The village team was Glenbuck Cherrypickers who had rooted itself firmly in the fabric of Scottish football history, but by the time Bill was old enough and good enough to force his way into the team, the recession of the 1930s was taking hold and many of the men of the village were leaving to find work. The Cherrypickers folded, without Bill ever having played a first team game for them, and instead, he signed for another local team, Cronberry Eglinton as a right-half.
Cronberry Eglinton were founder members of the Ayrshire Junior Football Association in 1889. District Leagues were set up in the first decade of the 20th century with Cronberry in the Cumnock & District League and mentioned by one source as "the top side at that time", dominating up until the first world war.
Though no definitive records of this time exist, legend has it that Cronberry were unbeaten at home for ten years between 1904-14, partly due to home fans letting the opposing keeper know what his fate would be if he didn't let in a few goals!
They won the Mauchline Cup in 1918, closed down for a season then joined the Cumnock & Mauchline league in 1919, then the re-formed Cumnock & District after that. They won the Ayrshire Cup for the only time in their history in 1930, having actually lost the final, but through a successful protest that their opponents had given a false name for one of their players.
18-year-old Bill Shankly's performances in the 1931-32 season were so impressive, he took the eye of several of the many scouts who regularly combed the area for football talent.
After half a season he was on his way.
Sadly, a lot of junior and senior teams were to go under in the 1930s as the pits closed and the global pre-war recession hit Scotland hard. Teams like the Glenbuck Cherrypickers and Cronberry Eglinton simply ceased to exist after the resumption of organised football at the end of the war.
"He arranged personal interviews with all the players. He started with our goalkeeper, Tommy Lawrence, who went into Bill's office at one o'clock and emerged at 2.15. Because I wore the No. 11 shirt, by the time he'd seen the rest of the team, position by position, it was five o'clock when my turn came. To be honest, I was playing well, so I wasn't too worried. But, to my amazement, he said, 'Son, you're smoking yourself to death!' I said: 'I don't smoke, boss.' He just carried on and added: 'You've been on the town with women in nightclubs, every night a different woman.'
I tried to explain I didn't do that sort of thing. But he kept going on and then said: 'I know exactly what you do. You're drinking yourself to death. I've heard from sources on town that you're practically an alcoholic!' I insisted; 'Boss, I don't do anything like that!' Shanks replied;' Well, son the way you're playing at the moment you're doing all of those things and plenty of other things I can't find out about!'"
PETER THOMPSON - Liverpool 1963-1974 (Shanks read everybody the "riot act" when the team was not getting results.)