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 only time Chris Lawler was injured was when Tommy Smith 'did' him in a five-a-side match at Melwood. We had just got the pitch levelled and Tommy, who was younger than Chris, caught him with the sole of his boot. Chris' ankle went up like a balloon, but he was only out of action for ten days. It was around this time we were due to play Anderlecht and one day we were playing a five-a-side game and Chris, still injured was watching. The boys called Chris 'Silent Knight' because he had so little to say for himself. My team in the five-a-side was claiming a goal and I said, 'Just hold on. Chris, you were watching.' 'Yes', he said. 'Speak up, Chris,' I said, 'I can't hear you. Did you think that was a goal, Chris?' 'No, he said.' 'Good God, Chris,' I said, 'this is the first time I've heard you speak to me and you tell me a bloody lie!'"

Bill Shankly telling the famous Chris Lawler story

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