Dirk Kuyt Craig Bellamy Ryan Babel Fabio Aurelio
Alberto Aquilani Charlie Adam Maxi Rodriguez
Nathan Eccleston David Amoo Stephen Darby
Fernando Torres Raul Meireles David Ngog
Paul Konchesky Christian Poulsen Emiliano Insua Philipp Degen
Thomas Ince Milan Jovanovic Sotirios Kyrgiakos
Javier Mascherano Yossi Benayoun Andriy Voronin Andrea Dossena
Charles Itandje Damien Plessis Lauri Dalla Valle
Nicolas Anelka Gary McAllister Christian Ziege Nick Barmby
Stephen Wright Jari Litmanen Pegguy Arphexad Bernard Diomede
Vegard Heggem Markus Babbel Emile Heskey Abel Xavier
Vladimir Smicer Mauricio Pellegrino El-Hadji Diouf Alou Diarra
Igor Biscan Gregory Vignal Richie Partridge Paul Harrison
Jon Otsemobor Mark Smyth Antonio Nunez Milan Baros
John Welsh Josemi Fernando Morientes Zak Whitbread
Bruno Cheyrou Neil Mellor Robbie Fowler Jerzy Dudek
Daniele Padelli Craig Bellamy Mark Gonzalez
Chris Kirkland Paul Jones Gabriel Paletta Darren Potter
David Raven Djibril Cisse Bolo Zenden Stephen Warnock
Jan Kromkamp Momo Sissoko John Arne Riise Harry Kewell
Anthony Le Tallec Peter Crouch Danny Guthrie Robbie Keane
Steve Finnan      

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Bill Shankly OBE Manager (1959-74)

Date of Birth: 2.9.13

Birthplace: Glenbuck, Ayrshire

Honours: 3 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS 1963-64, 1965-66, 1972-73
2 FA CUPS 1964-65, 1973-74
1 UEFA CUP 1972-73
3 CHARITY SHIELDS 1964 (shared), 1965 (shared), 1966
RUNNERS UP League Championship - 1968-69, 1973-74 FA Cup- 1970-71 European Cup Winners Cup - 1965-66 Charity Shield - 1971


It's a sobering thought. That a man of such humble origins can become a personality of such overpowering influence in the minds of millions of others. Such power, in misguided hands, can lead to unpalatable scenarios, and the twentieth century has witnessed such tragedy far too often. We must be thankful that Bill Shankly possessed neither the political nous, nor the latent evil of a Hitler or a Stalin.
Born into a family of ten in the Ayrshire mining village of Glenbuck, where conditions were harsh, Shankly was however certainly subjected to the workings of grass roots politics. Keir Hardie, one of the founding members of the Labour party, was chipped from the same Ayrshire coal seams, but for Bill, whilst never losing sight of his humanitarian socialism, football not politics was to be the life's devotion.

Like 49 of his fellow villagers straddling the latter part of the 19th and the early years of the 20th century, Shankly became a professional footballer. Football in Glenbuck was the elixir of life, a blessed relief from the toil of the mineshaft. In 1932 he signed forms with Carlisle United and, within a year, had moved onwards and upwards to Deepdale, home of Preston North End. A distinguished playing career at wing-half that brought 7 caps for Scotland was cruelly interrupted by war in 1939. When the 1946-47 season kick-started organised professional football again in England, Shankly was 33 and rapidly coming to the end of his playing days. He decided quite simply that he would become the greatest football manager of all time.

However, by the time the chairman of Liverpool, T.V. Williams appointed Shankly manager of the club in December 1959, Bill had been a manager for over a decade with precious little in the way of success. He had started his managerial career at the club which had given him his chance in professional football 17 years earlier, Carlisle United. A roller coaster trip of northern clubs took him to subsequent spells at the helms of Grimsby, Workington and finally Huddersfield, where he granted a debut to an upcoming 16 year old called Dennis Law. Disappointingly, Shankly appeared prone to falling foul of the boardroom at each of these clubs as he never felt they gave the same commitment to team affairs as he did. He had walked out on Carlisle, and Grimsby citing a lack of financial commitment on the part of the directors and often felt exasperated by people who simply didn't share his passion for the game. It was Shankly's own commitment and enthusiasm that had first intrigued T.V. Williams years earlier when Bill had been interviewed for the vacant Liverpool job in 1951. Back then, it was felt he wasn't a big enough name for the club, and somewhat lacking in experience, but this time Williams knew instinctively that Shankly and Liverpool were right for each other.

