Thelma McGough meets Graeme Souness & Bill Shankly

Oh, a funny incident in the Liverpool office, long before there was like big, proper studios. Sometimes you’d have people come in to be interviewed and there were two sound guys there, that’s all I remember. And I remember Graeme Souness came in for an interview, and he was… there was a stand mic. I can’t recall who was interviewing him, but somebody was interviewing him on camera. And he kept knocking the sound mic, and this guy in the sound department – sound department, sounds very grand, but there were only two of them and a vision mixer – came out and kept telling him off. And in the end, Graeme Souness turned round and said, “Fuck off!” in his Scottish accent. It was really, really funny. I met him at Cilla’s 70th birthday, Graeme Souness. He and I were sat on the same table, his third wife was with him and reminded him of it but he’d forgotten. So that was amusing. What else can I tell you? Oh, the highlights! The highlights. Let me see what the highlights were. Ah, yes. When I was working in the Liverpool office, I had a phone call saying they wanted an interview with Bill Shankly. Because Elton Welsby, I think it was, was the sports reporter and he was tied up doing something else. So I was appointed to do it. Well, my cousin used to play for Liverpool in the 1950’s, 1952 I think, and my grandmother was –

What’s his name?
Brian Williams. He then went to Tranmere Rovers. And my grandmother was such a big fan that the Liverpool Echo did a big spread on her. Mrs Crane at 84, still goes to all the games. So Shankly was revered in our family. So it was like someone meeting Elvis, or… I don’t know who the modern equivalent would be. And I had to go to his house to do this interview, I think it was ’78, it might have been a European Cup match he was to comment on, or a forthcoming match. I absolutely starstruck. And there I was, mid-thirties, like a teenager or a rock concert or like someone might be with John Lennon. I went to his house in Sandfield Park and Nessie, his jolly wife, invited me in and we all went through the house. We interviewed him in the garden. And apart from being star struck, because he was Bill Shankly, I was also… I also felt that it was a bit ground-breaking. There was I, and no one – a woman anyway – had done any sports news, and I knew my voice would be heard off camera. So it felt really ground-breaking and terrifying for that reason. But I couldn’t tell you what questions I asked him, I literally was so overawed – and I’d met a lot of famous, celebrity type people by that stage. But that was that was the biggest.

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