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Well RED: You Never Call Tails

At last…a nice, meaty chapter to discuss! We get to take a peek into the Shanks’ early days at the club including the fabled 5-a-sides and the revamping of the training ground at Melwood. But first, a note on winning.

"[Shankly stood] Calling and demanding. Receiving and passing. Until his team had beaten each of the other seven teams, beaten every one of them into the ground. And Bill Shankly stood[…]victorious."

The psychology of winners/achievers is well-documented with those of the Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant School of the Potentially Sociopathic being the most famous and glorified. I am not necessarily a subscriber to that type of ethic; the idea that one can only achieve greatness by berating others around them and throwing most ideas of compassion, empathy and general humanity out of the window both seems misguided and, at best, narrow (all this coming from one of the biggest Kobe Bryant fans around).

That being said, it is absolutely crucial to have a persistence and intensity to achieve great things. Also, it means taking a singular stand and willing to appear obstinate because you are confident that you are right. Paradox.

This chapter does well to highlight how much Shankly loves to win (taking part in the 5-a-sides himself and working until his team came out on top) but also balances that with anecdotes that underscore the role of teacher that great founders must have: the ability to find lessons in defeat (without acquiescing to the disappointment), the desire to mold great human beings and the acknowledgement of leading by example.

The more I worked through this chapter (and, despite its length, its proven to be the quickest read yet), I felt this growing excitement as this fuzzy image of a great man was being filled in by very clear and detailed stories.

As it stands, Liverpool seem to be on their way and Shanks is indeed finding his depth; soon, the second division will be too shallow to contain this man.

Talking points:

- Quick survey: how many of you wished YOU could earn a trip to Melwood as easily as that young chap sweeping up while Shanks was walking past? That was pretty awesome.

- Keeping with that vein, I absolutely loved Shanks’ monologue to Horace Yates about opening the doors to all local youth and giving them a fair shot at footballing success. Now, I know that there are very complicated issues at play here that haven’t been discussed (education and life after football being the biggest ones for me), but it’s something that I found very inspiring. Much like La Masia (which is inspiring in its own right), I’m hopeful that we can institute that kind of world class academy that Shanks had envisioned while globalizing the local brand of football. You know…kind of like training a scouse apostolate to spread the LFC gospel.

- Not really part of the book, but I needed to share that one of the great delights for me lately has been attending Sunday Mass and watching this Kenny Dalglish look-a-like just absolutely KILL IT while singing in the choir. That he apparently takes as much joy in singing these hymns as the King did while scoring goals makes it even better. Seriously, I just want him to charge around with his hands in the air after he hits one of the harmonies…and I swear he’s on the verge of doing that every time. Any good look-a-like stories out there?

- Bonus: Shanks is basically the Scottish Eric Taylor. Discuss. /suppresses fanboy squeal.


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