COLIN WOOD - Daily Mail reporter when Shanks was manager
"I don't think there has ever been any character in sport with so many stories told about him like Bill Shankly. And the amazing thing about it is a lot of people don't believe that they're true, but nearly every story people tell about him is true. This is the man."
My club is Wrexham FC and I have been watching them since I was about 3. My father Bob Clark FCA was the former treasurer, director, chairman and life president before he passed away circa 2002.
The Wrexham board always had a special relationship with the Liverpool board and this was cemented I believe by the late secretary Peter Robinson and a match in 1978 at the Racecourse when Kenny Dalglish scored his first hat trick for Liverpool.
However there was more than that and to those that knew football the real relationship started because of one man, Bill Shankly.
Shankly had been sadly and unforgivably ousted by Liverpool's training ground and not welcome at the club. That is how I understood it and please forgive me if I am wrong. He was feeling rather empty and needing to fill his life with other resources through his true love of watching football matches. At that time circa 1977/78 Wrexham FC were riding on the crest of a wave and for a lower league team playing some very attractive and invincible football, very much in the tradition of the Liverpool teams Bill Shankly had created in his own image. The nation was beginning to sit up and watch. Arfon Griffiths was the Wrexham manager and Bill took an interest in the club and the matches and in many ways became a closet Wrexham fan, started by his journeys through the Merseyside tunnel and coming down to the late night games and sitting happily in the directors box.
As I was a frequent visitor there myself and being an excited kid of about eight years old and the directors box quite small, I heard all about this amazing man from my father. And then I saw him, Bill Shankly the legendary man who used to sit at the top right hand corner of the WFC directors box just above the stairs, so he could quickly nip to the exit. I guess to avoid any feeling of being trapped by watchful eyes. He started to recognise me as a young boy and after a few visits, he would look out for me with a big smile on his face and say 'Hello Toby, hello son' It's hard to put into words what it was about this man, and why that memory has stuck with me all my life. It wasn't just because he was famous, there was something else and possibly the reason he became famous. Quite possibly it was the sheer intensity in his eyes and the overwhelming sense of his presence. I know, I was incredibly lucky to have had his attention, even for just a fleeting moment and can understand completely when I hear someone like Kevin Keegan, talk about the incredible influence he had upon his life.
His fondness for Wrexham culminated in a famous night match at the Racecourse ground where in front of a packed ground on a muddy pitch we trounced and humiliated the first division side Newcastle 4-1 in the F.A..Cup, by playing them off the park. After the match in a packed press room, Bill Shankly took center stage and said "This Wrexham side are the greatest Third Division side I have ever seen". Those words have become legendary at the Racecourse and are indicative of just how great a side that team were and equally the wider influence of Bill Shankly upon our national game.
"We were back at Anfield and Shanks was up to his old tricks. As the United party made their way down the corridor to the away changing room, he appeared from his office. 'Guess what, boys?' he said, brandishing a little orange ticket. 'I've had a go on the tickets that give the time when the away team will score. And it says here, in a fortnight!' With that, he disappeared back into his office.
We lost that encounter 2-0 and after the game I was chatting to Liverpool's Ray Clemence, who revealed to me another piece of Shankly kidology.
Prior to the game, Shankly had received the United team sheet and he incorporated it into his team talk. His intention was to run us down and, in so doing, boost the confidence of his own players. 'Alex Stepney,' Shanks began. 'A flapper of a goalkeeper. Hands like a Teflon frying pan - non-stick. Right back, Shay Brennan. Slow on the turn, give him a roasting. Left back is Tony Dunne. Even slower than Brennan. He goes on an overlap at twenty past three and doesn't come back until a quarter to four. Right half, Nobby Stiles. A dirty little -beep-. Kick him twice as hard as he kicks you and you'll have no trouble with him.'
'Bill Foulkes, a big, cumbersome centre half who can't direct his headers. He had a head like a sheriff's badge, so play on him. Paddy Crerand. Slower than steam rising off a dog turd. You'll bypass him easily.' The Liverpool players felt as if they were growing in stature with his every word. 'David Sadler,' Shanks continued. 'Wouldn't get a place in our reserves. And finally, John Aston. A chicken, hit him once and you'll never hear from him again. As the manager finished his demolition job on United, Emlyn Hughes raised his hand. 'That's all very well, boss,' he said, 'but you haven't mentioned George Best, Denis Law or Bobby Charlton.' Shanks turned on him. 'You mean to tell me we can't beat a team that has only three players in it?' he said, glowering."
Shankly had high hopes about a youngster who could one day replace Ian Callaghan. The only problem was that the youngster was a bit on the thin side. Shankly, Fagan and Paisley decided that the lad needed a diet of steak. Paisley was given the job of ensuring that steak was delivered to the lads family every day.
The diet of steak continued through the end of the season and all through the summer. On the first day of pre season training the lad knocked on Shankly's door.
'Jesus Christ, son, you look like physical poetry. You're muscular. Those steaks have worked a treat' said Shankly.
The young boy tried to explain that he wanted to speak to Shanks because he had a bit of a problem. He wanted a week off because he had a few things to sort out because he had got a girl pregnant.
