"Dodgy Perms and Moustaches"
Not content with resting on his laurels, Shanks was beginning to realise that the great players and sides he had created in the 60's were coming toward the end of their careers. He also realised that his out and out attacking philosophy had to be adjusted if he was to succeed in Europe. And so the rebuilding of a new side began.
Emlyn Hughes was signed from Blackpool, Crazy Horse's workrate on the pitch astounded the Kop, he could play for 90 minutes, cover every blade of grass and appeared to leave the pitch looking like he could play another game.Kop : You've not seen nothin like the Mighty Emlyn
Kevin Keegan was just the same, everybody hated being paired with these two in training because their efforts at Melwood were as vivid as they were on matchdays. Kevin was a pocket dynamo, perhaps not a natural footballer, but he trained hard and deserved all the plaudits he gained.Kop : Kevin Keegan walks on water, tra la la la la
Ray Clemence, like Keegan, had Also been signed for "pennies" from Scunthorpe and was to prove himself to be The Best in the World in my opinion and certainly the best since Elisha Scott.Kop : Englands No. 1
Larry Lloyd might not have been as enormous as Yeats, but his heart and determination were equal. Toshack had to be the biggest striker I'd ever seen, he had to be 7' tall, not a genius on the deck, but unbeatable in the air and he was to form a partnership that even University scholars thought was telepathic in a test for TV. Years after their testing on ESP Toshack did admit that Keegan could read the cards through the camera lens, but it had everyone in the test absolutely amazed.
Also coming and going in this period was Alun Evans. No one in Anfield had ever heard of the lad before he signed, but what he was to do one night against Bayern Munich will go down in folklore. Playing basically against the German international team, he tore the defence apart and completed one of the finest hat-tricks I've ever seen. Peter Cormack was to be lumbered as my favorite player in the coming years, a very slight player, but as skillful as I'd seen at the time and was not fully replaced until we signed McDermott.
Alec Lindsay could peel an orange with that left foot of his and after spending some time in the reserves as leading goalscorer, Shanks made him into the finest Left Back still to this day. Steve Heighway (the Professor) had also joined us straight from university, not only could he play, but he had letters after his name. Steve Heighway "FMW" ('kin Magic Winger). Wooly has letters by the way, although not very well known Wooly is an MBE ( Mrs Brodrick's Eldest).
Together with some of the old school Lawler, Smith & Cally (yes Cally is still playing, he must be 70 at least now) we set out to Conquer Europe. Just for the record and those with a short memory, in 1971 when Keegan was sitting on a bin outside Anfield waiting for Shanks to sign him up, there was no perm in sight. Dodgy mullet maybe, but the forthcoming spate of Dodgy Perms and Moustaches had yet to arrive. I'll start this story with the FA Cup semi-final match against the Bluenoses in late March 1971.
Couldn't think of a better place to start - we faced at the time, probably one of the finest midfields ever assembled. Kendal, Harvey and Ball were a sight to behold and in fairness I think they were favourites to take the tie. Morrisey the "turncoat" was still doing his bit for Everton and together with Ball, they conjured up the first goal. Leading 1-0 at half time, I'm convinced the bluenoses were already booking their tickets for Wembley (in hindsight, perhaps it would have been wise to let them face Charlie George), but that was not the Liverpool way. Second half goals from Evans and Hall confirmed that the RED half of the city would again be visiting what was to become "Anfield South".
I'm not going to say anything about the final other than, if I was on the pitch when Charlie lay on the floor he'd have got a right kicking!! I'm not a violent man, but he really did tempt fate with his celebration when Smithy was only yards away. On the return to Liverpool, the mood was down, but the hundreds of thousands to greet them when they entered Liverpool will go down as the finest greeting for any runners up. Shanks needed to inspire his beloved fans in their moment of darkness:
Shanks to the crowd: "Ladies and Gentlemen ...... Yesterday at Wembley we might have lost the Cup, but you the Liverpool people have won everything. You have won the admiration of the Policemen in London, and you have won the admiration of the public in London."
The speech didn't stop there. This would be the occasion of one of Shanks' most famous quotes. On the open top bus trip to Lime Street, Shanks had turned to another of his university educated players, Brian Hall.
"Son", he said "You know about these things, who's that Chairman with the red book, lots of sayings? The chinaman, what's his name?"
Brian Hall: "Do you mean Chairman Mao?"
