Bill Shankly was a true hero of Merseyside. Not only for his raging success in turning Liverpool football Club into the undeniable force it is today, but for his demeanour and connection with the people of the city he came to call home.
If he wasn’t driving down the street with Nessie’s knickers stuck to his car roof, he was touching the lives of many, many people in Liverpool
To help celebrate The Shankly Hotel’s second birthday, we invited our Facebook followers to share some of their stories of the great man himself, offering an endearing insight into how Liverpool’s greatest football manager was a down to earth and well-loved man.
“Sometimes you have to lose to know how to win”
“When I was 11 my Dad used to run the local Boxing club when I had my first fight I was so excited partly because it was my first fight but mainly because Bill Shankly was giving the trophies out.
Well, I got beat and instead of picking up my runners up trophy I ran out of the ring and into the changing room. I was really upset because in my eyes I had let my Dad down and I had done it in front of the great man. My Dad was trying to console me saying it would be ok.i wasn’t having any of it. Then in came Shanks which reduced me to a blubbering jelly.
You forgot this and gave me the runners up trophy. He put his hand on my shoulder and said: ‘Don’t worry son sometimes you have to lose to know how to win.’
With that he went out to watch the next bout. There was me with a smile as wide as the Mersey I’ve never ever forgot that day and told the story many times over the years. The word legend is used too often these days but in my eyes, there couldn’t be a more appropriate word to describe Shanks”
The Letter to a Fellow Footballer
“This is the letter Bill Shankly sent to Jeff Twentyman the father of my friend Will Twentyman congratulating him on his move to Liverpool and his step up from the third division to the first which is now the premier league and top tier of English football.
This letter which also features in his book the secret diary of a Liverpool scout all about the scouting work Jeff did as he continued to be a great servant to the club for many years after he finished playing for them.
The reason the story is also amusing is because the reason behind the move was a floodlight fire causing part of the ground at the club he was at before was the reason he was sold as the most valuable player at the club at that time to raise funds!”
Mobbed at a Charity Football Match
“In the early 1970’s, when I was about ten, the local football team Poulton Victoria had a football pitch at the back of our house in Wallasey and they hosted a charity match with some big celebrities such as Rod Stewart and Jimmy Hill and it was even filmed by the BBC!
Towards the end of the game Bill Shankly turned up and was absolutely mobbed by fans, I was so overwhelmed I touched his coat and he looked down at me and smiled.
I can still feel that coat, it was a brown raincoat and the memory is as fresh as yesterday over 40 years later.”
Bill Shankly’s Toilet
“We used to play football on Barnfield Playing fields now known as the Shankly playing fields when I was about 10. We had our jackets as posts and he lived opposite and used to come across and ref.
One day I needed the loo and was about to leave early but instead, he took me home to his to use his toilet so I didn’t miss the footy. Couldn’t believe I was sat on his loo. He also told me that if I wanted to play for Liverpool I should play for a team instead of watching them.
I did just that on his say so. Never played for Liverpool but love playing and love Mr Shankly as we used to call him. An absolute legend who always looked out for us kids.”
Always the Life of the Party
“It was either the 1971 or 1973 FA Cup Final when I would have been 10 or 12 years old. We were having a street party for the cup final in Handel Street (which was off Lodge Lane but sadly no longer there).
The road was partially blocked off due to the party and a car came down the street, stopped and out got Bill Shankly. He was made up we were having a street party for Liverpool. He stayed for a while and chatted to all the adults and children. I said “Hello Mr Shankly” and he shook my hand.
I couldn’t believe how friendly and down to earth he was and the memory will last forever.”
The Man Who Could Walk on Water
“When my husband and I were walking down Muirhead Avenue one afternoon Bill was waiting in his car for his wife Nessie to come out of the hairdressers.
My hubby asked him if it was true that he could walk on water. Bill looked him straight in the eye and said ‘Aye laddie aye.’”
One thing is for sure, the people of Liverpool loved Bill Shankly and Bill Shankly loved Liverpool. Although he was raised in Scotland, the people and the city of Liverpool will always have space in their heart for the man that changed football forever.