The Perfect Valentine’s Day With Bill and Nessie

Another Valentine’s Day in Liverpool and another chance to look back at the three great loves of The Shankly Hotel’s namesake.

It’s an undeniable, unrelenting passion that the Liverpool manager had for the game. Indeed, he probably would’ve sneered at us for referring to football as a game. Shankly’s love for the sport ran so deep, as deep as a Valentine’s Day rose planted in the ground, that he is known for having just three great passions.

His football, his darling wife Nessie and his family.

First came love, then came marriage

The couple met during their time stationed at an RAF barracks just outside Glasgow where Nessie was working in the WRAF. They were married in 1944 and had Barbara, one of two children, in 1945.

It is rumoured that despite his new-found love for Agnes, Shankly couldn’t let go of his passion for football and rumour once had it that he took Nessie to watch a Rochdale game on their anniversary, something that was, however, quickly discredited by Shanks himself who exclaimed:

“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 existence of supporting her husband’s insatiable appetite for the beautiful game.

There is even word that Shankly 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”.

We can only imagine what he got her for Valentine’s Day.

The life of the first WAG

 

Nessie was a player’s wife long before she became the second lady of Liverpool. During the early years of her marriage, she married a superstar whom 5 years later became manager of Carlisle United.

From here, Shankly went on to manage Huddersfield Town in 1956. Then, in 1959, he moved to Liverpool for what would be his swansong. Nessie was behind her husband through think and thin, never complaining and buoyantly supporting his unrelenting passion for football.

While her husband would be out giving everything he had in the dugout, Nessie would be at home helping raise the grandchildren, despite having already brought up two daughters.

Nessie would also devote her time to entertaining and feeding fans of her husband and the hungry groundsmen of Melwood.

Behind every great man, there is a great woman

The couple remained a beacon of true love.

It wasn’t until 1974 – 30 years after they married – that the great man decided to relinquish his hold on Liverpool in favour of spending some quality time with his family.

During his retirement announcement he said:

“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 her husband bore fruit. He had come to realise that, even though his love for Liverpool was strong, his love for his family was even stronger.

He would never miss another birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day because, after everything:

“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

 

Shankly was, and is, adored by the people of Liverpool.

His dedication to the city endeared him to us Scouser’s. That said, without the unyielding love and support of Nessie, his achievements would not have been possible.

After years of tracking his successful career across the county, Nessie and her famous husband would settle in Liverpool; laying down routes that would ultimately help them leave a loving legacy.

Even with the tragic passing of her one true love, Nessie was comforted by the fact that the people of Liverpool would remember Shanks with as much fondness as she would.

Love’s Lasting Legacy

At The Shankly Hotel, our guests can come and learn everything there is to know about Shanks and Ness.

Valentine's Day

The Shankly Hotel is built upon strong family values. The commitment our namesake and his loving Nessie had to one another’s happiness is awe-inspiring to say the least.

Spend Valentine’s Day at The Shankly Hotel

Valentine's Day

Love continues to be a huge part of what goes on at The Shankly Hotel as we have celebrated many happy couples’ special occasion.

So, on Valentine’s Day in Liverpool this year – and, for the rest of the year ahead – come and stay at the now famous Shankly Hotel and make some enduring memories of your own. Also, come and dine with us at the superb Bastion Bar & Restaurant.

Get in touch with our helpful team today on 0151 236 0166 or check out our latest Valentine’s Day deals . And, to keep up to date with everything going on at the hotel, follow The Shankly Hotel Facebook page.

Bill Shankly: A Timeline of Events

Shankly’s life was an interesting one to say the least. From being born in Glenbuck, to living in Liverpool as an honourary Scouser till the end.
Here’s a timeline of important events during Shankly’s 68 year life and beyond!

The early years

02.09.1913 – William Shankly is born in Glenbuck, Scotland.

1931 – He plays football for his local team in Ayrshire, Cronberry Eglinton.

1932 – Shankly moves south where he joins Carlisle United in Third Division North.

July 1933 – After a remarkable season for Carlisle Shankly signs for 2nd division Preston North End. Preston was soon promoted as Shankly’s career flourished.

Young Shankly

09.04.1938 – Shankly was selected to play for his country, Scotland for the first time, playing against England in a 1-0 win at Wembley.

