Manager - Carlisle United

22nd March 1949 - June 1951

It was with a certain initial reluctance that Bill Shankly moved into football management for he was still convinced he had much to offer as a player. However, Preston still held his registration and refused to release it, thus preventing him from playing anywhere else. 35-year-old, qualified as a masseur, he took the Carlisle job in 1949 and went into his first managerial appointment determined to become the greatest football manager of all time.

Carlisle were a struggling Third Division North side who found it hard to attract southern based players because of their geographic remoteness. Shankly immediately turned this disadvantage on it's head and turned Brunton Park into something of a fortress. He would tell his players how tired the opposition must be at having to travel up to such a remote corner of the country. He made a quick impression on the local population too, urging them to come and support the team and help them to carry the hopes of the region to the rest of the country.

Shankly established his relationship with the fans in his own unique way: "I used to on the Tannoy at a quarter to three to speak to the people every other week before the game. Instead of putting something in the programme, I spoke to them, explaining if we'd changed the team, how it had played in the last game. Everything. The supporters loved it, they lapped it up."



Shankly at the end of his Preston North End career in 1948
one year before he took his first managerial job at Carlisle.

He dragged the club into a more professional outlook, providing a new strip for the first team, and got the board to purchase a large house which was converted into flats for new players coming into the club. In his first full season, 1949-50, Carlisle finished 9th, but had won over the people of the town with their brand of football. Season ticket sales for the start of the 1950-51 season were at an all time high.

That season saw Carlisle buzz to the excitement of a visit from Arsenal in an FA Cup replay after they had secured an amazing 0-0 draw at Highbury. A final league placing of 3rd wasn't quite good enough for promotion and after a squabble with the board, who had reneged on a bonus promise should the team finish in the top three, Shankly resigned and took up an offer from Grimsby Town.

Managerial Record:
League Matches: 95
Won: 42
Drawn: 31
Lost: 22

1948/49: 15th in Division 3 North
1949/50: 9th in Division 3 North
1950/51: 3rd in Division 3 North

Shanks quote

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.

Keith Edwards

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