Shanks: "Aye, that's him son, Chairman Mao, that's him"
Hall thought this unusual but all was about to be revealed. Upto half a million fans had gathered outside St. George's Hall waiting for Shanks and the players to appear on the balcony. Shanks held wide his arms and silence descended on the reds down below and delivered one of the great opening lines:
"Chairman Mao has never seen the greatest show of red strength"
And so the "Chairman Mao" speech was entered the "Halls of Oratory Genius".
He stood facing the crowd with both arms open, the crowd went WILD. If this man could be this positive in defeat, you had to believe in him. AND WE DID !!
The arrival of Kevin Keegan at the beginning of 1971/72 was the missing link, he trained like a loony, he played like a loony and everyone around him was to become infected by his desire for success. The season started well enough, but drawing Bayern Munich in the second round of the ECWC did us no favours and we went out 3-1 on aggregate. The League run in of 13 wins in 16 games saw us lose narrowly to Derby, but our defence was becoming really tight and only 30 goals were put past us all season.
The Attack, attack, attack policy was being tweaked into Defend in numbers, break forward in numbers and the signs that this would pay big dividends were on the horizon. 1972/73 saw Shanks's new side pick up the League (again) the Uefa Cup and in hindsight I can't help but feel if the FA Cup had also been won, that this would have been the perfect time for Shanks to bow out. At the top where he belonged.
Shanks had brought a team from "Down among the Dead Men" to being the best in Britain and possibly Europe. Shanks entered the 1973/74 campaign with high hopes in all competitions (nothing new there then!) but early exit in Europe to Red Star and up and down performances in the league were gonna be big disappointments to him and all the fans. But the team and Shanks dug deep and made every effort to finish the season with something.
The FA Cup run was our only hope, and defeating our 'bogey' team Leicester in the semi's once again seen us qualify for the Final. Shanks once again took up the fans plight on tickets. It was and is still a disgrace how tickets are allocated in Cup Finals and Shanks and all the players made extra efforts in trying to get additional tickets. The press was full of "Big Gob MacDonald" and what they were going to do to us in the final and it wasn't only Smithy who wanted to knock what few teeth he had down his throat. And there was very little sign of him wanting to be interviewed after we had shoved THREE right up 'em at Wembley. I was one of the many mulleted 17 year old fans around Wembley that day. You might have seen me, I had had it dyed "Post Box RED" and had the signs of growth on me upper lip, but I was also soon to become one of the 18 yr old muppets with a DODGY PERM and adult MOUSTACHE.
Once more Liverpool fans thronged to greet the team home at St George's Hall - this time in victory.
The Shankly Years were soon to come to a close (in little over 8 weeks the great man would resign) but we were now the envy of the world. Little did we know that this was only the foundation of greater things to come.
What we were looking for now was a 'Master Builder' to build an EMPIRE on the solid foundations that Shanks had left. How could we suspect that he was right under our nose? No not the dodgy moustache but the little general from off Hunts Cross Avenue, who was to be seen often walking around in a dirty mac, shopping in Tesco Woolton Village. Bob Paisley.
No Shankly story could ever be complete without some of the man's pearls of wisdom, here are some of my favourites.Sir Bill Shankly - The Quotes
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.
Shanks on the Hallowed Turf :
"Just look at that grass boys, it's great grass, it's professional grass. (Always made me giggle, I wonder how many at the time added, Can it be smoked ?)
Shanks on boardroom meetings:
"At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques, not to make them out. We'll do that, they just sign them.
Shanks on his relationship with the fans:
"I'm just one of the people who stands on the kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It's a kind of marriage of people who like each other."
Shanks on Tommy Smith:
"If he isn't named Footballer of the Year, football should be stopped and the men who picked any other player should be sent to the Kremlin."
"Fire in your belly comes from pride and passion in wearing the red shirt. We don't need to motivate players because each of them is responsible for the performance of the team as a whole. The status of Liverpool's players keeps them motivated."
"Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple."
Shanks to a Liverpool fan:
"Where are you from?"
"I'm a Liverpool fan from London."
"Well laddie . . . . What's it like to be in heaven?
"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."
Shanks on offsides :
"If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be."
"If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I'd pull the curtains."
Shanks to Tommy Smith:
"You son, you could start a riot in a graveyard."
