In Liverpool, there is plenty of home-grown talent. We’re a city renowned for The Beatles, Cilla Black and Kim Cattrall, however one of the most influential figures in our history wasn’t a Scouser, but a Scotsman whom the city took under their wing. In return, the one and only Bill Shankly changed Liverpool forever, and not just on the pitch. There are so many Shankly Liverpool connections that stretch far and wide.
Frequently credited as the manager who revolutionised Liverpool Football Club, Shankly was a firm favourite with everyone in the city. We’re taking a look back at all the things Liverpool can thank Bill Shankly for.
LFC’s First Victory in the FA Cup
Despite being crowned League champions twice in the 1920s and again in the 1946-47 season, LFC had been in a steady state of decline in the years prior to Shankly’s reign. They were even relegated to the Second Division in the 1953-54 season.
However, Bill Shankly had faith in his players and faith in his team, persevering and working hard to turn them into a ‘bastion of invincibility’. After months of hard work, the change in training and dedication to the players paid off and LFC were finally being recognised for their impressive talent.
In 1962, the team were promoted back to the First Division and in 1964 Bill Shankly led the way to the club’s first FA Cup victory with a spectacular win against Leeds United. The match ended 2-1 in additional time and Shankly cemented his team as a solid force to be reckoned with.
Turning Melwood into a World Class Training Facility
Next up in our Shankly Liverpool connections and something the city and football club can thank the great man for is Melwood. One of the top training facilities in the world, with three full-size synthetic pitches, rehabilitation rooms, a gym, swimming pool and even a restaurant, it is a hugely important hub for LFC.
However, Melwood wasn’t always so state-of-the-art. When Shankly first visited the training facility he was shocked, famously stating it was “a shambles and a sorry wilderness”.
Shankly quickly put in the orders for an upgrade and it wasn’t long before Melwood was made fit for champions. The transformation was a success and, along with Shankly and his team’s great training plans, was an important factor in the future success of the club.
Today, the training ground continues to be the site of LFC’s rigorous training, despite plans to move training to Kirby being announced in 2017. It was redeveloped again in 2001 under the careful eye of then manager Gerard Houllier, but still maintains the Shankly flair.
A New Style of Management
Bill Shankly was a pioneer when it came to football management; he brought a new style to the beautiful game. He always made sure he inspired his players, took time to speak to the fans and incorporated a hands-on approach in training.
Shankly knew how important good football was to the fans and always instilled this in his players. They were encouraged to set high standards for themselves, helping them to realise how privileged they were to be playing for the club.
His impact as a manager at Liverpool did not go unrecognised, with awards, accolades and tributes flowing in following his retirement and his untimely death in 1981. In 1982, his widow, Nessie, ‘unlocked’ the now iconic Shankly Gates at Anfield, he was given an OBE in 1974 and he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his impact as a manager.
Bridging the Divide Between Liverpool and Everton
The story of the Liverpool FC and Everton rivalry dates all the way back to 1892, when LFC was founded by Everton’s former club president John Houlding, following a disagreement about land.
Over the years, the rivalry between the two teams has been fierce but friendly, with reds and blues frequently going head to head, but always having an undertone of respect. Shankly only helped to further this bond with his famous friendship with Dixie Dean, star player and record-breaker at Everton in the 1920s.
Following his retirement as manager in 1974, Shankly struggled with the concept of no longer having football to rule his life and spent a lot of time at Melwood. New manager Bob Paisley felt undermined by Shankly’s empowering presence and the legend soon felt compelled to stay away from the team he loved the most.
He did, however, get regular invites to be a spectator at Goodison Park to watch the blues play top-tier teams from around the world. Chris Shankly, the grandson of the former manager, remarked that Bill developed ‘a soft spot for the blue side of the city’ and the man himself even said that he was welcomed warmly every time he visited Everton’s ground and training site.
The Shankly Playing Fields
Shankly is often revered as one of the friendliest managers football has ever seen. Stopping frequently to chat with fans and always taking the time to acknowledge those that did the same to him.
His home in West Derby was frequently visited by local kids and football fans alike, who hoped to catch a glimpse of one of Liverpool’s biggest legends. Shankly’s house was only a few minutes’ walk from Melwood and sat very close to a community football pitch.
Even during his time as manager, the fields were used by people from the local area for honing their football skills and coming together for friendly competition. It’s reported that Shankly often walked by these fields, stopping to watch or even dabbling in the game himself.
These football pitches were officially named ‘Shankly’s Playing Fields’ in 1990, with Nessie coming along to open the fields to the youngsters of the area.
The Shankly Liverpool
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Bill Shankly was, and still is, a true icon in the eyes of the people of Liverpool. He changed Liverpool Football Club forever and stole the hearts of the city in the process.
Liverpool has plenty to thank Bill Shankly for, not that the city needs telling. We’ll always hold the Scotsman in our hearts as a true Scouser thanks to the incredible work he did on the pitch and the shine he exuded wherever he went.
Today, fans can visit the famous Shankly Hotel, set in the heart of Liverpool. This luxurious hotel is dedicated to the great man and managed by Chris Shankly, Bill’s grandson.
Rooms at The Shankly offer the ultimate blend of contemporary and classic style with fabulous features, including everything from double whirlpool baths, to 50″ TV screens, Bluetooth and free WiFi.
As Liverpool’s unique Bill Shanky-themed venue, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy an abundance of exclusive memorabilia. See Bill Shankly’s original LFC contract, personal typewriter and lots more within our hotel and stunning Bastion Bar & Restaurant.
To book your stay at the Shankly Hotel or enjoy a meal in the beautiful Bastion Bar and Restaurant, get in touch with our friendly team today on 0151 601 8801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer our guests a range of fantastic offers, check them out here.
We look forward to seeing you soon!