It's hard to understate the ordinariness of Liverpool's position in 1959. Languishing in the old second division, with a crumbling stadium, poor training facilities and a large unwieldy playing staff, the challenge facing Shankly was enormous. He dispensed with the services of 24 members of the playing staff. Liverpool's, and his, good fortune, was that in Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, and Reuben Bennett, the club had an experienced and resourceful backroom staff. He wasn't about to dispense with them. The addition of Shankly was the catalyst they needed to grow and blossom into their natural roles at the club. Slowly at first, and then with a gathering pace, Shankly and his backroom team turned Liverpool around. The legendary 'Boot-Room' was born. The Anfield crowd sensed the change. Gates regularly topped 40,000 and promotion was quickly gained back to the first division. Shankly had rebuilt the club around two key players he brought in, both Scotsmen - Ron Yeats and Ian St John. The Reds romped away with the Second Division title in 1961-62, finishing 8 points clear of their nearest rivals and amassing a stunning - in days of two points for a win - 62 points and scoring 99 goals in the process.

The supremacy of Everton in the city of Liverpool was the first target for Shankly now that he had got the club back into the top flight and in season 63-64, Everton handed over the league championship trophy to their neighbours as Liverpool clinched their 6th title. Battle was joined, and between them, Liverpool and Everton did as much the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers to put Liverpool on the world map in those fab years of the mid 1960s.

The training ground at Melwood, in a terrible state in 1959, was transformed into a top class training facility. Shankly introduced the five-a-side games that so defined his football thinking. Pass and move, keep it simple, a creed taken from the daily matches played by the miners of Glenbuck all those years ago. He introduced a new routine whereby the players would meet and change for training at Anfield and then board the team bus for the short trip to Melwood. After training, they would all bus back to Anfield together to shower and change and perhaps get a bite to eat. This way Shankly ensured all his players had warmed down correctly and he would keep his players free from injury. Indeed, in the 1965-66 season, Liverpool finished as champions using just 14 players and two of those only played a handful of games.

The first F.A. Cup win in 1965 was followed by magical European exploits across the continent as Liverpool established a passing style that became the envy of the watching football world. Amidst all this, stood Shankly, orchestrating events at Anfield, at one with the fans. He was perfectly in tune with the Kopites, knowing and understanding how they felt about football and the pride a successful team gave them. And always, he would remain in touch with his working class roots. His would tell anyone who cared to listen that his lads played to a socialist ethic. If a player was having a poor game Shankly would expect a team mate to cover for him and bail him out like you would do for a neighbour or a colleague down the mine. All for the greater good of the team. The fans on the Kop understood the simple philosophy.

The decline of the great 60s team saw the birth of Shankly's second great Liverpool side. Out went Hunt, St.John, Yeats and Lawrence, and in came Keegan, Heighway, Lloyd and Clemence. Success followed success. A first European trophy in 1973 ( the UEFA cup ) was won in tandem with the club's 8th league title. In 1974, the F.A. Cup came back to Anfield after a breathtaking Wembley performance against a hapless Newcastle United. Then came the shock resignation, on a July day in that summer of '74. Shankly was 60, and wanted to spend time with his wife Ness and their family. That he left the club in such capable hands speaks volumes for the man. The bootroom staff, now joined by ex-players Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans, got behind new manager Bob Paisley and the club went on to even greater glories in the years that followed.

There is no doubt that Paisley's era as manager was more fruitful than Shankly's in terms of trophies won. Also, it seems fair to speculate that much of what Shankly achieved would not have been possible without Bob Paisley's calm influence and knowledge of the game. But it is equally likely that without the driving force and sheer charisma of Shankly, Liverpool's spell in the doldrums in the 1950s would have reached long into the 60s and perhaps even further and Bob Paisley may never have become manager at all. That the club contrived to bring them together at all in those dark post war days, the fans will be forever grateful.

The city of Liverpool was shocked when Bill Shankly died unexpectedly in September 1981 after suffering a heart attack. His good friend Sir Matt Busby was so upset when he heard the news that he couldn't even answer the telephone that morning. In the years following his resignation, to the disbelief of the fans, relations between him and the club he so loved had become somewhat strained. There was no such problem on the terraces. In the first game at Anfield following his funeral, a huge banner was unfurled on the Kop which read 'Shankly Lives Forever'. Perhaps the differences between Keir Hardie and Bill Shankly were only slight after all. Both had achieved immortality through their brand of socialism. One through the ballot box, the other through the turnstile.

His spirit lives on at Anfield to this day, where a statue to the great man stands before his beloved Kop and the Shankly Gates bear the immortal words "You'll never walk alone". Certainly Shankly never walked alone and he is revered by all Liverpool supporters to this day.

This was no better demonstrated than on 18th December 1999 when the 40th anniversary of Shankly's arrival at Anfield was celebrated in a manner that took the breath away. Nearly the whole of the 1965 and 1974 F A Cup winning teams reassembled to view the exhibition commemorating Shankly and then paraded onto the pitch, where they stood in silence as two bagpipers played "Amazing Grace".

12,000 voices on the Kop gently sang the word 'Shankly' to the tune as they held up a mosaic bearing his face and the Saltire. The version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" that followed rivaled any previously heard before. His spirit and his legend is clearly set to live on well into the new Millennium.

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