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."
Debut: Dec 31st 1932 v Rochdale (2-2)
"I was sitting on a dustbin outside the temporary offices of Liverpool Football Club when three or four photographers arrived. 'Can I take a picture of you sitting there?', asked one. 'Well, they are signing a load of rubbish, so people might as well know it straight away,' I joked. There was nowhere else for me to sit. I sat on the dustbin for twenty minutes after the photographers had left. When Shankly came out of the door, he shook hands and said, 'Medical!' He beckoned me over to his car, a Capri and off we went. 'You'll like the stadium, son. Great'. He was driving the car while half-looking round at me. 'Great supporters, you know, son. The best in the land. Tremendous to play for. Have you seen the Kop? No, I don't suppose you have.' I never got the chance to say anything.
'We have some great players here, son. Great...great. Emlyn Hughes. Great player. Chris Lawler... great player. Tommy Smith... hard boy. Hard boy is Tommy... great player. Roger Hunt is gone, son. Ian St John is gone. But they're not forgotten, son. There is a future here if you knuckle down and play.' We arrived at the club doctor's surgery and I stripped off. Shankly watched me like a hawk. When we left the doctors he drove me back to the ground to talk terms. As he drove, he talked of the time when he first came to the club. 'Jesus Christ', he began. 'I asked a wee boy for directions and he knew who I was, and I'd only been in Liverpool half an hour!' He obviously could not wait to get me training. When we arrived at Anfield and walked into the temporary offices, I could hear him talking way ahead of me. Talking the way he always did - so everyone could hear, especially the person who was the subject of the conversation. 'He looks nothing dressed, but you should see him stripped off. He's built like a tank!'"