Shankly darted to the door of his office and shouted down the corridor,
'Joe, Bob, come here, quickly! We've created a bleeding monster!!!!'
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."
TOMMY DOCHERTY - [Adidas wanted to honour Bill just after he had announced his retirement]
"Adidas wanted to present him with a Golden Boot in recognition of what he'd done. Bob [Paisley] took the call and said, 'They want to know what shoe size you take'. Shanks shouted back, 'If it's gold, I'm a 28.'"
Shankly giving new signing Alec Lindsay instructions about his role as a Liverpool player.
'Listen son. I want you to take men on, go past them and lash in those shots that brought you the goals when you were playing at Gigg Lane.'
'But that wasn't me boss. That was Jim Kerr.' protested Lindsay.
'Jesus Christ, Bob.' said Shankly to Paisley. 'We've signed the wrong bloody player.'
PATRICK BARCLAY - Journalist
Although much of Shankly's reign was before my entry into the world of journalism, I do have a tale of my own to tell about the man. I'd started in the job of a football reporter in 1974, just before Shankly's resignation, and I'd been asked to write a piece about Ian Callaghan for the Guardian newspaper. I quizzed one of my colleagues on how I'd go about it and he told me to ring Shankly at Anfield. To me, Shankly was something of a god and the idea of phoning him was quite fanciful, but my co-worker was adamant. So I rang and explained who I was to the receptionist, expecting her to laugh and tell me Shankly was a very busy man and wouldn't be able to speak with me. But, suddenly, a voice appeared at the other end and I realised it was Shankly pretty quickly - nobody else said 'yes' quite like him in that almost aggressive, bristling way of his. I was stammering furiously at this point, so much so he could probably have seen me blushing down the phone.
'I was just wondering what you thought of Ian Callaghan?' I asked. There was a slight pause before Shankly replied, 'Jesus Christ!' 'Oh no,' I thought, 'I've upset him and now he's swearing at me.' I apologised, but he replied, 'No, no son. I'm saying Jesus Christ is who Ian Callaghan reminds me of. 'Cally's the greatest man to have existed on this earth since Jesus Christ and he sets an example for everyone around him. He lives his life properly and provides an inspiration for everyone that comes into contact with him.' That was Shankly through and through. You could turn on his enthusiasm. Even a stranger like myself, an unknown journalist, could do it like turning on a tap.
CRAIG JOHNSTON in his autobiography "Walk On".
"Liverpool were heading for the French capital and a European Cup Final rendezvous with Real Madrid. As a non-playing member of the squad, I went along for the ride. Our fans were in high spirits and a few hundred of them had selected a Parisian hotel to wet their throats in preparation for a night of vocal s.upport. It was still a couple of hours before kick-off and the air was thick with Scouse accents and singing. Then in walked Shankly. The place fell silent in an instant. They gathered around him in a circle. The great man, by this stage in retirement, said a few shorts words on what he expected of Liverpool and their fans that night. I'd never seen anything like it. For me, it was a lesson about a vital ingredient I had overlooked in the heady weeks following my transfer. Respect. I'd seen Dalglish and Paisley at close quarters and observed the esteem in which they were held. But it was nothing like this."
"Shanks went on to tell me the story of the Liverpool full back Gerry Byrne, who, having won a place in the England team, felt he was worth considerably more than his new contract was offering. However, the way Shanks saw it, Gerry was paid for what he did for Liverpool. The fact that he had made the England team had nothing to do with what he was paid at Anfield and therefore it did not merit a rise in his wages. Gerry argued that international status was proof he had become a better player with his club.
'I may be wrong on other points, boss,' Gerry said, pressing his point. 'But I am right on this one, aren't I?'
'So what if you are?' Shanks told him. 'Even a broken clock is right twice in a day.'"
When Shankly was manager at Grimsby, he was stopped by the police for speeding. The officer involved told him, 'You were going a bit fast there, Mr. Shankly.' To which Shankly replied, 'You must have been going fast yourself to keep up with me.'
JOHN KEITH - Journalist who was a favourite of Shankly's
"Bill Shankly's suspicions of dirty tricks in foreign lands were always at their height when Liverpool travelled behind the former Iron Curtain. On one trip into Eastern Europe, a member of the club party called at Bill's hotel room and found him standing on a chair talking to the ceiling light.
'I know you're there ... you're spying on us,' he shouted, borrowing nothing from James Bond. Then, still glaring upwards, he demanded: 'Why don't you come out, you cowards?'"
In Bucharest before an away European tie Shankly was raging because the hotel had no Coca-Cola for his players.
"Its a conspiracy. A war of nerves."
During Shankly‘s playing days he was asked if it was true that he would tackle his own grandmother
'Don't be stupid. She would have more sense than to come anywhere near me.'
Bill Shankly response to Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein's request of getting tickets for the 1965 Cup Final
"I've never seen any of the Beatles standing on the Kop and any tickets I have spare will be going to my mates on the Kop."
"Following a game against Southampton at Anfield, a young reporter from the Southern Evening Echo collared Shanks to ask him what he thought about a young Southampton winger called Mick Channon. Shanks was polite and told the reporter he thought the young Channon was a very good winger indeed.
