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Bill Shankly - The legend, The Genius, The Man

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  • Born September 2 1913 - Glenbuck, Scotland.

    Bill Shankly is the man rightly attributed with taking Liverpool Football Club from just another league team to the point where we were feared. When he left the club in 1974 he left it at a point where Bob Paisley managed to conquer Europe. Quite frankly without Bill Shankly I doubt very much that Liverpool would be were they are today. Shankly was a man of the people who never forgot his roots and because of his upbringing felt a pull and special affection for the people of Liverpool. This was certainly returned to the great man and he will never be forgotten.

    Shankly played the majority of his playing career at Preston Noth End. He played at Preston between 1933 and 1949 with the war depriving him of countless more appearances at both club and international level. Shankly in fact played as a guest for Liverpool, amongst others during the war. His move to management started at Carlisle in April 1949 where he stayed for just over two seasons. He joined Grimsby for the 1951-52 season and stayed two and a half seasons before resigning and having a similar length spell at Workington. He left Workington for Huddersfield in 1955 and became their manager in 1956. He stayed there until December 1959 when he resigned to join Liverpool. And then the revolution started.

    It was a major job for Bill to take the club from where it was to somewhere near the top. Liverpool were languishing in the second division at the time and there they remained until he guided the team to the championship in 1961-62. His first season in the top division saw the reds finish 8th but the following season he took the reds to the top of the division, a place they would become accustomed over the next three decades.

    Shankly also took the club to many an exciting night in Europe, although he was often reluctant to trust the European game. In 1964-65, Liverpool first ever venture to Europe, Shankly hit upon of using his psychological methods on the opposition. Liverpool faced Anderlecht in the second round and Shanks decided that Ron Yeats would look even bigger if he wore red shorts to match the red top. Ian St.John also picked up on this though saying that red socks would make him bigger and frighten the opposition. The all-red Liverpool kit was born. The ploy worked and Liverpool marched on. They were to meet Inter Milan the same year in the semi-final of the trophy and this was when Shankly first became really wary of Europe. In the home leg Shanks used his psychological powers again by parading the FA Cup prior to the game then sent Inter out first for the kop to scare them, then came out the Reds. Liverpool won the game 3-1 to take a two-goal lead to Italy. Inter won the return leg 3-0 following some dubious decisions in the San Siro. The first goal was an indirect free kick that was kicked directly in and the second saw an italian kick the ball out of Lawrence’s hands. Over time though Shanks used the defeat to his advantage by convincing the players of how they had improved.

    Shankly eventually won in Europe in 1973 when he lifted the UEFA cup. However it was the end of the following season when he shook football by resigning. He had however built Liverpool up by this time and Bob Paisley would step in to build us higher. None of this could have happened though without the great man.

    Shankly was awarded an OBE but should have received more recognition for his services to the game. The great mans comments on receiving the OBE said ‘it was for the people of Liverpool and Liverpool FC’.

    The Honours - 1 Div 2 championship, 3 championships, 2 FA Cup wins, 1 UEFA cup win and 1 manager of the year.