30.04.1938 – Shankly’s highlight as player when Preston wins the FA Cup by beating Huddersfield.

29.06.1944 – Bill marries Agnes “Nessie” Fisher

From player to manager

22.03.1949 – Despite feeling he had more to offer as a player, 35-year-old Shankly took the manager’s job at Carlisle United.

June 1951 – Grimsby’s board felt Shankly was the right man to revive the club that had dropped from Division 1 to regional football in Division 3.

1951 – Liverpool interview Shankly for the vacant manager’s job at Liverpool.

06.01.1954 – Shankly moves down the ranking in Third Division North, but saving Workington from destruction is a commendable challenge.

05.11.1956 – Takes over as manager of Huddersfield after coaching their reserves for 11 months.

01.12.1959 – Liverpool appoint Bill Shankly as Phil Taylor’s successor in the managerial seat.

Shankly arrives at LFC

14.12.1959 – Shankly takes officially over at Liverpool after finishing his occupancy at Huddersfield.

19.12.1959 – Shankly is in control of his first Liverpool game, but it’s a long way from a perfect start as Liverpool lose 0-4 to Cardiff.

21.04.1962 – After seven years in the 2nd division, Liverpool are promoted with five League games remaining!

18.04.1964 – Liverpool win the championship for the sixth time in their history after a 17 year wait with an impressive 5-0 win vs Arsenal at Anfield.

01.05.1965 – Liverpool win the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. Shankly added that it was his finest moment at Liverpool.

12.05.1965 – Liverpool knocked out of the semi-finals in the club’s inaugural season in the European Cup. After a sensational 3-1 win at Anfield in the first leg, Inter beat the Reds 0-3 in Italy after bribing the referee!

30.04.1966 – Liverpool close their second League title under Shankly by beating Chelsea 2-1 at Anfield.

08.05.1971 – Liverpool lose 1-2 to Arsenal in the FA Cup – Shankly delivers the famous Chairman Mao speech.

08.07.1971 – Shankly agrees a new three-year contract with Liverpool which became his last.

23.04.1973 – After 7 years deprived of a title, Liverpool win the championship by beating Leeds 2-0 at Anfield.

23.05.1973 – Liverpool beat Gladbach 3-2 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup final, almost conceding their 3-0 lead from Anfield.

1973 – Bill voted Manager of the year, the only time in his career!

Bill Shankly Memorabilia

04.05.1974 – One of the most one-sided FA Cup finals in history when Liverpool annihilates Newcastle 3-0 at Wembley.

The shock announcement

12.07.1974 – The football world and the whole of Liverpool are stunned when Bill Shankly announces that he is retiring as Liverpool’s manager.

10.08.1974 – Shankly is given the honour of leading Liverpool out at Wembley vs Leeds in the Charity Shield despite retiring in the summer.

12.08.1974 – Bill Shankly legitimately terminates his ‘reign’ as manager of the Reds in Billy McNeill’s testimonial in front of 60,000 people at Celtic Park.

29.04.1975 – Shankly’s testimonial against a Don Revie Select XI – an emotional night at Anfield.

25.05.1977 – Shankly was in attendance when Liverpool won its first ever European Cup in Rome.

The loss of a great man

29.09.1981 – Shankly passes away. Bill suffered a cardiac arrest after battling for life since a heart attack early on Saturday morning. He had been making good progress until his condition deteriorated.

30.09.1981 – Liverpool face Finnish European Cup opponents, Oulu Palloseura, at Anfield. Reds won 7-0 and for the whole of second half the Kop sang Shankly’s name to the tune of Amazing Grace.
A banner in the crowd reads “King Shankly lives”.

03.10.1981 – Bob Paisley and John Toshack lead out their teams at Anfield in the league. Tosh, who was now the manager of Swansea, created quite a stir among the Swansea faithful when he revealed a Liverpool shirt underneath his Swansea tracksuit when Shankly was remembered before the game.

22.11.1981 – “A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Bill Shankly” held at Liverpool Cathedral.

A series of tributes

26.08.1982 – Shankly Gates unlocked by Bill’s widow, Nessie.

27.04.1997 – The Shankly memorial is erected – a fitting tribute in his hometown, Glenbuck.

04.12.1997 – The statue of Shankly in front of the Kop is unveiled.

