The following recollections of friends and associates of Shankly's down the years display an essential part of the man. Shankly's unique way of looking at life, is more clearly explained by the fact that he was simply devoted, child like, to the game he loved. This reveals how deeply the devotion ran through him, like lettered rock as the result of his dedication and fanaticism, not the cause of his enduring fame. Enjoy!
IAN CALLAGHAN - Liverpool 1960-1977
There was humour without him knowing it. He didn't say things because he thought they were funny. They were funny to us, and we would all have a laugh at the things he said but we would never ever laugh at him or in his presence. We just believed in him and he commanded total respect from us. It was like a school kid and headmaster relationship that you had with him."
RON YEATS - Liverpool 1961- 1971
"It was just meeting him for the first five minutes that persuaded me that he was a good man and Liverpool would be a good club to be with. I can’t believe it when we were coming down the M6, with vice-chairman Sidney Reakes, who had a Rolls Royce at the time, and me and Bill in the back. I was only 22 and didn’t know what to say. Bill just turned round and said: 'Ron, I want you to captain the side. You will be my eyes, my ears and my voice on that pitch.' I thought to myself, 'bloody hell.' It’s a big thing at 22, and never ever seen the place. I did that for him, to captain Liverpool, for ten years. It was the best ten years of my career and my life."
RAY CLEMENCE - Liverpool 1967-1981
"When I signed for Liverpool Shanks told me Tommy Lawrence was over the hill and past his best and if I continued to improve I’d be in the “Big team” as he used to call it, within six months. When I got to Liverpool for pre-season after signing for them I found out that Tommy wasn’t over the hill and past his best. He was at the peak of his career and I had to wait 2½ years before getting a regular first team place."
EMLYN HUGHES - Liverpool 1967-1979 (Shankly had wanted to sign him right away from Blackpool, but was prepared to wait for him. He phoned Emlyn every Sunday morning to tell him he'd be a Liverpool player soon.)
"I'd be just about to make short work of a plate of eggs, bacon and black pudding when the phone would ring. It would be Shanks. 'Hey, Emlyn, son, don't eat that stuff you've got on your plate there. I'll be signing you shortly. I want you lean and hungry, son. Lean and hungry!' Today, thirty years later, I still associate the smell of bacon frying with the telephone ringing at 8.30 sharp on a Sunday morning."
"Tommy Lawrence was frightened to death of Shanks. He was just a young boy. He had been there since he was 16-year-old. He got his chance in ’61. I’ll always remember we were playing Arsenal for the first time in 8 years because Liverpool had been in the 2nd division. We were winning 1-0 with 10 minutes to go and I thought, 'what a good win this will be at Arsenal.' I can’t remember the Arsenal’s striker name that hit the ball from 25 yards. I am not joking, but he stubbed his toe first and then hit the ball. It trickled by me and I went 'it’s yours, Tommy.' Tommy was on the line and opened his legs and the bloody ball went right through him. I couldn’t believe it. They put the pressure on us for the last five minutes, but we held out.
I am thinking to myself all this time, 'when we get into that dressing room I am going to get into the bath before Shanks come in the door.' Little did I know that the ten players I was playing with thought the same thing. When the final whistle went... if we had sprinted that much during the game we would have won it easily. Everybody was trying to hurry into the dressing room but it wasn’t quick enough. The door opened and in came Shanks. His face was blue and I am thinking, 'here it goes.' He went, 'where is he?' I didn’t realise, but big Tommy Lawrence was behind me. I was three inches bigger than him and didn’t know where he was. His finger went up and he said, 'I am here, boss.' 'Where?' 'I am here, boss.' He said, 'before you say anything, boss, I want to apologize to you and the lads. I should have never opened my legs to that ball.' Shankly went, 'it’s not your fault. It’s your fucking mother who should have never opened her legs.'"
