Centurion: Bill Shankly Never Forgotten

31 Aug

ABOVE all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say ‘We are Liverpool’.

William “Bill” Shankly, OBE (born 2 September 1913) was a Scottish footballer and manager who is best remembered for his 15-year management of Liverpool from 1959 to 1974.

Despite being most famous for his 15-year managerial career at Liverpool, Shankly had also managed Carlisle United (1949-1951), Grimbsy Town (1951-1954), Workington (1954-1955), Huddersfield Town (1956-1959).

Shankly was always noted for his dedication to football and, in his playing days, would do his own training during the summer months. The Liverpool website records that, during the summer of 1933 when he returned to Glenbuck after completing his first season as a professional, he decided to develop his throw-in skills. He was an early exponent of the long throw-in and, according to the site, “practiced by throwing the ball over a row of houses (while) the small boys of the village helped by fetching them back for him”. | Shankly.com on Bill’s stint as a player at Carlisle United


Shankly and the Fans

In April 1973, when Shankly and the team were showing off the League Championship trophy to the fans on the Kop, he saw a policeman fling aside a Liverpool scarf which had been thrown in his direction. Shankly retrieved the scarf and wore it. He said to the policeman: “Don’t you do that. That’s precious”. He saw the offer of the scarf as a mark of respect, which deserved his respect in return.

Shankly emphasized the importance of communication with the supporters. At Carlisle he used to speak to them over the public address system before matches. Rather than just putting a few lines in the match programme, he preferred to speak and explain his team changes and his views about the previous match.

At Workington, he would answer supporters’ letters in person, using an old typewriter. But he said he preferred to phone business people as he would put as little as possible in writing when dealing with them. He would readily obtain match tickets for fans he considered to be deserving cases and wrote in his autobiography that he “would give people anything within reason”.

Shankly formed a special bond with the Liverpool supporters and, at the end of the 1961–62 season when Liverpool won the Second Division championship, he told the Liverpool Echo: “In all sincerity, I can say that they are the greatest crowd of supporters in the game”.

Journalist Brian Reade on Shankly

Perhaps Reade provides the best summary of this Liverpool icon’s greatness:

“…Not because he won more than any other manager. He didn’t. His haul of three league titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup puts him behind Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley and Sir Alex Ferguson.


Although he built two magnificent sides from scratch and only “a travesty of justice” (a referee later exposed as bent) stopped him from being the first British manager to reach a European Cup Final.


Not because he arrived at an ­unambitious Second Division club and built a modern dynasty that would dominate European football for almost a decade.


Not because of his ­extraordinary wit and charisma which rubbed off on his players, his fans, his adopted city and all who met him.


But because of what was inside him. The love, dedication and honesty he gave to the game, and its people, all his life, while asking for so little in return.


The passion and ­optimism he gave to tens of thousands of ordinary folk that lit up their ordinary lives. And never left them. Shankly’s politics were of the old school of Christian socialism, honed in the Ayrshire pit community he grew up in.


It defined how he treated everyone: as his equal and with respect. How he built his football teams by making the most important people at every club, the fans, central to his vision…”

NEVER FORGOTTEN: Mosaic at Anfield, planned as a tribute to Bill Shankly on 01 September 2013 during the 2013/2014 season's third game against visiting rivals Manchester United.

NEVER FORGOTTEN: Mosaic at Anfield, planned as a tribute to Bill Shankly on 01 September 2013 during the 2013/2014 season’s third game against visiting rivals Manchester United. The legendary Scot would have been 100 on Monday (02 September 2013).


Bill Shankly passed away on 29 September 1981 aged 68.


References: http://www.shankly.com/article/2396  | http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/brian-reade-bill-shankly-not-2239293  | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Shankly  | http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/bill-shankly-legend-legacy-liverpool-3435214

Images used with appreciation

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