June 1998 – Preston North’s End ground was replaced by a new stand named the “Bill Shankly Kop”, designed with different coloured seats providing an image of the great man’s head and shoulders.

18.12.1999 – A mosaic on the Kop to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Bill Shankly’s arrival at Anfield.

02.08.2002 – Nessie Shankly passes away, 82 years of age.

2002 – Bill Shankly is introduced to the English Football Hall of Fame due to his impact on the English game as a manager.

08.11.2004 – Bill is introduced to the Scottish Football Association’s Hall of Fame.

01.12.2009 – 50th anniversary since he signed his contract to become manager of Liverpool Football Club.

16.12.2009 – A “SHANKS LEGEND” mosaic was unveiled on the Kop prior to kick off.

17.12.2009 – Shankly is awarded an Honorary Citizenship of Liverpool in recognition of the 50th anniversary of his arrival as manager of Liverpool FC and his dedication to Merseyside.

May 2014 – A Shankly themed hotel and museum is unveiled by Shankly’s family and Signature Living.

What was your favourite Shankly moment?

Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! Credit to www.shankly.com for providing the timeline dates.

40th anniversary of Shankly’s LFC retirement

12th July 1974: The date the Godfather of the Kop, Bill Shankly, announced his retirement.

The Unexpected

Nobody knew what to expect when a sudden press conference was called by John Smith, the club’s chairman at the time.
As the press filtered in with their notepads, cameras, and Dictaphones at the ready, there wasn’t a buzz of excitement. Unlike a usual event of this kind there was instead a dullness in the air.

A pin drop could be heard when Smith stepped up to make his opening statement:

“It is with great regret that I as chairman of Liverpool Football Club have to inform you that Mr Shankly has intimated that he wishes to retire from active participation in league football. And the board has with extreme reluctance accepted his decision. I would like to at this stage to place on record the board’s great appreciation of Shankly’s magnificent achievements over the period of his managership.”

Shankly agreed to a three-year contract with Liverpool Football Club during the signing of his last contract in July 1971. He was then offered the option of having it extended to five years. When the three year mark was met, Smith asked if he would like to continue for two more years. Shankly declined.

Speculations

It was widely speculated as to why he refused to stay those two more years. Even those closest to him like his wife and Bob Paisley had their own theories regarding the subject.

Conclusions were drawn that former England captain Emlyn Hughes once asked Bill why he chose to retire. Shanks said “I’m going to tell you the reason why I left” but his small grandchild came running in, and he got sidetracked. Emlyn never found out.

Without realising it or not, Hughes actually got the truthful answer to his question. Bill became anxious to spend more time with Nessie, his children, and his grandchildren.

In his autobiography, Shankly mentions his decision to retire. He says:

“After the FA Cup Final I went into the dressing room and I felt tired from all the years. I said to a bloke who was looking after the dressing room, ‘Get me a cup of tea and a couple of pies, for Christ’s sake.’ When I sat down with my tea and pies, my mind was made up. If we had lost the final I would have carried on, but I thought, ‘Well, we’ve won the Cup now and maybe it’s a good time to go.’ I knew I was going to finish.”

Regrets

Rumour has it almost immediately after resigning, Bill thoroughly regretted his decision. By the time the new football season came around, Shanks was back at Melwood FC, training with the players, enjoying the camaraderie and the chance to put his boots on again. Some players were calling him ‘boss’ and treating him as equally as their real manager Bob Paisley, to his annoyance.

“I wasn’t feeling ill or anything like that, but I felt though that if I was away from the pressures of Anfield for a while, and rested, it would make me fitter and rejuvenate me. I felt I could contribute more later on. I would never leave the city of Liverpool, and still wanted to be involved in football. I still wanted to help Liverpool, because the club the club had become my life. But I wasn’t given the chance.”

The retirement was a clean break between LFC and Shankly, to both side’s disappointment. However living close to Everton’s training ground, Bill would often call in and join in the training sessions, proving that many of his cutting comments about Liverpool’s city opponents were no more than harmless shots to fabricate a sense of bitter rivalry.

Shanks spent his first Saturday afternoon in retirement watching Everton Vs Derby County as the club’s special guest, and was met by a rapturous applause by the Goodison crowd.

He would talk to anyone about football and go anywhere to put his boots on again. Simply because, he just loved the game.
To him, the beautiful game was just that.