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

"When I took a physiotherapy course before I became a manager, I learned some valuable things. Notably about the heart, the intake of food for an athlete and particularly the timing of meals before a match. I put this into use. When I came to Liverpool, I stopped the system of players having a big meal on the night before a game. I adopted the pattern of taking them away on Friday night, timing the journey to reach the hotel about 10 pm, where the players had tea, toast and honey and then straight to bed.

On the day of the match, three hours before the kick-off, they could have a steak or chicken or poached eggs. They did not have a cooked breakfast as well. It was simple diet and and the word "simple" came into most of my football thinking in training and playing as well. I ate the same sort of food all my life and I've always been a fitness fanatic. The food players had before a match is to preserve their strength, not build it up. Players find what suits them best by trial and error. If their demand fell within the limits I laid down, that was all right. I also expected them to eat properly when they were not at the club, not to eat stupid things when they were out of control. Most of them did that but I invariably knew when any of them had stepped off the rails in any way. In any case, it usually told on their performance."

Shankly's recipe for success seemed simple on the surface, but was anything but!

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