'Would you say he's as good a player as Stan Matthews?' the reporter asked.
'Oh, aye,' Shankly said earnestly. 'As a player he's definitely on par with Stan Matthews.'
The reporter thanked Shanks for his time and turned away, scribbling the quote into his notebook. Suddenly, Shanks reached out and caught the young man by the arm. 'This Channon is as good a player as Stan Matthews,' he said, 'but what you have to remember is that Stan is sixty-five now.'"
IAN ST JOHN (Shankly made Ron Yeats model the all-red strip that Liverpool first used on 25th of November 1964)
"He thought the colour scheme would carry psychological impact — red for danger, red for power. He came into the dressing room one day and threw a pair of red shorts to Ronnie Yeats. 'Get into those shorts and let’s see how you look,' he said. 'Christ, Ronnie, you look awesome, terrifying. You look 7ft tall.' 'Why not go the whole hog, boss?' I suggested. 'Why not wear red socks? Let’s go out all in red.' Shankly approved and an iconic kit was born."
[Yeats later ran out of the tunnel at an empty Anfield while Shanks stood on the pitch beside himself with excitement: 'Jesus Christ, son. you look bloody massive. You'll scare them to death.']
"Denis Law said to Shankly that he enjoyed coming to Anfield because 'you always get a lovely cup of tea‘. Shanks turned to Denis and said, 'Aye, Denis son, but that's all you'll get when you come here. A cup of tea!'"
(Shanks had clear ideas on sex before a game - "Of course a player can have sexual intercourse before a match and play a blinder. But if he did it for six months, he'd be a decrepit old man. It takes the strength from the body.")
IAN ST JOHN
"At first he told us to wear boxing gloves in bed on Friday nights, then later he would tell us to send the wife to her mother."
Bill Shankly to the wives of the players. He had phoned the players earlier asking them to refrain from sex before playing Manchester United. Liverpool won 3-0.
'Ladies, tonight is your night. And if the men perform half as well as they did this afternoon, you're in for a bloody good night.'
"Shanks had a knack of making his players feel special. One night before a particularly big match he phoned my wife and told her to lock me away on my own all night. He said that sex was out of the question because he wanted his most vital player at his peak the next day. I felt ten feet tall, until I found the next day that Shanks had also rung up Ian St John’s and Roger Hunt’s wives and told them exactly the same thing!"
Horace Yates of the Liverpool Daily Post was standing in the foyer of a Budapest hotel prior to a European fixture against Ferencvaros. Horace had clearly written something that had made Shankly angry. Shankly walked up to him and bellowed: 'I'm not talking to you or your paper again, the stuff you write is crap, it's bloody rubbish.. I wouldn't wipe my backside with it. So don't ever come to me again. d'yer hear?'
At that moment a Hungarian tapped Shankly on the shoulder. Shankly wheeled round and boomed: 'Will you bugger off! I'm talking to a friend of mine.'"
Everton had just signed Alan Ball so Shankly decided to welcome him by phoning him
"Congratulations on your move son. You'll be playing near a great side."
When travelling in a car with Frank Worthington they passed Goodison Park. Worthington was nearly signed by LFC but failed the medical. Shankly pointed a finger at Goodison.
'Take no notice of that laddie. There's only 2 teams in Liverpool. Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.'
Attending the funeral of Everton legend Dixie Dean, Shanks was amazed by the size of the crowd outside St James' church.
"I know this is a sad occasion but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death he could draw a bigger crowd than Everton can on a Saturday afternoon."
Shankly remembered Dixie Dean fondly that day
"Today there is no red or blue, no black and white, no Protestants and Catholics, just mourning for a great footballer."
Shankly went for a haircut in 1963. The barber asked him if he wanted anything off the top.
'Aye, Everton.' he replied.
"In pre-season you got in an at Anfield and you then put a pair of trainers on. They weren’t like trainers like you have today for running on the roads. They were pumps. You need to run from Anfield to Melwood. Around Melwood three or four times and then run all the way back. Roger Hunt and I used to travel with the train from Warrington and after about three days, we couldn’t even go down the steps, the backs of our calves were just gone. As soon as Shanks came he just changed it. ‘You play on grass and you will train on grass.’ And that was it. Then we actually saw a bag of balls. We had never seen a bag of balls."
IAN ST JOHN on the first game after the "This is Anfield" sign had been put up at Anfield
"When the sign went up Liverpool were playing Newcastle. The Newcastle players are in the passage way and they see the sign. Malcolm Macdonald, "Supermac" is going: ‘Oh we’ve got the right ground, lads. This is Anfield.’ Shanks heard him. They get into dressing room, get stripped, go out and play. Liverpool won, it was 5-0. After the game boss goes in and knocks on their door. Joe Harvey says: ‘Yes, Bill.’ ‘Is Supermac there?’ They are sitting there, they had just been battered. Shanks then went: ‘You’ll know where it is next time.’"
Shankly hated players being injured. Chris Lawler was in the Anfield treatment room after making 316 consecutive appearances for Liverpool between October 1965 and April 1971. Paisley told Shankly that there was no way that Lawler could play in the next game because his ankle had swollen up like a balloon.