TOMMY SMITH - Liverpool 1962-1978 (on the unfortunate guinea pig, Jimmy Melia)
"Known to the lads as Bald Eagle, Jimmy always looked older than he was. He had this ritual of coming in for a rub-down every day, whether he was injured or not. Shanks, of course, would always be keeping any eye on Jimmy to see if he was actually carrying an injury. I was on the groundstaff at the time and in on the Sunday, as usual, to help brush the dressing-rooms and terraces as well as generally tidying things up at Anfield with the other younger lads. As usual, Jimmy was in the treatment room for his rub-down. As groundstaff boys we didn't go anywhere near the dressing room or any of the inner sanctum areas without knocking on the door and asking permission. This day, Shanks came out, wearing a beaming smile. 'Boys, put your brushes down and come in here. I want you to see the latest in football technology.'
Now he used to be proud if the toilets were given a lick of paint. Can you imagine what he was like with a new piece of equipment that had been designed to treat injuries and shorten the recovery period? He was full of praise for the German manufacturers. 'Great inventors, the Germans, amazing bit of gadgetry this. Cost us two thousand pounds, but it will be worth every penny, won't it, Bob?' Bob Paisley gave us a knowing look. He was from the old school of treating players and clearly wasn't as enthusiastic as Shanks.
'Aye', said Bill. 'It will nullify injuries. Marvellous invention.' He was clearly desperate to try it out. 'Who's in Bob?. Jimmy Melia is here again! He'll do.'
The next thing, Jimmy is sitting on a table alongside this machine and Bob is fitting the electrodes to his legs. The logic was simple. The machine sent out an electric impulse. This worked the muscle which in turn helped the flow of blood. All very straightforward. The kind of thing Bob would do with his experienced hands. But Shanks was in full flow. He had his audience, ten groundstaff lads, and we listened as he explained the way the various dials worked.
'It's marked one to ten. It's a low on one, high power on ten. Go on, Jimmy son, we'll leave it to you to take the pain strain. See how far you can go.' Jimmy turned it on to number one. No effect. He turned the dial two more notches. Nothing. He got to five and was still telling the boss that he couldn't feel anything. 'Bob', said Shanks, beginning to get annoyed, 'perhaps these bloody Germans aren't as inventive as I thought. Either that or Jimmy is immune to pain.' Melia pressed on... six, seven, eight. 'Still nothing, boss.' Suddenly the dial was all the way to ten and Jimmy was just sitting there, shaking his head, 'No, nothing.'
Shanks was furious, 'German crap', he was screaming. 'They haven't got a clue. You can send this back to Munich and tell them they can stick it up their backsides. Two thousand pounds? Get your sponge out, Bob. You might need it.'
Bob just stood there, wearing this little light brown coat that made him look more like a grocer than a medical expert. We were all dying to laugh. You could see one or two shoulders shaking as we tried to stifle our mirth. We began to back towards the door, when Shanks suddenly said, 'Christ, Bob, you haven't even turned it on!' He flicked the switch and poor Jimmy, still on a maximum setting of ten, nearly hit the ceiling. Sparks were coming out of his ears. His hair would have stood on end if he'd had any. We all ran out, exploding with laughter. As we headed down the corridor, Shanks was right behind us and shouting, 'That'll teach the Bald Eagle to come in for a treatment on a Sunday.'
IAN ST JOHN - Liverpool 1961-1971
I could confirm a thousand times the Shankly caricature. I was around, for example, one day when he took a bemused reporter into a toilet cubicle in the new dressing room at Anfield, pulled the chain and said: 'You know it refills in 15 seconds . . . it’s a world record.'"
WALLY SCOTT - producer of Bill's 70's lunchtime chat show on Radio City
"The biggest headaches for me came when we had a football guest, which included Joe Mercer, Ian Callaghan and Albert Stubbins. Shanks would get carried away, relive match incidents and get up and leave the microphone to kick an imaginary ball across the studio! I had to keep asking him to get back to the mike. One week we had a guy lined up for Bill's show who had just climbed Everest. I rang Bill and told him and he replied, 'No, I don't want him, you can't play football on the top of Everest!'"
