Monday, 19 December 2011


Wednesday 28th December at 8.55pm on BBC ALBA

In January 2011, Kenny Dalglish made headlines when he was reappointed manager of his beloved Liverpool FC for the second time, in a glittering forty year career.

In the year that he also celebrated his 60th birthday, BBC ALBA’s exclusive ‘King Kenny - Sgeulachd Dalglish’ tribute documentary looks back at the life and achievements of one of the most outstanding sportsmen Scotland has ever produced and also reveals his lesser known charity work in the Western Isles, which he undertakes with his wife Marina.

Having recovered from breast cancer, Marina Dalglish devotes her time to fundraising, much of it carried out with her husband. Their voluntary work has extended to the islands where, since 2004, they have had a regular commitment to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway. Kenny’s golf games and auctions have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years. The documentary witnesses the couple in Stornoway, and hears from locals and hospice staff how their special tie with the islands has evolved.

Carol Somerville, manager of Bethesda, speaks warmly of how the player has changed the hospice: “You only have to mention his name, and people light up. When there is a patient well enough, we might ask if they want to meet him - and they do. Even just having a photograph taken – memories are so important for the families and this is another little memory for them to have. But he doesn't think of himself as a ‘celebrity’. When you mention the word he turns round and says ‘who?’.”

2011 also brought fresh reminders of darker days for Kenny Dalglish, as the Hillsborough tragedy came into focus once more. An online petition of 140,000 signatures led to an emotional debate in the House of Commons in October, when Home Secretary Theresa May announced that all documents related to the disaster would be released, following a report by an independent panel. The programme recalls the events of April 1989, when Kenny Dalglish acted not only as manager for the Club but effectively caretaker for Merseyside's countless grieving, after 96 fans lost their lives in the stadium crush.

In a moving interview with the mother of one young victim, the depth of Dalglish's deep-seated bond with Merseyside becomes apparent. Margaret Aspinall lost her 18 year old son, James, in the tragedy.

Recalling the day he died, Mrs Aspinall pays tribute to Kenny Dalglish for the private, long-term support he offered the mourning: “He gave a great deal of comfort. Kenny didn't know it at the time. But I just know what the families think of him. And he's still there for us. We loved him before then, we needed him at that time - and we still love Kenny, now.”

At key moments, the documentary pulls back the curtain to recall Kenny Dalglish’s astounding record on the pitch, ever since he was first earmarked by Celtic FC as a young boy growing up on a Glasgow housing estate. Former team mates Graeme Souness and Danny McGrain pay personal tribute, with appealing archive including accolades from Bill Shankly, and Jock Stein.

“On the pitch, he was just the best I ever played with - he was the King" - Graeme Souness.

Produced by Sorbier Productions for BBC ALBA, ‘King Kenny - Sgeulachd Dalglish’ will be broadcast on Wednesday 28 December at 8.55pm.