'He's a bloody malingerer,' snapped Shankly angrily.
Shankly appearing as a guest on the t.v. show 'This Is Your Life' when Jimmy Tarbuck was the subject of the programme. As he passed the shows host, Eamonn Andrews, he said
'You know, Eamonn, I've been on this show more than you.'
On a European trip, behind the Iron Curtain, the Liverpool party were signing the hotel register. The desk clerk said to Shankly in broken English: 'Excuse me, Mr Shankly, but where it says "home address" you've written "Anfield"
Shankly replied, 'That's right. That's where I live.'
Shankly to defender Peter Wall
"I've had my spies out and I've been told you were in a nightclub until 3 o'clock in the morning. Who do you think you are........Errol Flynn?"
LFC played Dinamo Bucharest in the European Fairs Cup on 4th November 1970. The club used to fly Aer Lingus and Shanks invited Air Lingus' representative, Jim Kennefick, to sit on the bench. Kennefick sat beside Phil Boersma and as the game was in progress Jim turned to Boersma and offered this pleasantry in his rich resonant Irish tones: 'PHIL BOERSMA... Alright!!'
Boersma's name was heard by Bob Paisley, who told Boersma to replace Alun Evans. The move paid off handsomely as Boersma scored in a 1-1 draw. 'Sending on Boersma was a great decision, Bob', said Shankly beaming afterwards. Paisley was taken aback and replied, 'Nowt to do with me, Bill. I thought I heard you shout his name.' It was only on the coach heading for the airport that the mystery man responsible for the switch was identified as Jim Kennefick. Jim later joined Liverpool, but in an executive role, not on the coaching staff!
When he was in charge at Carlisle United they were 2-0 down at half time in one game. When the players came into the dressing room Shankly vented his anger on his captain Geoff Twentyman.
'What did you call at the toss up?' enquired Shankly.
'Heads,' Twentyman replied.
'Jesus Christ laddie,' screamed Shankly. 'Never call heads'.
Shankly and Bob Paisley were taking petrol. Shankly parked out the pump, but nobody came to pump the gas. Shankly was flabbergasted: 'Jesus Christ, where are they? The service is slow to react. Bob chipped in: 'It's one of these new-fangled things like...' 'Jesus Christ, Bob what's going on?' Then suddenly a disembodied metallic voice shouted: 'Choose your grade. Choose your grade.' So, Bob said: 'I'll go out and have a look...' Bob got out, came back and said: 'It's one of them self-service..'So Shankly jumped out of the car, ran to the window and said: 'I don't know who you are, but if any of my players were as lazy as you I'd sack them, the bloody lot of them!'
** The fans' stories **
After he had retired, the London Branch of the Supporters’ Club on whose committee I was then serving wanted to give him a retirement gift. He seemed embarrassed to be asked at all but said he would like a simple radio. The presentation took place after a home game in the Autumn in 1974 and was held in The Vines public house (sometimes called the Big House), which was being run at that time by ex-boxer Alan Rudkin. It was packed but Shanks was in his element.
Many of the stories told about him are probably apocryphal but one I can testify to is of a young lad who was making his first visit to Liverpool.
Shanks: 'Where are you from?'
'I'm a Liverpool fan from London.'
Shanks: 'Well laddie . . . . What's it like to be in heaven?'
This was the day and the occasion it happened. I heard the “What’s it like to be in Heaven?” comment myself.
I have a few memorable personal recollections of the great man. Immediately after the never-to-be-forgotten European Cup win in Rome in 1977 Tommy Smith had his testimonial game at Anfield, which was a match between Liverpool (who had just returned from Rome to an open topped bus reception through the streets of the city) and an England XI. I can’t remember the result but, because my best mate was the organiser of Smithy’s testimonial committee, I was in the directors box for the game and had access to the trophy room afterwards. Talk about a kid in a candy store!! I caressed both the League Championship trophy and the European Cup and got stuck into the scotch whilst having a conversation with Bobby Charlton (I kid you not). Eventually I saw the great man standing in a corner of the trophy room, totally alone, traditional white mac draped on his shoulders. I felt compelled to speak to him but had difficulty summoning up the bottle to do so. Eventually, after a couple more large drams I plucked up courage to pass him on my way to the toilet. “This is all down to you Mr Shankly” I blurted out. “Thank you, son” he replied. I went to the toilet and cried my eyes out. I should maybe point out that I was nearly 40 at the time so his reference to me as ‘son’ and my lachrymose reaction were indicative of the way that football transcends normal human responses.
Kopulater from RAWK forum
"I remember a home game the week after we had lost to Everton. Shanks was signing autographs at the Anfield players entrance and he would not sign with a pen that had blue ink, so all of us kids were running round looking for somebody who had red or green ones. He was the greatest - never to be replaced no matter what we win."
Bryan Robinson Liverpool
I met Bill shankly in the early 1970's at Everton's Bellefield training ground. I was getting treatment on my ankle when all of a sudden in walked Bill with Jim McGregor, Everton's physio at the time. Jim said to Bill: "Tell Bryan about when the Liverpool kit basket went missing during a trip to Aston Villa with all the different tablets for the players in it."
