King George shakes the hand of royalty.
Winning the FA Cup in 1938 was undoubtedly the highlight of Shankly's playing career.
"When the whistle blows at Wembley and you've played in a final and you've won, that's the greatest thrill of your life. No doubt about that. I thanked God for that. That feeling is unbelievable." - Shankly
In the late '30s, Preston North End were emerging as one of the best teams in the land. They had been to the F.A. Cup Final in 1937 and lost to a very good Sunderland side, and at the end of season 37-38, they were pipped for the title by Arsenal. However, in May 1938, they found themselves back at Wembley and up for another shot at winning the F.A. Cup. In contrast, their opponents at Wembley, Huddersfield, were struggling, and had finished the season in 19th place in Division 1.
The match, the first cup final to be broadcast live on television in it's entirety (there were an estimated 10,000 viewers watching on television), was a disappointment. After 90 minutes the game was goalless. Extra time was then played (another first for a Wembley cup final) and the tireless efforts of Shankly made Preston the likelier side to break the deadlock.
In the last minute of extra time, Shankly put George Mutch through on goal and the Huddersfield centre back and skipper Alf Young, who had been having an inspired afternoon, pulled Mutch down just inside the box. The referee gave a penalty, although for years afterwards the debate rumbled on about whether the incident had taken place inside or outside the box.
Surprisingly, the normally ice cool penalty taker Shankly refused to take the spot kick, leaving the responsibility to the still shaken George Mutch, who picked himself up, dusted himself down and smashed the kick home off the underside of the crossbar.
"I played in three Cup finals - 1937, 1938 and 1941.
There was only one good player on the field. That was me!"
Preston North End: 1
Mutch (120 pen)
Huddersfield Town: 0
"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."
TOM SAUNDERS - Youth Development Officer, scout and director at Liverpool