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Happy Birthday Shankly

2 Sep

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Happy Birthday Shankly


I thought it only fitting that I should write an article about Liverpool’s greatest manager to mark Bill Shankly’s 100th birthday . Bill Shankly was before my time but like any Liverpool fan I have learned about him over the years and even read his one and only autobiography about him quite recently. It’s hard to write an article on this great man as so many better people and writers than me have said it all before. But I just wanted to have my say of what this great man means to me.


I was only 10 years old when the great man passed on and I had just recently started supporting Liverpool but I didn’t know who he was but I had heard of him, and I remember the sad news that day of his passing and the reaction of my father who obviously new a lot more about him. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to experience his time in charge of Liverpool, but I have consulted people who did and they said that it was an amazing time to be a Liverpool supporter.


All the great stories you hear of this great man from former players are legendary like his achievements. The way he has touched every Liverpool supporter even after so many years after his death shows what this man done for this club.


Coming from a small mining village in Ayrshire which is sadly no longer inhabited as I quite recently visited only to find the Shankly memorial standing. I think his mining back ground stood him in good stead for his future career. Football was the only alternative to a life down the pit, and Shankly grabbed it with both hands as he forged a career in football.
I don’t want to bore you with the facts of his career as I’m sure you know all about them, I just want to tell you how he has touched me.


I also live in Ayrshire, and I think that is why I took an added interest in his life. I have learned so much about Shankly over the years by supporting Liverpool and I am absolutely fascinated by the great man. I always try to watch programmes on TV about Shankly or read articles in newspapers about him as I respect the man so much for what he has done for Liverpool. I am currently reading the recently published Red or Dead which is another book about Shankly and a very interesting read too.


His achievements at Liverpool are all the more remarkable considering the state of the club at the time. Shankly called Anfield “the biggest toilet in Liverpool”. Shankly transformed the club totally and even maintained Anfield and Melwood himself as Liverpool’s facilities were so run down. Shankly put everything into his job and he expected his players to do the same.


He had a tremendous rapport with the supporters and told his players that they were lucky to play for them. Shankly would always have time for Liverpool supporters, he would reply to every letter personally and he would give match day tickets away and even play football with them. He loved the supporters and they loved him back.


The way Shankly changed the training methods, the players’ diets and obviously the team was amazing, and how the transformation of the club happened relatively quickly as Liverpool’s results on the park improved. Shankly built a brilliant team as he took Liverpool back into the First Division after languishing in the Second Division.


He kept improving the team, bringing in tremendous players with the likes of St. John and Ron Yeats strengthening the team. After much success in the 1960’s Shankly realised the core of his team was getting too old and with his priority on improving the team he replaced players that had been with him for so long. He brought in the likes of Clemence, Heighway, Hughes, Toshack and Keegan and basically built a new team that would keep the success coming.


Bill Shankly built Liverpool into one of the top football teams in the country and his methods and close knit team of coaches (The Boot Room Boys) would ensure that Liverpool would continue at the top of the English game for years to come after his retirement. Nobody really knows why he really retired but I’m sure he only did so because he knew that Liverpool had a great man in Bob Paisley to reign after him.


Liverpool provided a perfect tribute on the eve of Shankly’s birthday with the Kop displaying a mosaic and a minute’s applause prior to kick-off against Manchester United and Liverpool’s win catapulted them to the top of the League, just where Shankly would want them.

Bill Shankly you will never be forgotten.


He made the people happy.

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