PHIL THOMPSON - Liverpool 1971-1985 / 1986-1993 / 1998-2004 (Shankly was not too happy with his lot in April 1974 when The Reds drew West Ham 2-2 at Upton Park).
"We were getting beat 2-1 and laying siege to the Hammers' goal in the closing minutes. Bill Shankly clearly thought we were not going to score and headed from the stand down towards the dressing room, anticipating the final whistle. Then Kevin Keegan scored, literally with the last kick of the match. The boss heard the roar, but assumed it was the referee calling a halt to the proceedings. We all trooped into the dressing room, delighted to have secured a last-gap point. Shanks was already in there and looking exeedingly annoyed. He looked at the bubbly mood of the lads and started to have a go. He must have thought: 'Bastards! They've lost and they're all smiling.'
He started to say: 'You should never lose to a team like this.' Bob started to interrupt him and he looked even angrier. Then he heard Bob say: 'Bill, we've equalized in the last second. It was a draw.' Shanks' face went as red as the colour of the red tie he was wearing. He immediately said: 'Great result, lads. Fantastic. You deserved it.' We all started laughing but he couldn't see the funny side."
RON YEATS - Liverpool faced Cologne in the European Cup quarter final. The home and away games were both goalless and after a third draw, a coin-toss was to decide their fate.
"I got in first to the referee and said: 'I'll have tails.' Lucky for me the referee said ok. Liverpool tails, Cologne heads. Up it went and Christ didn't it stick in a divot. I said to the referee: 'Ref, you're going to have to retoss the coin.' And he went: 'You're right, Mr. Yeats.' I thought the German captain was going to hit him. He was going berserk because it was falling over on the heads. He picked it up, up it went again, came down tails. We were coming off and who is standing there but Bill Shankly. I was first off the pitch and he went: 'Well done, big man. I am proud of you. What did you pick?' I said: 'I picked tails, boss.' I was waiting for the adulation but he just went: 'I would have picked tails myself' and just walked away.
It happened twice. I guessed right, the second time I guessed wrong [in the 1st round vs. Atletico Bilbao 1968]. When I told him I had chosen tails, he said 'Christ, you should have said heads!' It’s the kind of man he was. 'I don’t know why you picked that!'"
PETER THOMPSON - Liverpool 1963-1974
"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!'"
NESSIE SHANKLY - Bill's dearly beloved wife
"Bill would often make visits to the local children's hospital at Alder Hey. Some of the children were terminally ill and when he arrived home in the evening after visiting them he would break down in tears. It was because he didn't have the ability to make them better. I did suggest to him that perhaps he should think about taking a break from his hospital visits, and he would get angry and say, 'I've said I'll visit the children and I'll go on visiting them.' and that was that."
"I was trying to get fit and Shanks caught me in the medical room at Anfield with Joe Fagan shaving my leg preparatory to strapping it up. Shanks said, 'What the hell are you doing?' I said, 'I want to play, so Joe's strapping my leg.' He said, 'Don't be daft. You're not playing. Get off that table!' After a bit of an argument, I said, 'I am playing. It's my leg.' Straight away he answers back, 'It's not YOUR bloody leg. It's LIVERPOOL FC's leg. And you're bloody not playing!'"
TOMMY LAWRENCE - Liverpool 1957-1971
"I got injured in a Monday match at Wolverhampton early in the 1963-64 season. The muscle had gone in my leg. It was really bad. Shanks wouldn't speak to me after the game but the following morning he asked me how I was. I just said it wasn't too bad because you you didn't like saying you were unfit. Bob told me to say I was fit and on the Friday, the day before our next game, Shanks got me out. He said: 'Right. Come on, run round the pitch.' I could hardly walk but after I'd made it round the pitch Shanks asked me how I felt. I said: 'I'm fit.'
