Scottish legend Alex James singled out Shankly for praise for his contribution
to the Scotland team: "He is a real Scotland player who will fight until he drops."
Preston North End's correspondent, Walter Pilkington, wrote at the end of Shankly's debut season in 1934: "I was returning by train from a match at Plymouth in a 'sleeper', with Bill Shankly and Jimmy Dougal as bunk companions. I asked Bill what he wanted most: 'To play for Scotland, sir' he replied without a moment's hesitation."
Shankly was first selected to play for his country on 9th April 1938 against the auld enemy England at Wembley. Scots won the match 1-0 with a late goal from Tommy Walker.
He won 4 further caps before war broke out, playing against Northern-Ireland, Wales, Hungary, and England once more.
"It's fantastic. You look af your dark blue shirt, the wee lion looks up at you and says 'Get out after those English bastards!'"
During the war, Shankly played a further 7 times for Scotland, captaining them against England in a 3-1 defeat at Hampden on 3rd of May 1941 in front of 78,000 fans.
Shankly featured in the game Billy Liddell made his debut for Scotland in a dramatic 5-4 win at Hampden Park on 18th April 1942. Shankly played a big part and scored a memorable goal, which turned out to be his only goal for Scotland: "Jack Harkness gives Billy Liddell and Jock Dodds a big hand for their part in Scotland's shock win. But the inspiration, he says, came from the Busby - Shankly victory service... And amongst all these great goals we had probably the strangest national goal ever. Here's a goalkeeper, the hero of his side, losing a goal from 50 yards range. Willie Shankly was the devil in the piece. He placed a beautiful shot goalwards. Out came Marks to collect. Suddenly he stopped. In a twinkling he had the old saying brought home to him - "He who hesitates is lost." The ball bounced on the ground, sailed over his head, and into the empty goal." (Reported by Jack Harkness at Hampden Park).
*Shankly's international record for Scotland reads 5 games and no goal. His 7 wartime games and 1 wartime goal are not counted towards his total.
"Shankly loved cards, having played back home in Ayrshire with the miners, and when he was a player at Preston and Carlisle. He also played with us. I recall a long card game on a trip to Newcastle. Shankly was involved in the school and so was Bobby Graham, a nervous man who must have been relieved to know that his presence, on this occasion at least, was absolutely official. It was a tough school, with Yeats, Tommy Smith and Tommy Lawrence also participating, and it was fascinating to watch Shanks play. He squeezed the cards in the way that the miners did. He just took a quick glance and then clenched them in his hand so that it was impossible to see what he had, even when you were standing behind him.
On this occasion Graham cleaned up at three-card brag when his three threes beat Shankly’s three queens. Much to the manager’s embarrassment, he had run out of money. 'See me back at Anfield,' he said to Bobby as he got up from the school. On the next Monday, Bobby wasn’t sure about claiming his winnings. Naturally, we all argued that he deserved his money and urged him to march into Shankly’s office to ask him for it. We went with him. 'Boss, I’ve come for the grabs . . .' Bobby began. 'Oh aye, son,' said Shanks, handing him the winnings. As Bobby was leaving his office, Shankly added: 'Bobby, son, stay away from the cards. No good can come from them.'"
IAN ST JOHN