George Scott - All thanks to Shanks

 

George Scott, circled centre, and the 63/64 title winning squad

After leaving Liverpool, Scott spent the 65-66 season with Aberdeen, playing 12 games and scoring twice for his home town club.

"I had never earned more than £45.00 per week at Anfield despite having been on the verge of the first team but I received a signing on fee of £1,000 on returning to Aberdeen in 1965 at a time when a new Mini cost £534 (I know that because I bought one for cash and drove it out of the showroom)."

"Aberdeen were my home town club that I had supported since childhood. I scored on my debut after 13 minutes against Clyde and got rave reviews when we beat Glasgow Rangers 2-0 at Pittodrie in front of 28,000 fans. There were nine full Scottish internationals in the Rangers team that day including the Rangers and Scotland captain John Greig. I remember putting the ball through Greig’s legs in nutmegging him and hearing his Glaswegian accent following me and requesting in very basic terms the name of the hospital I would prefer to wake up in if I ever did it again. I thought I was really on the way to justifying Bill Shankly’s faith in my ability and at last making the breakthrough to the big time."

"Unfortunately the difference between success and failure in football can sometimes be wafer thin, and after just half a dozen games in the first team at Aberdeen I suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury and was released at the end of the season in May 1966. After starting the season with such high hopes I was out of work at the age of 21 having left school at fifteen years of age, with nothing to fall back on and having no qualifications other than football."

"After being released by Aberdeen at the end of that 1965 season I returned to Liverpool to live with my girlfriend’s family and spent many weeks training on my own to regain my fitness. I got a job for a few months in Crawford’s, a biscuit factory, throwing ropes round pallets of biscuits and loading them on to wagons. The factory workers were brilliant, wanting to hear stories about the great Bill Shankly.

That summer of 1966 was also the time George Scott got his prized reference from the great man. "I watched him type it up with one finger on his little typewriter. Even in that letter you can see the way he communicated. He didn't put 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam' but he wrote 'Dear People.'"

Then in June 1966, I received a call from a representative of the South African Premier League club Port Elizabeth City FC, telling me I had been recommended to them by Bill Shankly. It's got me out of a scrape or two over the years. A reference from Shanks is priceless really. Thanks again to the great man’s recommendation another £1,000 signing on fee came my way and my wife Carole and I got married on July 30th 1966 (the same day that England won the World Cup) and flew to South Africa on 8th August 1966 to join Port Elizabeth FC."

"When my wife and I arrived in Port Elizabeth just after England had won the 1966 World Cup, South Africa was in the grip of the Apartheid regime, and Nelson Mandela had just begun his "Long road to Freedom", by being incarcerated in Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town.

Port Elizabeth City were an 'English' based side. Kevin Lewis, a former Liverpool team mate and Terry Mancini, who was to go on to further success in the English first division in later years, also played for them. We won the 1967 South African Premier League title. In 1968 I received a visit in Port Elizabeth from the then Chairman of Liverpool FC Mr Sydney Reakes who conveyed the best wishes of Bill Shankly and all of the staff at Liverpool FC to me and he told me that if I returned to the UK he was confident that Bill would fix me up with a club in England.

Bill wrote to me in South Africa a number of times. One of his letters that I still have today, sent me the best wishes of everyone at Anfield: "Dear George, It was good to hear from you again, and good to know that you met Mr. Reakes. He told me he had met you and had a chat. You have certainly done well, and I am glad. When you come home I will try to get you fixed up with a club. Incidentally, Gordon Wallace is with Crewe. I will give them all your best wishes."

Shanks ended by referring to the old five-a-side games in the car park, "we are still winning, no wonder, with five referees in our team."

George Scott spent two seasons in Africa but returned to England after becoming the victim of a bizarre stabbing incident. "One night I went to tackle an intruder who'd broken into the house. He stabbed me in an upwards motion from my belly button up towards my neck, popping all the buttons off my shirt, before getting away. It really shook me up, and I thought then, that it was time to come home."

Luckily, he hadn't been too seriously wounded and it was back at Anfield, after another encounter with Bill Shankly, that George found himself embarking on his next footballing adventure.