Bill replied: "Well, son, we found the basket in the Gwlady's Street and all the sleeping tablets were missing!"
Vic Gill, Shankly's son-in-law
Just one of my abiding memories of him, We were sitting at the dinner table waiting for Nessie to serve Sunday lunch when the door bell rang. Mr. Shankly went to open the door, there was a muted conversation then he came back and said "Nessie put my dinner in the oven I'm going out to play football with the lads", now the lads just happened to be a few local teenagers.
"Terry De Niro"
I had the pleasure of seeing him coming up to the Kop with many a trophy, and I'll never forget the joy and total pride that he always had on his face.
I remember in 73 when Northern Ireland's home internationals had to be played in England because of the troubles. My mate and I went to watch them against England at Goodison. After the game we stood behind the main stand hoping to get a glimpse of some the players etc..
After about half an hour this little smart fella comes out of one of the doors and there's a mad commotion with fans and photographers all pushing up to greet him. That smart little fella was the great man himself..
I'll never forget the look on everybody's face as he walked up towards us. Even the photographers who were taking pictures were pausing and looking at him as if he was God..
I have many a memory that I could share...... could talk all day about him.
However I'll just put this as an indicator to some of our younger fans as to what Shankly was all about.
Midweek game in the 70s.
A group of rag arsed Liverpool fans hitch down to London for a game against Spurs.
No tickets....no money.
Liverpool put in a poor display and lose the game.
The same group of lads are waiting to see the team outside the players entrance after the match.
They file past onto the team coach.
After a while Shanks comes out...sees the lads and stops for a chat.
He soon realises they don't have a carat and are going to hitch it back to London.
He tells them to follow him and leads them onto the team coach.
He stands at the front and rips the players apart......informing them that these lads are why they play for Liverpool.
That while they are in a warm comfy coach,then in their warm comfy beds.... these boys will be on a motorway somewhere.
He tells them to put their hands in their pockets so the lads can have something to eat and get home properly.
The players duly oblige, Shanks thanks them for their support and hands them enough cash to get to New York and back.
He tells the players that if they had shown as much passion and commitment tonight against Spurs as these lads had in getting there to support them, they wouldn't have had a problem.
Different time, different world.....same philosophy demanded today.
My father, Tommy Cavanagh played for Preston North End and Huddersfield Town for Bill and along with Peter Docherty they became close friends and my dads mentors. It is true Bill never recovered from leaving Liverpool, and it was rumoured that he was asked not to go to the training ground which was close to where he lived which broke his heart. I recall visiting home in the seventies when my dad was the coach of Manchester United. Saturday night was always the same - coming home from a match and watching match of the day and the phone ringing. 'That will be Bill', dad said - he always rang to talk about the game - It was very sad and not a fitting end for someone who achieved so much.
In the mid-60's my brother was working as a floor tiler on a job at Anfield. He met Mr Shankly and asked him if some of the lads would autograph one of the tiles for him. "Aye, Laddie. Leave it to me" and off he went. The next day he returned the tile to my brother with the autographs of all the first team players on the reverse. He was a great man loved by all of us. May his soul rest in peace.
It’s 25 years since the great man died but, in this excerpt from Far Foreign Land, I try to give a sense of his appeal
Without Shankly, would we be in Istanbul? That question does not refer to the club he rebuilt after taking over as manager on December 1,1959. Nor is it meant to assess the teams he created. It is about the metaphysical effect that he had on the supporters, the sense of involvement, belief and love he fostered. Ian St John, the man who scored the goal that brought the FA Cup back to Anfield for the first time in 1965,said:‘For Bill Shankly, football was a moral issue rather than mere sport.’ Shankly communicated this to the supporters and made them believe.
He was a socialist who had an unerring faith in people, a man with exceptional powers of motivation and he made us understand that this football club was more than just a business. More than anyone, he made it a cultural symbol.
It was a stunning synthesis. Shankly was a natural demagogue who had found a constituency whose tastes tramlined perfectly with his vision. That he built a successful team very quickly was almost secondary; his appeal transcended the mere kicking of a ball. The statue that stands outside the Kop shows him with his arms outstretched, taking the acclaim, fists clenched and has the legend ‘He made the people happy’ on its plinth. Shankly did. He also charged the supporters with a fervour that went sometimes beyond the bounds of rationality and fed a belief that this game could become a vehicle for a people’s hopes and dreams; that success in football could become a weapon in the guerrilla warfare that a downtrodden and alienated section of society was constantly conducting in a world that ignored their interests and aspirations. After the club got rid of him in an unseemly manner in 1974 – a compulsive resigner, he did it once too often and they jumped at the chance – he went to games at Anfield and Goodison for pleasure. One night, coming out of an Everton home match – in the days when it was cheap, most football-mad youngsters went to both grounds in the city – I saw Shankly appear from the players’ entrance. The crowd waiting for autographs milled around him and followed him down the road as he began the three-mile walk home. People asked questions and he answered them, his love of the game showing in his enthusiasm .Over the journey ,some dropped off, so that the group of about 80 was down to 20 or so by the time he reached home. At his gate – outside a humble semi in West Derby – he said: ‘I’d love to invite you in, boys, but I’d be in trouble with the missus...’He pulled a henpecked face. Magnificent. It was a very long walk home, but worth it.