Well, he nearly exploded! 'Fucking fit! You're a cripple! A bleedin' cripple! Get ot o' ma sight!'"
TOM SAUNDERS - Youth Development Officer, scout and director at Liverpool
"The players waited for instructions and Shankly began to speak and continued for some fifteen minutes. Not about the opposition or even football. Oh no! Boxing was the sole subject for a quarter of an hour. He then switched to football but quickly brought proceedings to a halt. 'Don't let's waste time! That bloody lot can't play at all.' With that, the team talk was rapidly brought to a close."
I got caught up in an amazing post-match row after the Albion game which took place at Maine Road. We were all disappointed at the end of the match and sitting in the dressing-room when a knock came on the door. A policeman was standing there and he said: 'I want to see number four.' One of the lads said: 'You're wanted, Smithy. There's a policeman asking for you outside.'
I had a cousin called Lawrie who was in the force. I assumed it was him and went towards the door. Standing there, helmet under his arm, bike leaning against the corridor wall, was a large constable. He immediately cautioned me, saying: 'At around 9.15 pm this evening, you were heard to shout: 'Chris, give me the fucking ball!' I thought he was joking and said: 'It's a good job you were not in earshot when they scored their second goal.' The pedantic PC clearly didn't see the funny side. He said: 'I'm arresting you for using abusive language.'
I shouted for Bill Shankly who came out and said: 'What's going on?' 'Who are you?', said the constable to the most famous manager in football. 'I'm the manager of this football team', said Shanks, clearly getting agitated. 'Are you in charge of Tommy Smith?', said the constable. I've just arrested him.' 'You've what?', roared the boss. The fact that the PC was in blue didn't help. When he started to repeat this business about me swearing, Shanks went into a rage. 'You better listen to me. If you don't fuck off, I'll let the tyres down on your bike.'"
EMLYN HUGHES - was on the way to complete his signing for Liverpool with Shanks at the wheel
"We had to get to Lytham St Anne's to complete the signing so I could play straight away in Liverpool's next match and Shanks drove us both down there. It's only about 10 minutes from Bloomfield Road, but he was the worst driver in the world. He had this old brown Corsair and just as we left the ground he half went through a set of lights and a woman shunted into the back of us and smashed all the lights in. They got out of their cars and exchanged numbers and so on then we carried on.
Next thing, a police car flags us down and the young officer comes up to the car and Shanks winds down the window. 'What is it officer?' he asked, 'I'm sorry sir you can't continue the journey in that car as you've got no lights.' said the policeman. Shanks explained what had happened but the cop was having none of it. 'Do you know who's in this car?', said Shanks, and I thought he was doing the old "do you know who I am" routine. 'No' said the officer, 'I don't recognise you.' 'No, not me you fool,' he said, 'I've got the future captain of England alongside me.'"
"Sometimes after I'd let in a soft goal, he would come into the dressing room and say, 'What were you doing, son? Our Jeanette would have saved that one!' Jeanette is the boss' daughter and must be the best goalkeeper and the best forward in the world. For if one of our forwards misses a simple chance he's greeted with, 'Our Jeanette would have scored that one.'"
PAUL FAIRCLOUGH - was a 16-year-old in Liverpool's C-team in during the mid 60's. After one defeat, Shankly was livid and stormed into their dressing room to tell the youngsters off.
"He strode in, thumped the desk, smashed a cup and came round criticizing each one of us close to our faces. When he got to me, I just laughed out loud because I thought he was a madman. He went totally ballistic. I just couldn't take on board this man getting so worked up about football. I'd love to say I got swept along with the Shankly era at Liverpool, but really I can't say I learned anything. It's quite sad, but I didn't."
GEORGE BEST - Man Utd and Northern Ireland legend
"In 1967, we arrived at Anfield to play Liverpool and as I glanced out of the window of the coach I saw Bill Shankly standing at the main entrance. I was the first player to alight from the coach and when I reached the entrance Bill shook my hand warmly. 'Good to see you again, George,' he said. 'You're looking well, son.'
