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Bertie Mee said to Bill Shankly, have you heard of the North Bank, Highbury? Shanks said no, I don’t think so, but I’ve heard of the Longside, Burnley.

That’s how the long standing Burnley song goes and I’m sure many of our younger fans, some of whom have actually changed Mee to Bee in the song, won’t have a clue who Bertie Mee and Bill Shankly were. Mee was the manager of the Arsenal team who won the Football League & FA Cup double in 1970/71 while Shankly, so often referred to just as Shanks, was Liverpool manager from the late 1950s until 1974 when, out of the blue, he chose to retire. He took the club from the old Second Division to become one of the best teams in England.

clarets for foodbanks 1He was, in all fairness, a bit eccentric and definitely obsessive. It was Shanks who said that football was more important than life or death. It was Shanks who said there were two great teams in the City, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves. But he was adored by the Liverpool fans and he adored them. Peter Robinson, at the time secretary of Liverpool, once said that if Shanks told the fans to charge the Mersey Tunnel and invade Birkenhead, they would willingly have done so.

I once saw him described as a man of the people and undoubtedly he was always proud of those who supported his beloved Liverpool. He would definitely have been proud of them this weekend, along with the blue half of the City, when Burnley FC Supporters Groups launched Clarets for Foodbanks.

The initiative, which has been in the making during the summer, has seen us form this partnership with Burnley Community Kitchen who in turn are part of Burnley FC in the Community. The local foodbank is part of the Community Kitchen and the plan is to collect food items on match days to help them to help those local people in most need.

Dave (left) & Ian (right) at a collection point
Dave (left) & Ian (right) at a collection point

Supporters at a number of clubs are getting involved now and on day one for us, all the volunteers came from West Yorkshire Clarets who donned the ‘Clarets for Foodbanks’ bibs, wheeled their bins to four different locations and then received donations from many supporters making their way to the Turf.

As we tried to publicise the launch during the week, it was first picked up by Dave Kelly from The Blue Union at Everton. Dave is also the chair of Fans for Foodbanks which is a joint initiative with the Liverpool fans’ group Spirit of Shankly. Dave quickly got the ball moving for us and within no time, given the responses, I think half of Liverpool knew what we were doing.

It didn’t stop there. By the time the bins were wheeled out on Saturday afternoon, Dave had already arrived with a donation and to offer his support while Ian Byrne, from Spirit of Shankly, arrived soon afterwards. He and the Liverpool fans made a big contribution that, besides the food, included a cash donation of £250.

Tony Scholes, who is coordinating Clarets for Foodbanks said: “Overall, day one was a success and we have so many people to thank.

“Firstly to our supporters from West Yorkshire Clarets who took on the challenge of being the first volunteers. They did a terrific job for us on a day when we weren’t always certain what we were doing.

“We can’t thank Dave, Ian and everyone from Merseyside enough.  They were  so supportive on the day, while adding their Scouse humour to the occasion, and finally to every single person who made a donation, a very big thank you. It will make a difference to the work Burnley Community Kitchen are able to do for those in our area who are most need.”

Look out for the bins at the Norwich game on 21st September. Representatives from London Clarets will be manning them.

To keep up with news from Clarets for Foodbanks, keep your eye on this website and if you are a Twitter user, please follow Up the Clarets and Burnley FC Supporters Groups at @utcdotcom & @burnleyfcsg who will be the first with the news.

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