From his book "Far Foreign Land."
Bill Shankly lived near my school and one day after he retired he came along to give a fitness training session in the sports field. The last thing he said was indelibly imprinted on my young mind. "Remember lads, it disnae matter what sport ye play be it fitba rugby athletics or whatever, if ye believe ye can beat the other guy then ye can beat 'em, if ye think ye cannae then ye've nae chance." The man was a true legend.
My uncle was a vice chairman of Liverpool in the late 60 early 70s and I met Bill Shankly a couple of times. I remember once sitting directly behind him in the Directors box at Coventry when a handball was given for a ball that was driven against Ian Callaghans arm. I, shall we say, queried the refs decision. Well the reaction from Shanks to my comment was something I will never forget. He got up shook my hand, asked my uncle my name and told him that I clearly new something about Football. As many have said he made me feel ten feet tall in one sentence. Not surprisingly in my view a great man.
In the 1970's my Dad was a milkman in Liverpool. Bill's daughter was on my Dad's round but I never knew this as he was an evertonian. I was a Liverpool supporter and one night I was helping Dad collect the milk money. He told me to go and knock on this door and ask for the money. I knocked on the door and Bill Shankly opened it!! I was literally gobsmacked. My dad had seen Bill's car outside. They both had a good laugh about it and Bill gave me 50p!! A great memory of a great man.
As a young boy I have an abiding memory of being sent to call on Bill Shankly as he was late to play football with us local kids on Barnfield (now renamned the Bill Shankly Memorial Ground) I knocked on the door and asked Nessie "is Bill coming out?". She asked me to wait inside whilst he got himself ready and whilst there noticed a pile of photos of himself by the telephone which he kept ready for doorstep callers. I still have my signed copy proudly displayed at home today. He was such a great bloke!
Please find attached a picture which you may wish to use on your website.
It was taken in December 1972 in Bill Shankly's office at Anfield - that's me aged 12 sitting in his chair. Tragically, my father had been killed in a work's accident amonth or so earlier and his work colleagues arranged this trip in an attempt to cheer me up a little.
I also had the opportunity to meet some of the outstanding players of the day, such as Kevin Keegan (whatever happened to him?), Ian Callaghan, Emlyn Hughes and Steve Heighway (to name but a few), as well as future managers, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.
A memorable day but without doubt, the highlight was meeting the great Bill Shankly .... "come into my office" .... "sit yourself down in my chair" ...."how are ye, son?".
When I lived in West Derby many moons ago (1967 to be exact, I was 9) I used to go the training ground at Melwood to see the players and get any autographs. Most of the time we (me and my mates who came) got chased for climbing up on the wall, mainly by a chap called Reuben Bennett who was one of the trainers with Bob Paisley, Anyway this went on until one day, as usual we were sitting on the wall (about 10ft high and it seemed like the Empire State Building, I drive passed it every now and again and it brings back memories) and Shanks came along, looked up at us with his usual glare so we started to shift quick. He shouted to us to get down so of course we started to do as we were told. Before we could jump back down he told us to jump down on to his side. We thought he was going to give us a hiding, but we did as we were told any way! I can still remember shaking as I stood there in front of him looking down at us.
"I‘ve seen you lads up there for the last two weeks and you‘re going to get yourselves killed if you fall of the bloody wall". We just stood there waiting for the ceremonial kick up the backside on the way out.
"Do you lads want have a look round and see the players working?", he said.
We all just stood there hardly believing that Shanks was talking to us.
"Er, yeh ok Bill ta mate!" Or something like that anyway!
Shanks then proceeded to take us round the ground, stopping to show us Roger Hunt working away in what was known as the "Sweat box". He was kicking the ball up against a wooden fence the size of a goal and chasing after the ball to kick it against another wooden fence about 20 yards away and so on. After watching the players do their exercises we then got taken into wooden huts where they got changed. I got all the main autographs, Hunt, St John, Yeats (who was just an absolute giant to me!), Callaghan, Lawler, Strong, Stevenson, Lawrence, Thompson, Smith and the one I was desperate to get has he‘d only just signed for them was Tony Hateley.
The one thing I always remember was sitting next to Roger Hunt in the changing room and he was pouring with sweat, totally knackered. He looked at me, said "ok lad, give us your book and pen" and he signed his name and his sweat dripped on to my autograph book from off his nose! You got to realise this was Roger Hunt who had won the World Cup the year before and was just my bestest favouritist player of all time! On the way out, Shankly shouted to us "now you lads won‘t be sitting on that bloody wall anymore now will ye?" "No promise we won‘t Bill, honest." I don‘t know about my mates but I never went back after that. I just thought if Bill Shankly tells you to do something, you do it!
