In my last blog regarding Grandy’s resignation and the reasons behind it; I intimated I’d shed some light on THOSE Bill Shankly rumours.
Those rumours I refer to are in relation to one of the most asked questions we get, “Did Shanks end up an Evertonian?”
A direct follow on from the question as to whether Liverpool treated him poorly after he left.
The truth is that the answer to both could be either yes or no. As with everything in life; it isn’t black or white, there are shades of grey.
If I can take the latter question first.
When Grandy left the club; he struggled to adapt to life without football. It had been all he knew, from a young age, from morning until night. To go from that extreme to the other is hard for anyone. As a result, he would often travel to Melwood to indulge in the facilities, to keep fit and to stay around the thing that he loved most; football.
Having spent 15 years at the club, and having personally bought and/or nurtured many of the players at the club, many of them; when coming into contact with his person would still call him ‘boss’ and in truth, the club felt like this would potentially undermine Bob Paisley’s authority.
His job was already on paper, hard enough; having taken over from the godfather of the club; it’s most successful manager and a man revered by football fans all over the world. The club therefore took the hard task of advising him of this.
Manchester Utd have just gone through it with Ferguson stepping down and Moyes taking over.
Moyes failed where Bob was a success. Ferguson was however; offered a directorship at the club, giving him impetus there, whereas Grandy never was.
In truth, it was this that rankled with him. He could live with not being around the training ground, what hurt, and he says as much in his autobiography; was not even being approached about being a director.
Whatever way you look at it; and you can be the most mentally strong, composed individual in the world, hearing these words and sentiments from a club, organisation or person who you have given everything to, and taken to the pinnacle of success; is always going to hurt.
It’s like being dumped by your first love!
In typically true fashion however, he took it on the chin and very, very rarely spoke about it, electing only to really go on record with his feelings in the late seventies when he published his autobiography.
It was through this vehicle that he used the phrase; ‘Over the last few seasons I have been received more warmly by Everton than I have been Liverpool.”
So did he end up an Evertonian?
It is true to say that he did end up with a soft spot for the blue side of the City, and it is absolutely true that he spent a lot of time at both Bellefield and Goodison.
Bellefield was a two minute walk from his home and he would often take the dog for a walk (Scamp!), visiting Bellefield as part of his route.
He would enter the training ground and converse with the ground staff, players and management, and was widely welcomed and looked after by all in situ (many Liverpool fans like to think he took the dog there to do its business but alas that wasn’t the case!).
He was also a frequent visitor to Goodison.
In the wealth of memorabilia we have that will be displayed in the museum at the hotel; we found ticket stubs for the directors box there and for other parts of the ground; and the family were also regaled by the story of how when he was there one week; such had been the frequency of his visits; our blue neighbours even began singing his name.
So did he become an Evertonian?
The answer not quite. Liverpool was his life. But did he have a soft spot for them. In truth, as we already know; he was a man of the people.
Everyone loved his personality and his charisma so it was hard not to be fond of him, rival fans included. More so; he loved Liverpool as a city. He had a great fondness for its people. Nanny Ness said of him once, “In Liverpool, with its traditional love for football, Bill found kindred spirits who shared his enthusiasm for the game.”
Grandy saw a successful Everton side as much a catalyst for success for his Liverpool team as any other element, highlighting that the intensity of rivalry and competition brought out the best in both sides.
“When they had a good team which was the equivalent of Liverpool or better, the games were tense.The rivalry is like it is for Celtic and Rangers, but without bigotry. I’ve seen supporters on Merseyside going to the ground together, one wearing red and white, and the other blue and white, which is unusual elsewhere.
You get families in Liverpool, half Everton and half Liverpool. They support rival teams but they have the same temperament and they know each other. They are unique in the sense that their rivalry is no real aggro between them.
This is quite amazing. I am not saying they love each other. Oh no. But I’ve never seen a fight at a derby game. Shouting and bawling, yes. But they don’t fight each other. And that says a lot.”
Everton’s warmth towards him following his resignation from Liverpool only fuelled his warmth for the people of this city and it is on that note that I end this particular blog; with a reflection from Grandy to these sentiments.
“If I had a business and needed a work force, I would take it from Merseyside. And we would wipe the floor with everybody. They’ve got hearts of gold. They’d give you their last penny….and they can work. So I’d pick my workforce from Merseyside and anybody else can pick theirs from anywhere else and we’d have a go with them. And I’d win. They’ve got a big spirit…when they’re on your side and all working together they take a bit of a beating.”
Christopher William Shankly Carline