It’s an undeniable passion that Bill Shankly had for the game of football. In fact, he would probably scoff at the fact that we have just referred to football as a game. Shankly’s love for the sport ran so deep he is known for having just three great passions.
His footballing career, his darling wife Nessie and their family.
First came love, then came marriage
The pair met during Bill’s time stationed as a Corporal at RAF barracks just outside Glasgow where Nessie was working in the WRAF. They were married in 1944 and had their first child, Barbara, shortly after in 1945.
It is rumoured that despite his new-found love for Agnes, Bill couldn’t let go of his passion for football and rumour once had it that Bill took Nessie to see a Rochdale game on their anniversary, something that was however quickly discredited by Shanks himself who barked;
“Of course I didn’t take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present. It was her birthday. Would I have got married in the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves.”
Nessie’s unquestioning attendance of a match for a birthday present set the pace for a future life of supporting her husband’s insatiable appetite for football.
There’s even word that Bill took Nessie to a Tranmere match as a birthday present also, this rumour was quickly quashed by Nessie who corrected “it was Accrington Stanley but it wasn’t a birthday present”.
The life of the first WAG
Nessie was a player’s wife before she became the second lady of Liverpool football.
During the early years of her marriage, she married a star player whom 5 years later became manager at Carlisle United.
From here Bill went on to manage Huddersfield in 1956, then came made the final move in his career to Liverpool in 1959.
Through all that Nessie was behind Bill, never complaining and resiliently supporting her husband’s unrelenting passion for football.
Whilst Bill would be out giving his all to LFC, Nessie would be at home helping raise the grandchildren. Having already brought up 2 daughters Barbara and Jeanette Nessie would also devote her time to entertaining and feeding fans of Shankly and the grounds staff of LFC.
Behind every great man, there is a great woman
After all the support Nessie gave Bill over the years, through thick and thin the couple remained a beacon of true love.
It wasn’t until 1974, 30 years after they married, that Bill decided to relinquish his greatest passion in life in favour of spending quality time wife his wife and family.
In his own words during his retirement announcement;
“I’ve been so wedded to Liverpool that I’ve taken Nessie out only twice in 40 years. It’s time she saw more of my old ugly mug”
So, in time Nessie’s utter devotion to the great man paid off. He had come to realise that even though his love for Liverpool football was strong he had a family and a wife who were missing his attentions.
After half a century of living and breathing the game, Bill Shankly relinquished his strong ties to Liverpool football and began devoting more time to his family. After all;
“There’s nobody closer to you than your own kith and kin; your own blood. I’ve got my wife, my daughters, grandchildren, and my sons in law. They’re the closest to me and I would die for them.”
Love of the People
Bill Shankly was and still, is adored by the people of Liverpool.
His dedication to the city earned him the title of honorary Scouser. Without the unyielding love and support of Nessie, his achievements would not have been possible.
Today Bill and Nessie are remembered as the couple who made people happy.
After years of tracking his successful career across the country, Nessie and the Shankly family had set up home in Liverpool. Laying down routes that would help them leave the loving legacy that they both created.
Even with the tragic passing of her one true love, Nessie was comforted in the fact that the people of Liverpool would remember Bill Shankly with such fondness and hold him in loving memory.
What the love of Bill and Ness inspired
Today at the Shankly Hotel our guests can come and learn all about the happiness Bill and Ness shared, as well love they passed onto their children and grandchildren.
The Shankly Hotel was built upon the strong family values that were made by Bill and Nessie and during their own relationship. The commitment they had to each other’s happiness filtered down into the family we all know today.
Love is always in the air at the Shankly Hotel
Love continues to be a huge part of what goes on at the Shankly Hotel, as we celebrate many happy couple’s special occasions.
Guests at the Shankly Hotel have proposed, others have said yes. Some have celebrated anniversaries of happy marriages and others have started their journey into married life in our stunning Liverpool wedding venue Eden.
Even our own Shankly Hotel Director and grandson of Bill and Nessie; Chris Carline, popped the big question to Lisa, now his intended on the Eden rooftop garden where so many happy dreams have come true.
So on Valentine’s day this year and for the rest of the year ahead, make a visit to the Shankly Hotel to celebrate some fabulous love stories from the past. Or perhaps make some lasting memories of your own.
Call 0151 601 8801 or check out our latest Valentine’s day offers here.