Manager - Carlisle United

22nd March 1949 - June 1951

It was with a certain initial reluctance that Bill Shankly moved into football management for he was still convinced he had much to offer as a player. However, Preston still held his registration and refused to release it, thus preventing him from playing anywhere else. 35-year-old, qualified as a masseur, he took the Carlisle job in 1949 and went into his first managerial appointment determined to become the greatest football manager of all time.

Carlisle were a struggling Third Division North side who found it hard to attract southern based players because of their geographic remoteness. Shankly immediately turned this disadvantage on it's head and turned Brunton Park into something of a fortress. He would tell his players how tired the opposition must be at having to travel up to such a remote corner of the country. He made a quick impression on the local population too, urging them to come and support the team and help them to carry the hopes of the region to the rest of the country.

Shankly established his relationship with the fans in his own unique way: "I used to on the Tannoy at a quarter to three to speak to the people every other week before the game. Instead of putting something in the programme, I spoke to them, explaining if we'd changed the team, how it had played in the last game. Everything. The supporters loved it, they lapped it up."



Shankly at the end of his Preston North End career in 1948
one year before he took his first managerial job at Carlisle.

He dragged the club into a more professional outlook, providing a new strip for the first team, and got the board to purchase a large house which was converted into flats for new players coming into the club. In his first full season, 1949-50, Carlisle finished 9th, but had won over the people of the town with their brand of football. Season ticket sales for the start of the 1950-51 season were at an all time high.

That season saw Carlisle buzz to the excitement of a visit from Arsenal in an FA Cup replay after they had secured an amazing 0-0 draw at Highbury. A final league placing of 3rd wasn't quite good enough for promotion and after a squabble with the board, who had reneged on a bonus promise should the team finish in the top three, Shankly resigned and took up an offer from Grimsby Town.

Managerial Record:
League Matches: 95
Won: 42
Drawn: 31
Lost: 22

1948/49: 15th in Division 3 North
1949/50: 9th in Division 3 North
1950/51: 3rd in Division 3 North

Shanks quote

I know Ali got "Personality of the Century", but Shanks will always be number one in my book. My father was converted to the red faith (from Glasgow Rangers) in the mid 1960's by the power of this man. Can I share a story with you. My late Grandfather was a Liverpool fan all his life. Upon his retirement from the Docks in the late 1960's, he received his season ticket. He was shocked to find that the club had moved from his regular seat to one where he wasn't near the people he'd sat with for years, and where he'd get wet when it rained. My uncle took him to Anfield to try and get his old seat back. He explained he had just retired after working down the docks as man and boy. The people in the ticket office were completely unsympathetic, telling him that his seat was no longer available.

On leaving the office, he noticed Shanks walking in. "Bill, Bill" shouted by Grandfather, and the Great Man came over. My Grandfather explained the situation about his retirement, his time down the docks (working every night during the blitz) and a lifetime as a Liverpool fan. Shanks told him not to worry, to hang on and he'd sort it out. Five minutes later Shanks reappeared with the season ticket for my Grandfather's seat, and said ‚If you have any bother ever again, ask for me.‘ The man will always be number one in my book.

Colin Watt

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