Shanks on the day he signed Ian St John:
"Son, you'll do well here as long as you remember two things. Don't over-eat and don't lose your accent."
Shanks to Kevin Keegan :
"Just go out and drop a few hand-grenades all over the place, son."
Shanks on Brian Clough :
"He's worse than the rain in Manchester. At least the rain in Manchester stops occasionally."
Shanks to Tommy Smith, who tried to explain that his bandaged knee was injured :
"Take that poof bandage off. And what do you mean about YOUR knee? It's Liverpool's knee!"
Shanks to the journalist suggesting Liverpool were in difficulties :
"Ay, here we are with problems at the top of the league."
Shanks to a translator, when being surrounded by gesticulating Italian journalists :
"Just tell them I completely disagree with everything they say!"
Shanks about the "This is Anfield" plaque :
"It's there to remind our lads who they're playing for, and to remind the opposition who they're playing against."
Shanks to Alan Ball, who'd just signed for Everton :
"Don't worry, Alan. At least you'll be able to play close to a great team!"
Shanks to a barber when asked if he wanted anything off the top :
A scout told Shanks about a young player who he'd given a trial at Liverpool
"He has football in his blood," the disappointed scout complained. "You may be right," Shanks said, "but it hasn't reached his legs yet!"
Shanks at Dixie Dean's funeral :
"I know this is a sad occasion but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death he could draw a bigger crowd than Everton can on a Saturday Afternoon."
Shanks when told he had never experienced playing in a derby :
"Nonsense! I've kicked every ball, headed out every cross. I once scored a hat-trick; One was lucky, but the others were great goals."
Shanks after beating Everton in the '71 cup semi :
"Sickness would not have kept me away from this one. If I'd been dead, I would have had them bring the casket to the ground, prop it up in the stands and cut a hole in the lid."
Shanks to a photographer who suggested Brian Clough was outspoken :
"Laddie, that man scored 200 goals in 270 matches - an incredible record - and he has won cup after cup as a manager. When he talks, pin back your ears."
"A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are. In my time at Liverpool we always said we had the best two teams on Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool Reserves."
"If you are first you are first. If you are second, you are nothing."
"The trouble with referees is that they know the rules, but they do not know the game."
Shanks to a reporter in the 60's :
"Yes, Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them."
Shanks after signing Ron Yeats :
"With him in defence, we could play Arthur Askey in goal."
Shanks after a hard fought 1-1 draw :
"The best side drew."
Shanks after a 0-0 draw at Anfield :
"What can you do, playing against 11 goalposts?"
Shanks to the players after failing to sign Lou Macari :
"I only wanted him for the reserves."
Jock Stein on Shanks :
"I don't believe everything Bill tells me about his players. If they were that good, they'd not only have won the European Cup but the Ryder Cup, the Boat Race and even the Grand National!"
Shanks talking to a Liverpool trainee :
"The problem with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head."
Shanks on Ian St.John :
"He's not just the best centre-forward in the British Isles, but the only one."
Shanks on Ian Callaghan :
"He typifies everything that is good in football, and he has never changed. You could stake your life on Ian."
To Alan Ball Snr after breaking down in the Mersey Tunnel and being offered a tow :
"You've gotta be jokin, can you imagine the headlines in tomorra's Echo? "Shankly pulled out of the Mersey Tunnel by the balls"
Nessie on Shanks :
"Bill always cleans the oven when Liverpool get beat, that's why we have the dirtiest oven in the League."
Shanks on his resignation :
"It was the most difficult thing in the world, when I went to tell the chairman. It was like walking to the electric chair. That's the way it felt"
My Dad on Shanks :
For a little man he's got the balls of an Elephant and the heart of a LION.
Wooly on Shanks :
I believed every word he ever uttered.
He said we were the greatest side there had ever been, and he was right.
He said he would build a Bastion of Invincibility, he did.
He said the fans are the lifeblood of the club, we are.
He said they would have to send a team from Mars to beat us, it was the only lie he ever spoke, we beat the Martians 8-0.
I trust that you have enjoyed this series of articles about a great man
and hope it's brought a ray of sunshine into your lives. Let's all hope that The Holy Trinity LIDDELL, SHANKS & PAISLEY all stand together again in the near future.
Many thanks to my Dad who has helped me on more than one occasion. Let's just hope that in years to come, one of you younger readers will be able to do a job like this for the future manager who brings back the glory years.© Wooltonian 2003