Peter McGunnigle - (a scouser living in Oxford England)
I was just a teenage boy in the front row of the kop on the day the famous photograph (that the Shankly statue was modelled on) was taken. When you were close to the man he had an aura that you could not describe. He was a giant of a man who restored pride in the red half of merseyside and he will always be missed. Even writing this I have a lump in my throat thinking about that day and others when the Kop sang Shankly to the tune of Amazing Grace - he was a one-off.
Alistair Walker, Zurich, Switzerland
Bill inherited the great gift of hyperbole, often used as metaphor in the West of Scotland. A week before his heart attack a reporter called at his house to be told by his wife Bill was he was playing football with the youngsters in a local park. When Bill returned reporter asked him if he didn't think he was too old to be playing football. Bill replied "There are players in the 1st division wish they were as fit as I am" So many stories its great to read them. He will always be a hero to me.
I had the privilege of meeting Bill Shankly on several occasions. The first time I met him he was in the canteen drinking tea at a formica topped table along with the apprentices and the young players. The first team squad and the second team squad were in their respective lounges having lunch. Bill Shankly invited myself to have a cup of tea and a long chat.
In 1968 when I was about four years old my Grandad introduced me to Bill Shankly before a game at Anfield. I still remember him making a big fuss of an avid and very young Liverpool fan. A memory that has lived with me for 38 years and will stay with me forever. He made a massive impression on me even though I only spoke with him for about 2 minutes. I think some of the top premiership managers could learn a lesson or two from him. He didn't study psychology, his man management came from a true heart and love of everything that goes with football.
Before going to a West Ham v Liverpool game my mate Jeff who is a big West Ham fan said "I think we can beat Liverpool today". Just then Shankly was being interviewed by the BBC. In his broad Scottish twang he said: 'I love coming down to London to play West Ham. You get a great game of football and two points". And yes you guessed it the Pool won 4-2.
A man of the people for the people... I could listen to the stories about him all day, but one of the best I heard was about him practicing for his press conferences with Bob. If he made Bob laugh with a comment, he'd say "I'll use that one!" Absolute class and the the standard of Man I'll always aspire to being.
I was walking through the car park at Anfield as a little boy and suddenly said to my uncle. "look there's god" to which 'god' came over and patted my head.
I used to sometimes "bunk off" school to spend the day in the Anfield car park waiting to get autographs from the players, Bill Shankly always gave me his autograph, usually accompanied by the words "Shouldn't you be at school son?"
my father went in the lfc shop as it was in the 1960's to buy a badge, they did not have any but bill was there at this time and took his badge off and said "here son have mine!"
Bill Switched on the Christmas lights in Church Street Liverpool must have been 69 or 70? As he left the podium the crowd pushed forward and he missed his footing crashing into me, then just a wee boy of 5 or 6. "you okay wee man?" The legend said as he shook my hand with a vice like grip "Yes sir I stammered" and he was gone. Memories, YNWA Bill God Bless. I remember our little clash every time I walk through the gates!
Heres quite a famous story of an incident that happened on a pre season tour to the U.S.
When the plane landed Bob Paisley asked Bill if he would like to go to the airport bar for a drink. Bill looking at his watch exclaimed "its bloody three in the morning im off to bed" When Bob tried to explain that they had crossed an international time zone and it was in fact 7 in the evening U.S. time. Bill in typical Shankly fashion pronounced that he was off to bed and no Yank was going to tell him what time it was.
Ian K - originally posted on the old RAOTL forum
It seems all kinds of former players, coaching staff and journos, have a story about Shankly to tell. It occurred to me that many of us fans must have one too. Here's mine.
In 1975 after a game at Leicester, a group of fellow Liverpool "fans" deciced to loot the mail depot in Leicester station. They dragged a couple of sacks onto the special and took them into the toilets to rifle them , presumably looking for money. When they'd finished, they set fire to them. It quickly got out of hand and the train had to be temporarily abandoned at Crewe while the burnt out carriage was taken out of service. Obviously I can't condone this behaviour but I should be grateful to them because it was the first link in a chain of events which led to us meeting the great man.
Football specials were banned for a time after this, so on Sat 18th Oct 1975 we set out for Coventry for our first ever adventure on what was to become known as "The Ordinary".
Boarding the train at Lime St. a guard sees the red scarves sported by some of us and says "your mates on here". He was referring to Shankly. We quickly found him sitting in one of those small 1st class carriages with the sliding door and 6 seats. He was with Reuben Bennett(an LFC coach or scout or something, I can't remember). We hovered by the door for a moment wondering whether we should bother him. He spots the red scarves and jumps up, throws the door open and says "come in lads, pleased to meet you". The warmth of the man put us at ease right away, we were only kids really, about 5 of us aged 15 to 17.
Our 1st question was the obvious one "are you going the match?" "Yes, but not the Liverpool match" We were amazed. He was going to watch Brum v Leeds. He said he had a lot of friends and relations down there, I think his nephew, Roger Hynd played for them at the time. We all got his autograph on the back of our rail ticket, which i've still got. This is why I can remember the exact date.
