6th January 1954 - 15th November 1955
"Workington threw out a challenge to me. They were struggling at the bottom of the Third Division North and were threatened with extinction. There was only one man they thought could save them and that was me, so they offered me a bonus if I saved them."
Shankly had undoubtedly taken a step down the football ladder on leaving Grimsby for Workington. The fact that he had walked out on two clubs, without actually winning anything tangible, meant that he was still to make an impression in the boardrooms of the wealthy senior clubs. Still, being the man he was, he attacked the Workington job with all the enthusiasm and relish he always showed at whatever he did.
Billy Watson groundsman and Shankly remember the Workington days
(uploaded by BULLFROGBUZZ)
The biggest problem Bill had on arrival at Borough Park was the fact that the town's rugby league team shared the playing surface with the football team. The pitch, owned by the football club, was leased out to the rugby side and provided vital income for the club. There was, however, a conflict of interests over the standard and condition of the grass, Shanks preferring a shorter cut and wider pitch boundary to that favoured by Gus Risman's rugby players.
Workington had only been a league side for two years and had had to apply for re-election at the end of both seasons. At the end of the 53-54 season, Shankly had lifted them to 20th position, 6 points clear of re-election. Gates had risen from 6,000 to 8,000. Playing a delightful brand of football, Workington were transformed.
Season 1953-54 saw them finish a creditable 8th in the old Third Division North. A wee cup run which saw them beat a strong Orient side against the odds also lifted morale at the club. By now, Shankly had recharged the batteries that had run so low after his experiences at Grimsby and he was looking to step up the managerial ladder again. The realisation, also, that Workington's ambitions were restrained by a chronic financial straitjacket meant there was no real future for him at the club. When he heard his old colleague from his Preston days, Andy Beattie was in trouble at Huddersfield, he was only too glad to tend his resignation at Workington to go and help him out.
League Matches: 85
1953/54: 18th in Divison 3 North
1954/55: 8th in Division 3 North
1955/56: resigned on 15th November 1955
"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!'"