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.
"When I took a physiotherapy course before I became a manager, I learned some valuable things. Notably about the heart, the intake of food for an athlete and particularly the timing of meals before a match. I put this into use. When I came to Liverpool, I stopped the system of players having a big meal on the night before a game. I adopted the pattern of taking them away on Friday night, timing the journey to reach the hotel about 10 pm, where the players had tea, toast and honey and then straight to bed.
On the day of the match, three hours before the kick-off, they could have a steak or chicken or poached eggs. They did not have a cooked breakfast as well. It was simple diet and and the word "simple" came into most of my football thinking in training and playing as well. I ate the same sort of food all my life and I've always been a fitness fanatic. The food players had before a match is to preserve their strength, not build it up. Players find what suits them best by trial and error. If their demand fell within the limits I laid down, that was all right. I also expected them to eat properly when they were not at the club, not to eat stupid things when they were out of control. Most of them did that but I invariably knew when any of them had stepped off the rails in any way. In any case, it usually told on their performance."
Shankly's recipe for success seemed simple on the surface, but was anything but!