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.
As a 8/9 year old my dad would take me to work sometimes, and we would go in the Eaton Rd cafe for breakfast. Shanks, who had retired by then, would be sitting in there and would come right over and keep us there for ages, him talking, us listening. About 4 years later my dad jumped out his van in Old Swan. He said it was lashing down, and who ran up to him and made him take the umbrella cos of the rain but Bill."You have not been in the cafe for ages" he said, again my dad protested about the umbrella, but Shanks gestured for him to shut up and said "Son, you work too hard and I can go home now and dry off, you still have to work all afternoon. Besides, a few years ago you told me the only mistake I have ever made since coming to Liverpool was resigning. So you just resign yourself to the fact that I'm right again and get under the fucking thing." He then spent another 20 mins getting wet while talking football. My dad said he could see people looking at him thinking why he did not offer Shanks his brolley. At the end of the conversation my dad handed Bill his brolley back and an old lady, walking past at the time told my dad he should be ashamed of himself. Mr Shankly walked away laughing his head off.
I now live in Australia, and the footy team I play for has a trainer/coach who has been at the club for years. He is a mad red, 65 years old and everyone knows him by one name only. SHANKS. This is a legend that will never die. You have a great site. Keep up the good work.