Author Topic: #SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan  (Read 2813 times)

Offline John C

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#SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« on: August 25, 2013, 08:23:25 pm »

This the 1969/70 official club photo signed by every player, Geoff Strong & Ian Callaghan are missing from the left and Alex Lindsay & Bobby Graham from the right.

I was born in 1962 and my dad died in 1964, with no bothers and my uncles & my cousins primary interests being non-football activities there was never a male dominance on where my sporting thoughts or interests would tread and in particular I was never raised by any strong football influences.

For my sixth birthday one cousin took me to see South Liverpool and another took me in to Bullens Road to see Everton. Frighteningly there may have been an open verdict at the time of where my support would lye.  *shudders*
A voracious appetite for football was all ready involuntarily formulating in my mind though. I was consumed by the Saturday evening football results, writing copious notes as they were broadcast then I’d assiduously study them. But this was insufficient, and with absolutely no internet or other media facility the only additional and immediate source was the Football Echo which became available at newsagents from about 6.30 on a Saturday evening.
When writing this I was uncertain about how young I was so to verify it I asked one of my mates what year he moved from his house by a newsagents I visited. 1968 he confirmed. I knew it, even though it was an era of innocence, I couldn’t believe my mum let me walk about half a mile across quite a busy road to acquire the football Echo at that age. This wasn’t the local shop, this was the closest shop that sold the Echo. But my obsession at age 6 took me there every Saturday evening, rain, snow and darkness, and I recall standing waiting for the van with this lad who only lived a few yards away.
So, with the massive pink football Echo obscuring my view I walked home scanning the reports about the games, then I’d soak it all up, back to front 3 or 4 times until I was sent to bed. I was entering an era in which I’d start to discover what hero’s and idols are.
Roger Hunt became my first ever hero and I’d become a Red.
I was irreversibly immersed in to the communal love affair that people had with Liverpool Football Club I didn’t know at the time that meant for the rest of my life. I became addicted to the pursuit and desire for all things and everything Liverpool. I didn’t know that 45 years later I would get a lump in my throat about a cup finals and good times that were yet to be experienced.
And with the realisation of being a Red brought the adoration and appreciation of the rest of the team and Tony Hateley became my next hero. But it was the realisation that our manager was special that increased my love for the club. Bill Shankly had an awe about him. He was simply different in every way, a man with gravitas and charisma but at 6-years old I had an insufficient vocabulary to describe what you felt about him. You just knew it.  It’s incredible how such a man can have an impact on you and he delivered me hero after hero for many years but who also sold Tony Hateley – I was gutted at the time.
Me and very best mate John (H) who is still my very best mate today, use to kick the ball against my mums front wall, kick the ball, kick the ball, endlessly taking shots, taking it in turns to be Hunt or Lawrence. I recall an old man (who was probably only 40!) regularly stopping for a chat with us as he rode up our rode on his bike. Knowing our love for Liverpool he leant his in-turned handle-barred bike against the wall and told us stories about the rise of the club as I looked down at the bicycle clips on both of his legs rolling the massive ball under my foot. How I’d love to be able to chat to that man now who is long deceased but who taught me so much about the values of the club and endorsed my feelings about Bill Shankly. Stories about the 1664 league win and the 1965 cup win made my mouth water and I longed for our next piece of success.
So my bedroom wall became cluttered with cuttings and pictures of any and every photograph the football Echo produced of a Liverpool player or winning headline. LFC Scarf’s were bought for me by my family together with anything else from the limited memorabilia and LFC items available in the late ‘60’s.
But something was missing, although I was so young I needed to visit the sacred land. I longed to experience the roar of the Kop portrayed to me weekly in the Echo. There was zero chance of it happening for many reasons.