"Remembering the words of Mr Reakes that Bill would help me on my return I nervously went to Anfield in October 1968 to try to see him. I saw Roger Hunt in the car park as I approached the players’ entrance and Roger said Bill was in his office and would be delighted to see me. So I just strolled into Anfield, not something you could do now of course. When I entered the Anfield Stadium and made my way down to Bill’s office I heard his unmistakable Jimmy Cagney staccato voice chatting to a reporter who I think was Colin Wood of the Daily Mail or Dave Horridge of the Daily Mirror. As soon as Bill saw me the reporter was immediately dismissed and Bill invited me into his office. The conversation went like this: 'Mr Reakes tells me your team have won the championship and you have set South Africa alight scoring goals for fun, so what are your plans, George?' I said that I was married and that I had a young son who was barely four months old and I wanted to return to play in the UK."

"'Where do you want to play, son?', said Bill. I replied 'How about Arsenal, boss?' Bill replied: 'I tell you what, son, how about Tranmere Rovers.' He then picked up the phone and phoned David Russell who was then the manager of Tranmere Rovers and he said in his inimitable Shankly way. 'I have a boy here just come back from South Africa where he was the leading scorer in their Premier League and he was the best player ever to play for my reserve team. He can do a 100 yards in even time and will get you 30 goals a season.'" 

"Within five minutes, and on Shankly’s word Tranmere Rovers gave me a month’s trial at Tranmere Rovers on first team wages. When I went over that afternoon to Prenton Park Mr Russell said to me: 'I hope you can play son.' Without having seen me play and purely on Shankly’s word he put me in the first team in Alan King’s testimonial game at Prenton Park against Derby County who were the English League Champions of the day managed by Brian Clough and containing names like Archie Gemmill, Peter Shilton, Kevin Hector, Alan Hinton, Alan Durban John O’Hare and Dave Mackay. I had a blinding first half on my debut and at half time they offered me a two year contract! I played regularly in the Tranmere Rovers first team over the next two seasons but more importantly I was able to settle back into the UK with my wife and begin to build a future successful family and business life back on Merseyside."

Scott scored 6 goals in 46 games over two seasons but he began to find it hard to play at the likes of Hartlepool and Rochdale after previously playing at a higher level. After discovering and developing a knack for sales and the business world, Scott drifted into non-league football for several years before finally quitting in 1975.

George was a General Sales Manager with a major UK pharmaceutical wholesaler and used Shankly's methods to instil a feeling of pride and motivation to his younger colleagues. "I learnt a lot from Shanks about how to talk to people and build them up. The lads all love hearing my stories."

George retired in 2006, but is far from retired from Liverpool FC: "I still go to all the games at Anfield (in the Kop) and to the Ex Players Dinner every December with Gordon Wallace and Bobby Graham. We all joined the club the same week in 1960 and were all on the ground staff with Shanks, and still friends nearly 50 years later!"

In December 2009, 50 years have passed since Shankly came to Anfield. Shankly follows George every day: "Shanks had an aura about him. You always felt his presence even before you saw him. He had a way of building you up. I remember once he came up to me and looked me up and down and said, 'By Christ George, you're looking fit. I heard you scored four for the reserves on Saturday. There was a lad in the other side who's going to play for England and he never scored at all.' He was talking about Alan Ball. Those comments had a way of giving you an enormous lift."

Shankly would often talk to his players about Tom Finney, who was his all time playing hero. When Manchester City visited Goodison Park in the early sixties, Shankly was acutely aware that City's ranks contained a player who was every bit as much a hero to one of his own players. "Denis Law was my big hero, partly because like me, he came from Aberdeen. One night, he was playing for Man City over at Goodison Park and Shanks took me along to the game so he could introduce us. After the match we shot straight down to the dressing room and Shanks went in and got Denis to come to the door. He still had his kit on as the game had only just finished. 'Denis', he said, 'I want you to meet George Scott. He's going to be better than you.'"

He may well have added 'in fact, he's going to be the 12th best player in the world.' 

© LFChistory.net - Interview in January 2000 for Shankly.com and updated in February 2009

Shanks quote

"Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say... WE ARE LIVERPOOL."

Bill Shankly

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