This was unusual for him, and knowing Shanks to be a wily old fox, I decided to hang around to try to find out what he was up to. As each of the United players entered Anfield, Shanks shook his hand, welcomed him and told him how good he looked. Eventually, Bobby Charlton, a born worrier, came up to Shanks.
'Bobby, son. Good to see you,' Shanks said, shaking his hand. 'But by God, if ever there was a man who looked ill, it's you, Bobby!'
Bobby's face went as colourless as an icicle. 'Ill? I look ill?' he repeated, running the fingers of his right hand over his forehead and down his right cheek. He was visibly shaken.
'Aye, Bobby, son. You look like you're sickening for something. If I were you I'd see a doctor as soon as you set foot back in Manchester.' Shanks patted Bobby on the back and took off down the corridor, leaving him trembling in the foyer.
In the dressing room, Bobby was conspicious by his absence and, ominously, there was a delay in announcing the team. We sat around kicking our heels, no one daring to get changed in case Matt Busby had a tactical plan which meant leaving one of us out. The thought of getting changed only to be told to put your clothes back on because you're not in the team is a player's nightmare.
Eventually Matt Busby entered the dressing room with Jimmy Murphy and told us they had reshuffled the team which had beaten West Ham the previous week. Bobby Charlton was unavailable. He'd suddenly been taken ill."
RAY WILSON - one of Bill's star players at Huddersfield in the 50s
"When I signed for Everton I hadn't realised how intense the Liverpool-Everton rivalry is. It took me a couple of years to realise that feeling bordering on hatred they have there. I'd be talking to Bill as I remembered him at Huddersfield and he'd be telling me that it was a disgrace I'd got picked for England. I was the worst full-back ever!"
One day Shanks called me into his office. As I walked in, he began swearing and saying how disappointed he was in me. I was shocked, because I had been doing exceptionally well and the team had been winning. He agreed that I was playing brilliantly and I was now more bemused, until he said, ‘I’ve just heard that you’ve got a blue car, bloody sell it!”
BOB PAISLEY on that Anderlecht performance in 1964
"Before the game, in the dressing room, Bill talked to the lads. He said, 'You've read about Anderlecht having all these internationals and how good they are. They can't play. They're rubbish. I've seen them and I'm telling you. You'll murder them, so go out there and do it.' The boys went out there and murdered them. They won 3-0. And after the game, Bill burst into the dressing room and said 'Boys, you've just beaten the greatest team in Europe.'"
JOHN ROBERTS - (journalist who worked on Bill's autobiography)
"I remember during the time I was compiling Bill's autobiography he picked up a newspaper one day and wanted to criticize something that had been printed. Almost absent-mindedly he picked up a pair of spectacles which I'd never seen him before use. He looked at me very defensively and said, 'These are just for very close work. I came home from a match at Anfield last week and I said to Nessie: 'Liverpool had a penalty awarded against them today and, do you know something, I agreed with the decision.' Nessie said: 'Bill, if you're starting to agree with referees' decisions you'd better get yourself a pair of glasses.'"
"When I married Bill I married a man to whom football was a fierce passion. And it had its benefits; whenever Liverpool lost, which wasn't very often, he'd be so upset he'd come home, go straight into the kitchen and clean out the oven over and over again until it was spotless. It was the only way he knew to relieve the frustration."
TOMMY SMITH (Smithy says Shanks said "cemetery", but when Shanks tells this story he says "graveyard" - same meaning - take your pick)
"He was a fair man. He never cheated anybody. We only came to loggerheads once over money, and that was over a new bonus scheme they wanted to introduce. Trouble was, the basic was terrible, and you found yourself relying an awful lot on bonus. We got together with the lads and I went back and got it sorted out with Shanks, but not without a bit of shouting and bawling. He'd stand there with his hands on his hips and say, 'You, Smithy, you could start a riot in a cemetery.'"
