HISTORY: Why the spirit of the Boot Room lives

6 Sep

HISTORY: Why the Spirit of the Boot Room Lives

“…not clever enough” | Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish on why he wouldn’t enter the original Boot Room as a player

…But going back to the Boot Room, it’s amazing how so much intrigue and mystique surrounds what was basically an old broom cupboard. To look at, it was nothing special. It measured about eight feet square and there was nothing remarkable about it apart from the people who used it.

Inside, there was a table and a cupboard, some old photographs on the wall, a rack where the boots would hang and a few crates to sit on. That was it! The likes of myself, Joe, Ronnie and Roy would be in there every day as part of our daily routine. It was our office, so to speak, and the place where we’d meet to discuss every aspect of life at the club.

The boss of the time would very rarely come in, they had their own proper office, but after a match the visiting manager and his assistant would often be invited in for a drink. From the conversations that went on in there we’d glean all manner of useful information that invariably helped the team in its quest for success.

Word spread about the Boot Room. Suddenly there was this aura about it and people still talk about it today. To be honest, at the time, we never gave it a second thought. It was just a place where we went about our business and did our work. But looking back it was a special time to be part of the club and for that I am eternally grateful to the late Tom Saunders…

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Story first appeared in the official Liverpool FC site on 24 November 2005 

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How Bill Shankly changed Anfield

6 Sep


“We were strong on psychology – we even had a plaque that was put over the tunnel that takes the players from the dressing rooms to the pitch,” said Shankly.

“Our maintenance foreman, Bert Johnson, had it painted, with letters on a red background: This is Anfield. It was a form of intimidation.”

When Shankly arrived at Anfield in December 1959, he found the stadium in pretty much the same state as the club’s training ground, Melwood – it was falling to pieces.

The place was an eyesore and when Shankly asked the groundsman about his watering equipment, the reply came: “We don’t have equipment, because there is no water.”

So one of the first things the Scot put in place was to shell out the £3,000 that would install adequate watering facilities, but he knew the ground was neither big enough nor good enough for the public of Liverpool.

Stephen Done, Liverpool FC’s museum curator, explained: “Anfield was in a very bad way. Shankly even called the place a pigsty and he was quite clear: he thought the place was shocking. So he immediately started the first proper rebuilding process since 1906.

“Post 1906, a roof had been put on the Kop in 1927, but that was it. Nothing else had happened apart from the floodlights being put in place in 1957.

“The designs that were set in place in 1906 basically laid the foundations for the Kop and the new stadium. So you can imagine it was probably looking a bit dated and decrepit.”

The Kemlyn Road stand, which is now called the Centenary Stand, was demolished after Shankly’s side won promotion to the top flight at the end of the 1961-62 season…


“Shankly didn’t touch the Kop,” said Done. “He knew it was excellent for its purpose. So otherwise, what Shankly set in place served Liverpool up until Lord Justice Taylor’s report in 1994.

“He was the instigator of all that work – he demanded that it was done. You can imagine the boardroom battles Shankly undertook to get them to try and spend that money…| How Bill Shankly changed Anfield

Story first appeared in the official Liverpool FC site on 06 September 2013

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How Bill Shankly changed the Fans

5 Sep


…Shankly arrives and he can spot quite early on that there is this amazing, potentially highly-vocal and animated bunch of people, who all pile into Anfield every other week without fail to support the side.

“The numbers didn’t drop during the wilderness years. The people still came. They were loyal, but they needed something to give them a lift. And I think it says everything that he understood that once you have the fans on side, everything else will follow.

“Shankly knew that if the fans loved him and the team, they would support them throughout. But while anyone can do the standing on the side of the pitch and blow the kisses to the crowd while holding the badge, Shankly was genuine.”

In the years that followed Shankly’s retirement in 1974, that genuineness soon became apparent as letters penned by the great man to fans slowly began to surface.

“These were letters that would never go on the internet, that weren’t going to be read by anybody else, but were just going to sit in someone’s wallet for the whole of their lives and be treasured – that’s genuine,” said Stephen. “And his letters are astounding…” | How Bill Shankly changed the Fans

Story first appeared in the official Liverpool FC site on 05 September 2013

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How Bill Shankly Changed the Team

4 Sep

Liverpool FCs first ever FA Cup triumph in 1965. Source:

…The Scot knew exactly the type of player who would help reignite Liverpool. And his first port of call was Denis Law, who he knew inside out from their time at Huddersfield.

Law, who went on to become a Manchester United legend, might have helped kick-start the Anfield dynasty had the board not turned down Shankly’s request to try and sign him. As it was, in March 1960, Law signed for Manchester City for a British record fee of £65,000.

Shankly turned his focus to Jack Charlton, Bobby’s brother, but was unable to prise the centre-half away from relegation-threatened Leeds…


…Two years later, in 1964, they were league champions.

This was a time when the great Tottenham team of the early 1960s was in full swing and Manchester United, with the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Law, were the team of individuals, who enthralled the nation.

But they couldn’t match the ethic Shankly instilled in his side; that of all of one and one for all.

His was a hard team to beat and they played good, quick football. They had talented players, but they were so subsumed to the identity of Shankly that they were more of a collective unit.

In 1965, they won the FA Cup for the first time in Liverpool’s history. In the very same year, they could have very easily have been the first British team to win the European Cup, but for a second leg from hell against Italian giants Inter Milan in the semi-finals…| How Bill Shankly Changed the Team

Story first appeared in the official Liverpool FC site on 04 September 2013

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How Bill Shankly Changed Training

4 Sep
L-R: Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly

L-R: Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly. Source:

…from the day Shankly arrived at Liverpool, training at Melwood was planned scrupulously -– and endless road-running was not on the agenda.

Every last act was considered and everything was mapped out on intricate, tabulated sheets, which would be circulated around his members of staff.

“Everything we do here is for a purpose,” Shankly would warn his players. “It has been tried and tested and it is so simple that anybody can understand it. But if you think it is so simple that it is not worth doing, then you are wrong. The simple things are the ones that count.”

Slowly but surely, Shankly made sure his methods and messages permeated the club and the squad…| How Bill Shankly Changed Training

Story first appeared in the official Liverpool FC site on 03 September 2013

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How Bill Shankly Changed Melwood

2 Sep


…Back in the reception, the European Cup stands proudly, enshrined in a gleaming glass box, with a quote from Rafael Benitez stencilled underneath. It reads: “To me, being part of Europe’s elite is central to this club’s ethos.”

But when Bill Shankly arrived at a dilapidated Melwood training ground in late 1959, Liverpool hadn’t the faintest concept of what it meant to play in Europe – never mind expect a place at its top table as some form of birthright.

“It was a sorry wilderness,” wrote Shankly in his autobiography ‘My Story’.

“One pitch looked as if a couple of bombs had been dropped on it. ‘The Germans were over here, were they?’ I asked…| How Bill Shankly changed Melwood



Story first appeared in the official Liverpool FC site on 02 September 2013

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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”. | 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.


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Images used with appreciation

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