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
Alan Ball was Everton's idol at the time while his father, Alan Ball Snr, was the manager of Preston. Alan Snr asked Shankly if he wanted to accompany him to a midweek game against Wrexham. Shanks agreed, but said he would follow Alan in his own car in case he wanted to drive home before the end of the game. Shankly was uncertain of the directions to Wrexham, so Ball Snr agreed that Shanks would drive behind him. When he turned up at Shankly's house, Bill was pleased to see Alan Jnr. in the car with his father as he admired him as a player. When the two cars reached the Mersey tunnel, Shankly was struggling to keep up and ground to halt halfway through the tunnel. Shankly was renowned for his lack of driving skills and was rather accident prone. Shanks couldn't restart the engine. Ball Snr. was naturally concerned, 'I'll tell you what, Bill. I've got a rope in the boot. I'll attach it to your car and tow you to the tunnel exit. We'll then call a mechanic to sort out the problem. Shankly paused for a few seconds, thinking over Ball Snr's suggestion and then exclaimed: 'I don't think that's a good idea, son. Can you imagine the headlines in tomorra's Echo?' "SHANKLY DRAGGED OUT OF THE MERSEY TUNNEL BY THE BALLS."