"It was a quarter to three on match day at Anfield and there was no sign of Shanks. Suddenly, he came in. His shirt's torn, tie undone, jacket hanging off, hair all over the place. 'What's happened boss?' 'I've just been in the Kop with the boys.' He'd gone in with 28,000 of them and they'd been lifting him shoulder high, passing him round, and he loved that."
GERRY BYRNE 1953-1969
"I'll never forget one game at Tottenham when Jimmy Greaves took a corner. I thought someone had shouted so I ducked and the ball went into the net. All the way home on the train Shanks was saying 'I'll put Gerry Byrne in Walton prison.'"
RON YEATS - Shankly was trying to convince Yeats to sign for Liverpool from Dundee Utd
I asked him, "Whereabouts in England is Liverpool.'
'Oh, we're in the First Division son', replied Shanks.
This took me aback. I said, 'I thought you were in the Second Division?'
Shanks replied, 'When we sign you, son, we’ll be in the First Division next year.'"
TOM DALEY - Grimsby goalkeeper in the 50s (Daley often played in the same reserve team as Bill and watched him enjoying himself)
"We were at home to Scunthorpe reserves and the ball went in to the stands. Shanks went to take the throw and he started talking to the crowd. He was having a great time taking questions and the referee had to go over and give him a telling off. At half-time he was fuming. 'I was just telling 'em about the first team game away last week, trying to get a bit of atmosphere.'"
"I remember he said to Tommy Lawrence, after we had just won the League but still had a few games to play out the season, 'Tom, wouldn't it be great if we could put a deck chair in the middle of the goal, you sitting in it, cigar in your mouth, and when the ball comes, you get out of your deck chair and catch it and say 'It's a lovely day to play football, isn't it?'"
"I was only fifteen and playing in a five-a-side game at Melwood. I nutmegged Byrne and scored and I was on top of the world. A couple of minutes later a ball dropped between us, I went to head it and Gerry headed me and I went down with a gashed eye. As I lay on the ground covered in blood, Shankly strolled across, looked down at me and said 'Lesson number one, never nutmeg Gerry Byrne, son and think you can get away with it.'"
MIKE LYONS - Everton captain of the 1970s
"In his retirement Shanks used to help out with the schoolboys at Everton and I'd never seen anything like it. There he was, well into his sixties, mixing it with the kids, playing his heart out and motivating his side to do the same, moaning if there was a free kick against him and shaking hands and patting lads on the back whenever his side got a goal. He was just like one of the kids himself.
He used to come to me and give me a match report afterward. He once said 'Great game today Mick. We won 19-17!' It was almost as if he were back in the school playground. Most importantly he enjoyed himself and I always got a kick when I saw that."
PATRICK COLLINS - Daily Mail reporter
"The decades have drifted past, yet still I recall those Sunday afternoons when Nessie Shankly's kindly voice would come crackling down the line. "I'm sorry, Bill's not here," she would say. "He's over the park, playing football with the kids. When will he be back, you say? When he wins, of course." And you could hear the chuckle as she put down the telephone.
Half-an-hour later the man himself would come on, a touch breathless, to tell of his part in the nine-goal thriller and of how he had laid on the winner, with the park-keeper tapping his watch and the mothers calling them in for their tea. And then Bill Shankly would talk football. And I, the rawest of rookies, would listen, scribble and revel in the tutorial.
The results of the scribblings would appear in a weekly magazine. A senior colleague, a trusted friend of Shankly, had approached him to write a column. Bill mulled it over for a moment and then, suddenly, he beamed. 'I'll do it, on one condition,' he said. 'I don't want any payment.' We waited for an explanation. 'I had to pay a lot of tax last year,' he said. 'Next year, when I see the tax man, he'll say: 'You reckon you've declared everything, Mr Shankly, but you haven't told us what you earned from this football column. So I reckon we've got you.' And I'll say: 'I never took a bloody penny for it, so who's got who, son? Eh?' And he cackled triumphantly, as we attempted to interpret the economics of his prank."
