Tony Wilson on Liverpool's Shankly Giving Players Speed

From the Jack mag archives here's the Factory Records man on Liverpool's Shankly, Drugs, Sophia Loren, Steve Coogan and being knobbled by Manchester United's Nobby Styles
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From the Jack mag archives here's the Factory Records man on Liverpool's Shankly, Drugs, Sophia Loren, Steve Coogan and being knobbled by Manchester United's Nobby Styles

From the Jack magazine archives read the late great Tony Wilson on meeting Liverpool's Bill Shankly, Manchester United's Nobby Stiles and many many more stars of screen and stage.

Bill Shankly

Another great person I met. Again, equal charisma, equal strength, equal power, the greatest football manager, in my opinion, ever is Bill Shankly. Not only just a good manager at the time because he created a dynasty that lasted 20 years later, in his style. And I was very privileged to spend a couple of afternoons of my life with him. And then strangely I was actually filming in Liverpool when the awful news came through that he'd died. And I had to go out on the streets of Liverpool and do voxpops. Most famous documentaries feature footage of this scouse kid going, "Can't be! Can't be!" My best memory of Bill is when I said to him, "How do you get such control as you do over your players?" And he said, "Well Tony, when they've been with me for a couple of weeks I get hold of them by the collar and I look at them in the eye and say, 'I know you'." And I just turned to water! And also with my rock 'n' roll background it's very nice to know he was one of those great managers in the Fifties who used to feed their players amphetamine sulphate to get the best out of them! It's also the only drug that actually increases your IQ, strangely.

John Prescott

Played against him at football. God, he was rubbish. I mean, I'm rubbish but he was really bad. This was at Staleybridge Celtic, more years ago than I care to remember. What I do recall with rushing clarity is Prescott lumbering about, going past him a few times, and at some point on one of those occasions me feeling this absolute crash from behind my legs and being brought down, really pounded to the floor, and I looked up and there was now a 48 year old Nobby Styles saying, "Are you alright?"

Sophia Loren

That was one of the joys of being a journalist. She was in town pushing a book or a perfume. She was just... she was charming... and very funny. Halfway through the interview I pointed out to her that she had a ladder in her stockings and that it was very attractive. So there was a certain amount of intimacy, which was very sweet. One of the problems with me is that in interviews there has to be a bit of, well, chemistry I suppose, and one of the problems in my life isn't that my partner doesn't like it when that happens. But I think you have to have that. I just thought she was fantastic. Utterly delightful.

George Harrison

He was in Manchester, I think he was coming in to look at something in the Granada archive. So we decided to sit him in front of a Steinbeck, the old film editing machines, and show him original Beatles footage that Granada shot when they used that stage set, in Studio One or Three, which is now the mail room at Granada. That was where they shot first ever footage of the band, against a backdrop of the Liverpool Daily Post front page. That was a nice moment.


Ian Curtis

I think everything has been said about Ian and nothing's been said. I mythically met Ian one night when he came and sat next to me on a bench during a gig at Rafters in Manchester. He said, "You fucking bastard!" That was his opening line and I said, "What's your fucking problem?" And he said, "You've not put us on television." At that point in '77 or '78 punk was at its peak and I said, "There's a queue." In fact, he didn't know it, but I'd already decided that this band who had just changed their name to Joy Division was going to be the next band. And sure enough a few weeks later we did do it. I remember I was wearing a brown velvet suit, they looked pretty good. Barney looked so young, and they played 'Shadowplay'.

Shaun Ryder

Mr Ryder! Oh God, yeah! I was listening to a Bob Dylan album the other day, and whenever I hear this line... OK, I'll start at the beginning. There was a Disorder party at the Hacienda in late 1988. It was in the basement; Arthur Baker says it was one of the best parties he's ever been to. And about three in the morning, Shaun came up to talk to me, and crouched in front of me, and said this one line, this Dylan line: "He isn't selling you any alibi/As you look into the emptiness of his eyes" or something. I just heard that line again the other day and it's just always Shaun Ryder.

Steve Coogan

I've known Steve a long, long time. We used to work together on the late debate show on Granada in 1990. That was Steve doing a commentary on the week as himself. He is a fucking genius, but at that time he was basically doing anything to get himself on television and to get used to live television. It was very strange doing all the promo work for 24 Hour Party People where I had to sit next to him, doing interviews in America and Canada, and people ask how he did me so well and he starts saying, "It's very easy because I've done the accent since I was a kid and it's the arms, the hand movements." He starts moving his arms around and I start to move mine around in exactly the same way so we're a kind of mirror image. I think the kid's great, I think he's ultra-professional. And no, you can't use a picture of me when I was with him on 24 Hour Party People because how bloody fat and crumpled did I look at that time?

And also with my rock 'n' roll background it's very nice to know Shankly was one of those great managers in the Fifties who used to feed their players amphetamine sulphate to get the best out of them!

The Manchester United Treble

I'm a kid from Salford and I've been going to Old Trafford from the age of eight. I started gong about two months after the Munich disaster (1958) and I've been going ever since. I utterly despise, hate, and loathe some of my fellow United supporters who are a horrible bunch. I'm quite well known for having an antagonistic relationship with these morons. I do a bit of work for a mate of mine who runs MUDSA and a few years ago I went to the annual dinner at the club, and they brought down the three trophies and an old Granada photographer - who was a dear friend of mine and is now the official United photographer - took a picture of me and my two kids! Typically, of course my daughter Isabel gets to hold the Premiership trophy, my son Oliver gets the European Cup and I get the fucking FA Challenge trophy.

Cardinal Armies

One of my favourite interviewees of all time, and a very profound one from a personal point of view was a man called Cardinal Armies. I used to always come in late for the morning meeting at Granada because I was a slob and my producers used to punish me by giving me the worst story of the day. And one day they gave me the Archbishop of Sao Paolo. Being a good Catholic boy, I thought, "Fine." I went to the cathedral and spent an hour with this very large, jovial, 70 year old prelate, who was the most charismatic thing I'd ever seen! And about ten minutes in I suddenly realised... Oh my God this is him! This is the guy. This is Mr Liberation Theology. This is the guy who has put the shits up the Vatican for the last ten years! He was just stunning! Now the highlight of this, at some point I say to him, "Are you saying that just to be rich in itself is a sin?" And he looked at me and opened his arms wide and shouted, "Yes my boy. Now you've got it!" If people think I'm bad at business - well, how can you be good at business after that!

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