He remains one of the most iconic figures to have graced Carlisle United - and the entire British game.

Now a rare piece of memorabilia connected to football legend Bill Shankly has been reunited with the Brunton Park club.

A handwritten letter from the managerial great, from his time in charge at United, has been donated to the club, who plan to display it.

The letter, from December 24, 1949, sees Shankly write to newspaper reporter JW Knox to discuss arrangements for the following month’s FA Cup third round tie against Leeds.

On headed United paper and in blue ink, Shankly writes: “Dear sir, I received your letter re press pass for the Leeds cup tie, I am sorry to inform you that the press box is full up, however if you care to come along to the match I will see that you get in to the Paddock.

“The seating accommodation here is very limited, as I would certainly have fixed you up.

“Sincere wishes, Bill Shankly.”

The Leeds game, which the visiting team won 5-2, attracted a crowd of 22,822, a Brunton Park record at the time.

The letter was bought in an auction by 22-year-old Blues supporter Aaron Brown, who offered it to United when he heard of a supporter-led appeal for memorabilia.

Aaron, who lives and works in Miami, said: “Something like this does not come around every day and as a collector of Carlisle United memorabilia, it was a must.

“I won the lot, reached out to the club straight away and arranged to loan the letter for their memorabilia in the Sunset Suite.

“History like this should be cherished and enjoyed by all fans - memorabilia should be displayed proudly by the club, not hidden in a drawer.

“I felt this would be the perfect fit and hopefully this will spur on more fans to lend memorabilia to the club. It’s where it belongs now and I can’t wait to see it on display the next time I am over.”

Shankly was Carlisle boss from 1949-51, also managing Workington Reds along with Grimsby and Huddersfield, before reaching legendary status at Liverpool.

Aaron added: “Bill Shankly is one of the most important and celebrated managers not just to our club but overall in the footballing world.

“To now own a letter, written by hand during his time at our club is something I cherish greatly and I look forward to our fans now getting the opportunity to appreciate this special club artefact, at home in Brunton Park.”

United’s memorabilia appeal has been led by the Carlisle United Supporters’ Groups (CUSG) with many items already on display. CUSG chairman Simon Clarkson said: “We’ve been absolutely inundated. The response from fans and former players has been brilliant, and with such a variety, from newspaper cuttings to photographs to shirts.

“It’s a time-consuming project when we receive things and I apologise for that, that’s just the way it is with a volunteer trying to do things on top of a busy life.

“We will get these things displayed in an orderly fashion. I’ve got a huge bundle of programmes, newspaper cuttings and photographs, it’s far more effective if I can match them up and bundle them together in the same frame.

“For example, the games against Roma in the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1972, we’ve now got newspaper cuttings and programme from that day, likewise the two League Cup semi-final ties against West Brom [in 1969], the furthest run in the competition.

“There’s lots of space here and that’s the beauty of the club. The Sunset Suite is now reasonably well populated; we don’t want to overkill it, so we can move into the Sporting Inn, and we’ve got capacity in the Pioneer Stand.

“I often think when fans walk in to buy tickets [in the Pioneer Stand] it’s quite bland and sterile on those walls, so there’s lots of scope there, maybe for the shirts. We’re looking to the CUSG to run a project specifically on replica shirts, if we can go back in history and display as many of the club’s former shirts as possible. That’s a kind of spin-off from this project.”

United also recently received the match ball used by former striker Billy Rafferty to score a famous six-minute hat-trick against Cardiff in 1976.

Simon added: “In terms of the memorabilia, as Billy said with his ball, it was sat around in a loft gathering dust, and the philosophy from a lot of people is that if something can bring interest, and generally be viewed by people, it’s better than it being left where it is.

“If anybody has things to donate, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to accommodate them.

“We won’t be able to put everything up, but at the very least we will take assurances to archive stuff so that it’s there for future reference.

“I think certainly we’ve matched our ambitions. I always felt that, once the club had taken the decision to refurbish the Sunset Suite, we needed to match that - we both delivered on our promises there and we’ll keep going.

“I enjoy it. It’s an activity that takes up a lot of time - you receive it, collate it, collect it.

“The framer is fantastic - Mike Nixon, he’s done a fantastic job, he’s a Carlisle United fan so he gets it and has been very helpful in helping me decide on the nature of the frames and how we do things.

“It really reflects the strong collaboration partnership approach we’ve got, fans with other fans, with the club, and with businesses and sponsors. The hanging of these frames is all done as a donation as well.

“It’s just a really good team effort.”