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10 Things You Need to Know About Bill Shankly

Posted on 19.07.2014

When it comes to football managers, you’d be hard pushed to find better than Bill Shankly. However, there are so many things we don’t know about the Scottish footballer and manager, which is why we’ve taken the liberty to provide 10 facts about the man himself.

1. Wullie

While many know William Shankly as “Bill”, his family would refer to him as Willie – which is pronounced “Wullie”.

2. Footballing Family

Speaking of Bill’s family, all five of the Shankly brothers were professional footballers. Alec played for Ayr United; Jimmy played for Sheffield United and Southend United; John played for Portsmouth and then Luton Town, whilst Bob was a player for Alloa Athletic and Falkirk FC.

3. Preston North End

Shankly played at Preston North End for 17 years. However, he nearly never signed to the club, as they only offered him a personal fee of £50, plus a signing-on fee of £10 and just £5 wages per week. His brother, Alec, persuaded him to consider Preston as they were a Second Division Club with the potential to regain First status.

4. The Art of Tackling

In his autobiography, Shankly stated that he “specialised in the art of tackling”, and even went as far to say it was an art-form due to its timing. He was, however, an honest player. Proudly claiming that he was “never sent off the field or had name in a referee’s book”.

5. The Referees

Bill Shankly refused to argue with referees. He had learnt a lot about football from his brothers, and was aware that arguing with referees was a waste of time as the referee “always wins in the end”.


Shankly had recently celebrated his 26th birthday when World War II began, and he joined the Royal Air Force. However, the war claimed his peak years on the pitch, as he served in the RAF for seven years. However, he still managed to squeeze in some time for football, as he played in various wartime league, exhibition and cup matches for Arsenal, Luton Town, Norwich City and Partick Thistle. He even played a single game for Liverpool in a 4-1 win over Everton.

7. RAF Boxer

Shankly was a keen sportsmen, and even fought as a middleweight during his service, winning a trophy when stationed in Manchester.

8. The Rise from Second Division

Bill Shankly changed the face of Liverpool forever. When he became manager in 1959, he fought to take LFC from second division to make them one of the best clubs in the world. Not only did he strip out the team, but he insisted the club improve the Anfield ground from its disrepair, as they had no means of watering the pitch.

9. Psychology

Bill knew that there was more to the game than physical training, and would use psychology to encourage his own players, whilst raising doubts in his opponents’ minds. He once told Kevin Keegan that Bobby Moore was hungover from the night before. As a result, Kevin Keegan had an outstanding performance, only for Bill to tell him that Moore was a brilliant player that day and that he would “never play against anyone better than him”.

10. English Football Hall of Fame

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In 2002, Bill Shankly was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame, which celebrates the achievements of the finest English footballing talents. It therefore recognised the impact he had on the game as a manager.

Have you got a favourite Bill Shankly fact? Share it with us. We’d love to hear it!