Published last year, The Quality Street Gang by Paul Dykes tells the story of the young squad who grew up as understudies to the Lisbon Lions. Some, such as Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain, went on to be club legends, but other “Gang” members never graduated to the big time, with a few ending up nearly destitute.
Dykes tracked down scores of former players and their families as part of his research for the book, and has now been asked to interview them again as part of the film being planned by Luke Massey, director of the war horror film Armistice. “Luke is based in Liverpool, and is a Celtic and Liverpool fan, and he got my book at Christmas,” Dykes explained. “He saw the potential in it for a film straight away, particularly the fact that so many of the players in the book had never had their stories told before. It’s a labour of love for him and the success of Armistice means he’s got the time to do it. I met him a few weeks ago to discuss the film, and I was surprised when he asked me to do the interviews for it. I thought Luke might want professional actors to do the interviews, but he thought as I’d met all the people already it would be more natural if I did it.”
Filming starts in June, and is scheduled to go on for around six months. It will also be a work of passion for Dykes, who will have to fit in his interviews around his day job, as he did for the book itself. Having grown up as a Celtic supporter in Fife, Dykes was familiar with the careers of the best-known members of the “Gang” such as Dalglish and McGrain. But his research for the book soon threw up entirely new lines of enquiry.
“There is a tragic element to it,” he said. “Some of the guys fell by the wayside, and in a way their story is more interesting than the ones who went on to have successful careers in football.”
l The Quality Street Gang by Paul John Dykes is published by Celtic, priced £19.99, and is available from club outlets and Amazon.