semi-finals Dynamo Childwall and Kingsthorne made the Shankly Cup final and Crosshouse and Stewarton made the Shankly Shield final.

Both finals were played with great spirit. The Shankly Cup winners were Kingsthorne and the Shankly Shield winners were Stewarton Annick.

Depute Provost Claire Leitch, who cheered on the teams, said: “I was delighted to attend the inaugural Spirit of Shankly tournament at The Barony Campus and to meet friends old and new from Liverpool. The Spirit of Shankly has worked closely with the council before recognising the achievements and life of the great Bill Shankly.

“Bill Shankly was born in the small village of Glenbuck, near to Muirkirk, and became one of our greatest and most inspirational football managers, achieving success with Liverpool FC.We have erected a monument in his honour within Glenbuck but like so many things, the pandemic meant we had to put plans for a football tournament on hold.

“It was incredibly special for everyone to be together again and pay tribute to such a great man. The connection between Liverpool and East Ayrshire will always be strong and now there are friendships and connections between a whole new generation.

“Bill Shankly lives on through his family, the high regard that football fans hold him in, and through the next generation playing in a tournament in his name. I hope this competition is the first of many!”

Stephen Monaghan from the Spirit of Shankly group added: “Shankly’s legacy has created an unbreakable bond between communities in East Ayrshire and in Liverpool. His values are as important today, as they were 60 years ago and this tournament is an amazing tribute to him.”