IAN ST JOHN
Shankly loved cards, having played back home in Ayrshire with the miners, and when he was a player at Preston and Carlisle. He also played with us. I recall a long card game on a trip to Newcastle. Shankly was involved in the school and so was Bobby Graham, a nervous man who must have been relieved to know that his presence, on this occasion at least, was absolutely official. It was a tough school, with Yeats, Tommy Smith and Tommy Lawrence also participating, and it was fascinating to watch Shanks play. He squeezed the cards in the way that the miners did. He just took a quick glance and then clenched them in his hand so that it was impossible to see what he had, even when you were standing behind him.
On this occasion Graham cleaned up at three-card brag when his three threes beat Shankly’s three queens. Much to the manager’s embarrassment, he had run out of money. 'See me back at Anfield,' he said to Bobby as he got up from the school. On the next Monday, Bobby wasn’t sure about claiming his winnings. Naturally, we all argued that he deserved his money and urged him to march into Shankly’s office to ask him for it. We went with him.
'Boss, I’ve come for the grabs . . .' Bobby began. 'Oh aye, son,' said Shanks, handing him the winnings. As Bobby was leaving his office, Shankly added: 'Bobby, son, stay away from the cards. No good can come from them.'"
"We were staying and playing in Belgium one time, and this night Chris Lawler and I had gone to a casino just opposite the hotel but the rest of the lads had gone down to the village for a drink after the game. At twelve o'clock Shanks stormed into the casino and dragged us back to the hotel. We knew he was in a foul mood, and we were up in our rooms, looking down the road, when we heard the rest of them coming back.. there was Gerry Byrne, Roger Hunt, Geoff Strong, Tommy Lawrence, Gordon Milne, all singing and kicking a few beer cans along, that sort of thing.
There was a small playground in front of the hotel and they were mucking about on the swings. We knew Shanks was waiting downstairs, so we tried to tell them to quieten it a bit, but they didn't pay any attention. Too far gone for that! It was about half-past one, and they came falling into the lobby, shouting and bawling, and Shanks was so flabbergasted he didn't know what to do or where to start, and of all people he picks on Cally. 'You, Callaghan... ', he says, and you can see he's reaching for the right thing to say. 'You... I'm going to tell your wife on you!' Everybody just collapsed!"
BILL NICHOLSON - Spurs manager
"After the usual hellos, I mentioned Liverpool's 2-0 defeat the previous day. Quick as a flash, Bill growled, 'No, no Billy. We murdered them, we were all over them. The first goal wasn't a goal at all, and the second, well you've never seen anything like it.'"
DON REVIE - Leeds United manager in the 60s and 70s
"He would phone me up every Sunday morning. Each call followed the same ritual, with Shankly eulogising over his Liverpool players. Every player would be praised, including the substitute who would have contributed to the victory even if he had not played.
To Shankly, every player in that red strip had everything; a right foot, left foot, tackling, heading and stamina. No player had a weakness, they were each the best player, position for position in the world. When I managed to get in a mention of one of my own players, he would just say, 'a fair player, nae bad,' leaving me wondering how Leeds ever managed to win a match with no great players, not even good ones for all that Bill would admit to."
JOCK STEIN - Legendary Celtic and Scotland manager
"I don't believe everything Bill tells me about his players. If they were that good, they'd not only have won the European Cup but the Ryder Cup, the Boat Race and even the Grand National!"
KENNY DALGLISH - Liverpool 1977-1991 (Kenny went on trial at Liverpool and West Ham in August 1966)
"I soon saw Shanks again. Liverpool's first team were due to play West Ham the same weekend as my trial. As I walked through to the player's area at Upton Park, Shanks came along in the other direction. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment. I couldn't speak to him. I just kept my head down and hurried past. I heard his voice shouting 'Kenny' 'Kenny', but I said to myself, just keep walking, just keep walking. I regret not talking to Shanks, but I was only 15 and very shy. If anybody spoke to me, I'd blush."
