Carlisle United

1932 - 1933

Young Shankly at Cronberry was attracting interest from the Football League. Two scouts, Peter Carruthers of Carlisle and Bobby Crawford of Preston, followed his progress. Bill's uncle, Billy Blyth, was a director at Carlisle United and this family connection undoubtedly helped Bill make the decision to go to Brunton Park. Preston were a division higher and Bill thought it best to make a start in professional football a rung lower down the ladder in Third Division North, earning £4 per week.

By the time Christmas 1932 had come round, Shankly was already forcing his way into the Carlisle first team. His displays as a hard running, gritty right-half, brought him much praise and credit and he was earmarked as a key young player capable of taking Carlisle on to greater things.

So dedicated to the game was Shankly, that during the summer of 1933, after completing his first season as a pro, he returned to Glenbuck where he continued to do his own training. Being an early exponent of the long throw-in he would practice by throwing balls over a row of houses and getting the small boys of the village to fetch them back for him.

Carlisle were struggling at the time and following Shankly's impressive debut season Preston came in for him again. Whilst in Glenbuck he received a telegram from Carlisle, which read, "Report to discuss transfer to Preston North End." After initially rejecting Preston's advances, Bill signed for Preston in a railway carriage just outside Haltwhistle.

"Carlisle was only a stepping stone. I knew I was going further than that. At the end of the season I was paid four pounds ten shillings a week, which was good, because the top rate in English football then was eight pounds. I was much better off than the coalminer for doing something in the fresh air that I would have done for nothing."

Playing statistics:
Debut: Dec 31st 1932 v Rochdale (2-2)
Games: 16
Goals: 0

Shanks quote

"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."

PATRICK COLLINS - Daily Mail reporter

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