I can't remember much of the rest of the conversation, but what I can remember is Reuben Bennett kept butting in to tell us to make sure we behaved ourselves, don't let the club down, that sort of thing. We were with him for about 10 minutes, and as we were saying our farewells to the sound of another good behaviour warning from Bennett, Shankly calls us back "and lads" he growled,"when you change at Birmingham, if you see any Leeds fans, give them a kick from me". Bennetts face hit the deck and we went searching for seats laughing our heads off.
For the next half hour we were on a big high talking about what had just happened, then suddenly we all felt a bit pissed off when we thought of all the things we could have talked about and asked him, so we decided to go back for another go.
No chance. As we looked down the corridor towards where his carriage was, we seen a huge queue of people, all waiting to meet the man himself, as if they were being granted an audience with royalty, which of course they were.
I met Bill Shankly in the Seventies. It was following an away game in London. I used to travel to all of Liverpool games mainly on my own by train. I had just got on the train at Euston when the Liverpool team and Bill Shankly got on. I was in the first 2ed class carriage after the buffet bar the team were in the last first class carriage on the other side of the buffet bar After we had been under way for a bit the door of the buffet bar opened and out came Bill Shankly. He spoke to some fans, signed autographs and photos. He came to the table I was sitting at and sat opposite me. He asked me what I thought of the performance. We had won and the Reds had played well. He asked me how long I had supported Liverpool and I told him I had seen two or three games before he had arrived at Anfield. He smiled at that. He asked me who my favourite player was and I replied Emlyn Hughes. He told me the story of how he had signed Emlyn. He then got out some black and white photographs of him on the pitch at Anfield posing with the FA Cup. He also gave me a card with his private address on and invited me to have tea with him and nessie sometime and his phone number to let him know when I could come .Unfortunatly I never went.
He gave me a note saying hand this in at the players enterance whenever I am at Anfield providing it wasn't a matchday and I could have a quick tour of Anfield. This I did and saw the old trophy room the dressing rooms .I got to touch the This Is Anfield Sign and walk on the pitch. I met Emlyn, Chris Lawler and Ian Callaghan .I'll never forget Bill he was just like anyones granddad or father. He was so friendly and a true gentleman.
John Kinloch, New York USA
As a Celtic supporter, who was fortunate enough to know the late Jock Stein, he always told the story of 1967. Celtic had just won the European Cup and they were all in the dressing room with the door locked. 'Absolutely no one in', Big Jock said. THERE WAS A VERY LOUD BANGING ON THE DOOR THAT WOULD NOT STOP. Eventually the door was opened in came Shanks and declared in a loud voice, 'John Stein you are immortal'. That was Shankly and Stein, I asked Stein WHY? His reply "We were both miners and that brings people together." I admired him and loved his sharp wit. HE RETIRED TOO SOON.
Thanks for the memories Shanks
rest in Peace.
A Liverpool fan recollects this brilliant Peter Thompson story
Thommo was in the bath after the match with all the lads, and showing off. With good cause an all, he'd just played a blinder and Shankly stormed into the changing room and roared at Thommo... "My office now Son!"
Thommo leapt out the bath, got dressed without even getting dry, legged it to Shanks office, pulled himself together and tapped on the door.
Shanks called him in, and beamed at him....
"Thommo. Thommo son. Come and sit down lad."
Thommo sat nervously at the desk.
Shanks... "You was good today Thommo son. Unbelievable. A bloody marvel."
Thommo stopped shaking and said Thanks.
"Tell you what son, fast... fast... you was fast as a racehorse today Son."
Thommo now feeling good about himself....
"I was wasn't I boss?"
"Oh aye, son. And strong, you was strong as a bloody Carthorse Son."
Thommo, now made up with himself...
"I know Boss. I was great today. I felt really fast and as strong as a Carthorse."
"Aye. And your as daft as a bloody Rocking Horse an all lad! Now Get Out Of My Office! And you won't be playing next week you bloody idiot!"
My Dad once met Bill Shankly on a train back from a game at Portman Road (imagine that nowadays!). Not sure what season this was, but I know that Keegan was amongst the players in Shanks's entourage. Apparently the fans were talking up Keegan's performance and asking Shanks just how highly he rated KK. Shankly's considered retort was "Aye, aye, he's no bad. Not fit to lace Tom Finney's boots mind. Now Finney, there was a player..." at this the players all rolled their eyes as if to say 'here we go again!'
CHOPPER from Rawk
My cousin used to play football against Bill and a friend of his every Sunday afternoon in West Derby (just off Barnfield Drive) There called the Bill Shankly playing fields now, nothing serious, just a knock about, though Bill always played in his red Liverpool tracky, I reckon he thought he was playing for us and he always took it dead serious from what I can remember.
I even played once in goal, the fucker scored against me. I just stood there looking at him, I didn't even go after the ball I just stood there looking at him. They never let me play again after that. I was a liability apparently and they always told me it was just a knock about.
A Heath, tower hill Kirkby
What a legend is the great shanks always remember being a youngster with the biggest crush on shanks for some reason the funny thing was i used to have to sneak to anfield and the training ground to get a glimpse of this handsome man as all of my family including myself were massive evertonians. although i am still a blue today i still have them same loving feeling for shanks so to the love of my LFC - R.I.P big man i love you x