"After we'd beaten Arsenal in the Cup at Highbury early in his reign, he stood in the dressing room shouting "Liverpool, Liverpool!" then jumped in the bath with us for the first and only time! He was amazing. Unique."
ALAN A'COURT - Liverpool 1952-1964
He was fanatical about football. He didn’t like you playing golf and he didn’t like you going out. One year in a trip to Blackpool, we went to this nightclub run by former heavyweight boxer Jack London, Ian St John was the spokesman and said ‘We’re Liverpool Football Club’, and London replied “I don’t care if you are fucking Aston Villa, you’re not getting in here.”. We thought, we’ll not argue with him. We got back to the hotel late and Bill and Bob were standing in the lobby with their slippers on. 'I expected better of you Alan,' he said. And it was only a Sunday night!"
Then there was the time shortly after Steve Heighway first joined and we were at a meeting with Shanks. Now Steve in those days was still an amateur player in his mind as well as having a university degree, and he would take offence pretty quickly. He's a great lad, terrific fellow, but I remember a time when Shanks called him out for not helping a team-mate in a situation where he could have helped. Shanks said: 'Tell me, son, if your neighbour's house was on fire what would you do? Would you get a bucket of water and help him put it out, or would you watch it burn down?'
I don't know how everybody kept a straight face, because Stevie in his wisdom gets up and says, 'Well, all I can say is till you ask me a serious question, I can't answer. If you ask me silly questions, all you're going to get is silly answers...' That knocked Shanks back on his heels and set the place rocking, I can tell you."
HOWARD KENDALL - Former Everton manager
"Probably the most profound advice he ever gave me was to get into a tracksuit as soon as I turn up for work. He said that it showed the players that there was work to be done and acted as a deterrent to people in suits who wanted to bog you down with administrative work."
JIM MCLAREN - Carlisle goalkeeper in the 40s and 50s
"We were going to Tranmere for a game and as we got near the ground Bill got off the coach to ask for directions. The person he asked couldn't help. Bill got back on the bus shaking his head. 'Can you believe that? Imagine not knowing where the football field is.'"
JOHN TOSHACK - Liverpool 1970-1978 in the Liverpool Daily Post on 1 December 2009
“I suppose he invented Liverpool as the club they are now. You only have to go there now and you see the foundations he laid down 50 years ago are still evident Shanks used to say, and it is poignant now because it is 50 years since he was appointed, that ‘the most important things in football were important 50 years ago and they will be important 50 years from now. Shankly is the most important thing in the history of Liverpool and he will still be important 50 years from now. Everything he did, the style, the system, the way Liverpool played, is still in place. Still as relevant now as it was all those years ago. He gave Liverpool that mystique, that aura of greatness. His beliefs carried on through Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans. That was the testimony to what he built there. Liverpool then was nothing like it is now. He put everything together. From training ground to the stadium. I speak for not only myself, but for people like Emlyn Hughes and all the rest of the lads he took from lower division clubs and gave them the chance of playing for Liverpool. You see the money being paid for players now, it’s amazing. But he created a great team with very little outlay by comparison."
Congratulations on a Fabulous web site worthy of the great man himself. I was fortunate enough to get a cup final ticket of Bill in 1974, after a heartfelt plea to the great man from my lovely mum who died recently. She is up there now thanking him for the many phone calls we received, sparked off as a result of the thank you letter we sent for the ticket. He actually rang our house on a number of occasions thanking my mum for birthday cards, christmas cards etc she would send him. I will never forget the occasion i answered the phone to him, the reds had just signed Kenny Dalglish, i asked Shanks what he thought of him 'GRREEAT player son', was the reply, not a bad judge was he!