Bridging the Divide: The Friendship of Dixie Dean and Bill Shankly - The Dixie Dean Hotel
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Bridging the Divide: The Friendship of Dixie Dean and Bill Shankly

Dixie Dean and Bill Shankly left behind a lasting legacy in Liverpool. And at Signature Living, we’re renowned for paying tribute to the footballing legends. The friendly rivalry between Liverpool and Everton always comes down to the age-old question: “are you a red or a blue?”.

And it’s this infectious competitive spirit that brings Liverpool’s football fans together, igniting a unique football culture and warm community. With Liverpool’s Football Quarter up and coming, take a look back at the unlikely friendship formed between former rivals Dixie Dean and Bill Shankly.

Dixie Dean

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Born in Birkenhead, William ‘Dixie’ Dean won the hearts of Liverpool when he joined Everton Football Club in 1925.

Dixie Dean became the first Everton player to wear the number-9 football shirt. And of course, the inspiring striker’s shirt went on to become iconic for the club.

Though Arsenal and Newcastle had expressed their interest in Dean, the talented player ran two and half miles to the Woodside Hotel to agree his contract with Everton.

Armed with his showstopping headers and skill for quick thinking, it didn’t take long for Dean to skyrocket to the top with football’s elite.

Dixie Dean scored 32 goals throughout 28 appearances in his first full season for Everton. And scored a record 60 league goals during the 1927-28 season.

As Sir Matt Busby put it:

““To play against Dixie Dean was at once a delight and a nightmare. He was a perfect specimen of an athlete, beautifully proportioned, with immense strength, adept on the ground but with extraordinary skill in the air.”

Bill Shankly

Bill Shankly may not have been born in Liverpool, but he certainly made the stunning maritime city his home. And his drive and passion for Liverpool Football Club has truly stood the test of time.

Most famously, Shankly said:

“Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool.”

The universal response to Shankly’s passing has been compared to the shooting of John Lennon. Following the Toxteth riots and during a period of mass unemployment, his death deeply affected the people of Liverpool and dulled their spirit.

James Corbett of The Guardian emphasised, “Shankly transcended the great Liverpool-Everton divide.”

Retirement

In fact, the Liverpool-Everton divide was unified by the duo themselves. During their retirement, Bill Shankly and Dixie Dean formed a friendship. Putting their football allegiances aside, the legendary pair enjoyed a pre-match lunch together on 1st March 1980.

Most memorably, this was the day that Dixie Dean later passed away at Goodison Park at the Merseyside Derby. Fittingly, Bill Shankly had delivered a heartwarming tribute to Dean at the lunch, which went on to become a timeless eulogy.

Shankly said:

“Dixie was the greatest centre-forward there ever will be. His record of goalscoring is the most amazing thing under the sun. He belongs in the company of the supremely great, like Beethoven, Shakespeare and Rembrandt.”

Liverpool’s Football Quarter

At Signature Living, we’re proud to have announced that Liverpool is set to get its very own Football Quarter. Liverpool’s captivating football history is truly unique. And its inclusive culture is still just as infectious today.

Following the success of The Shankly Hotel, the Dixie Dean Hotel is set to sit across the street, facing The Shankly. We already have plans underway for creating the first ‘Football Quarter’ in the world!

The Dixie Dean Hotel will follow a similar format to The Shankly Hotel, offering guests an immersive experience. The luxury hotel will feature everything from unique rooms to exclusive memorabilia donated by the Dean family.

Within the Bastion Bar & Restaurant at The Shankly Hotel, guests will find a tribute to Dixie including the famous quote. The plaque also showcases Bill Shankly’s invite to Everton’s Championship winning celebration dinner in the season of ’62/63 as well as Shankly’s Everton season ticket.

In August, we announced that the Football Quarter will also include a bronze statue of Shankly and Dean together. Chris Carline, grandson of Bill Shankly and Director at the Shankly Hotel said:

“Bill Shankly and Dixie Dean are amongst the most iconic names in football history. Whether you’re a red or a blue, both men have a special place in the hearts of the people of Merseyside. Their achievements are legendary.

“This statue will celebrate their legacy and will also mean that the stories of two sporting icons, who were good friends despite representing rival teams, can be told and remembered in future generations.

“It will be an incredibly proud day for both the Shankly and Dean families when this statue is installed.”

Bill Shankly and Dixie Dean

In the meantime, why not pay a visit to The Shankly Hotel and see the Everton tribute for yourself?

We hope to see you soon at the Football Quarter in Liverpool!

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