There is a lot that has been said and written about Bill Shankly. There are the myths, the deification, the quotes, the interviews, the anecdotes, the trophies, the pictures, and so much more. Looming over all of them is the great man himself. Bill Shankly died not long before I was born and many of us may have grown up after the lifetime of an individual who inspired millions.
We know he's probably Liverpool's most famous manager whose contemporaries included Jock Stein, Don Revie, and Sir Matt Busby. Illustrious names and all were great friends of Bill Shankly. The cult of the manager is indeed a huge part of England's footballing landscape and arose for a reason: great clubs were shaped by great managers. While many legendary managers had a large sense of self-importance, there was generally a sense of service, community, and loyalty that doesn't quite exist today.
Bill Shankly turned a small room stuffed with footballer's boots into a philosophical hive where coaches could discuss all aspects of football. It was known as the Boot Room where a succession of winning managers could claim membership. Bill Shankly. Bob Paisley. Joe Fagan. Kenny Dalglish. From 1959 to 1991, Liverpool had managers who understood what the demands of the job were and the system for success. This unified vision and philosophy stuck with me more than all the trophies, quotes, and anecdotes. A philosophy that could outlive one person and success that was not only expected, but demanded. It intrigued and fascinated me.
Legacy and history have always attracted my attention yet Bill Shankly seemed be more than a mere manager. For me, he shaped a club to such a degree that the two will always be linked. Bill Shankly is Liverpool FC and Liverpool FC is Bill Shankly. Like a snake eating its own tail, clear demarcations are difficult to perceive. Success didn't come immediately for the man who declared "Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool."
Football is an arena where fans are constantly assessed to see whether they "get it" or are genuine enough to be respected. Sure, a genuine love or admiration for the club is necessary to be a supporter but learning the history of a club is part of the journey too. If a fan admits to knowing little about a club's history, there should be no reproach from fellow fans. We are a community and should try to help each other. Maybe we can recommend a book or ask for a good book to read. Liverpool has an international fanbase and I've seen with my own eyes a genuine and burning passion for the club. Whether it is fierce support and donation for tragedies that have affected Liverpool FC and fans or unwavering loyalty in the face of repeated disappointment, people are here to support the club.
Whatever side of the spectrum we fall on, we should remember Bill Shankly's immortal words:
The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It's the way I see football, the way I see life.
So let's come together to share whatever we know about Bill Shankly and stop by to celebrate a Liverpool legend. Maybe we've seen interviews or read bits that stuck with us more than anything else. Most of all, let's take a moment to remember someone who truly contributed to a cause greater than himself: the success and stature of Liverpool Football Club. What else could be better?
Born in Glenbuck, Scotland on 2 September 1913.
Managed Liverpool from 1 December 1959 to 12 July 1974.
Oversaw 783 games. Won 407. Drew 198. Lost 178.
Died in Liverpool, England on 29 September 1981.
Liverpool were promoted to the First Division in 1962 as champions by scoring 99 goals. Liverpool had spent a total of eight seasons in English football's second tier and have never finished lower than eighth since promotion in 1962.
First Division title: 1964, 1966, and 1973.
FA Cup: 1965 and 1974.
Bill Shankly steered Liverpool to a first European trophy of any kind in 1973 with victory in the UEFA Cup to complement a league title in the same year. More European success was to follow that no other English club has matched to date.