It was 1968 and my mum had started seeing a bloke, she protected my sister & I by not bringing him home at first. All we knew was that his name was Bill (H). I had little interest in him when she spoke of him even when she said he supported Liverpool and went to the game every other week. Then one day in the Summer of 1968 …….
Mum: “Bill has offered to take you to see Liverpool”.
Me: “ *gulp* are you serious, I’m going the match, I’m actually going the match”
Mum: Would you go with him, you haven’t even met him.
Me: Can I go and tell John.
Mum: Wait, you haven’t met him yet, .…. he’s ….. he’s bald and chubby ….”
I haven’t got a clue what my reply was, I recall the conversation until that point, I just remember being ecstatic about going to the match with some fat baldy fella I resented and had never met.
A couple of weeks later mum announces he was taking me “this Saturday”. You can’t imagine, no seriously you CAN’T imagine what I felt like. It was the 1968/69 season, we went to see Liverpool play Sunderland at home.
Mum had a car and dropped us off on the corner of Utting Avenue, I hardly said a word, I was shy and just desperate to get in to the ground. Much of the memory has faded but I distinctly remember this man shitting himself about losing me. As we walked though the crowds and got close to the ground he was holding on to me repeating “stay by me, stay be me, then we stood somewhere in the perimeter of the old stadium (probably outside the Main Stand but I hadn’t a clue at the time) and Bill said “if you get lost come and stand here”, I looked around, just seeing a massive Anfield structure, hundreds of people 15 feet taller than me, unable to recognise or familiarise myself with anything and said “ok”.
We entered the ground, and my desire to see the famous Kop and the hallowed turf was delayed by Bill’s insistence that he brought me something from the shop inside the ground - much to his own torture. He stood me against a wall alone with instructions of "don't move John, I'll be in that queue". I stood glancing at Bill occasionally thinking what are you worrying about as the poor mans head was on a swivel glancing back at me every 2-seconds to ensure the precious cargo didn't go missing as he edged forward in the queue. How would he ever explain to his new found love that he’d lost her baby boy in a crowd at Anfield.
I stood absorbing everything, I could never have imagined what the at-the-game activity was like, people everywhere going in different directions carrying scarves, that’s what I loved the most – being submersed in the atmosphere, seeing hundreds of Liverpool scarves around me with the noise from the crowd filtering down the Main Stand steps.
At last we ascended the steps, my primary memory is seeing the massive pitch stretching out far & wide and a sea of red everywhere I looked. I was mesmerized.
When we finally sat down and settled in our seats moments before kick-off, Bill made polite conversation our manager “Bill Shankly” and his philosophy's proving it was adults as well as kids who worshiped this man. I was impatient though, I didn’t particularly want to listen to this old man ramble, I just wanted the game to kick-off.
The team will have consisted of players like Lawrence, Byrne, Lawler, Yeats, Smith, Strong, Callaghan, Hall, St John, Thompson (Peter), Hunt, Hateley. I probably only watched 50% of the game, there was too much going on around me, the shouting & swearing & distractions made me look over my right then left shoulder, I wanted to observe these men of Anfield and to watch the Kop sway.
At half-time it was back down the steps to the shop and more torture for Bill, he really was terrified in case I disappeared as he queued for something else.
Liverpool won 4-1 and my hero Hateley netted a goal. I went to dozens and dozens of games after that and I never saw Liverpool get beat until 6 March 1976 when Boro came and beat us 0-2, it was unthinkable.
What an experience, sitting in the back of my mums Mini on the way home I reflected on Bill's words about Bill Shankly and the club. I had much to learn. I regarded Liverpool as the team I loved and supported. Although at age 6 I didn't know what ‘institution’ meant, my young mind told me I knew nothing yet compared to those grown-ups around me. The men who go to the game, with their deep voices and aggressive tones. It was the first step in my life-long journey to accompany Liverpool Football club through its next 45 years of adventure.
It was after that Bill started coming round to the house and I became the fortunate recipient of Liverpool related treats. He obviously knew someone that worked at the club, I don’t recall who it was, because he had access to the team and he’d arrive at our house with large coloured photographs of the team signed by all the players and loads of other souvenirs.

One night my mum and Bill were in a restaurant in town and sat adjacent to Bill Shankly, My mum told me Shankly was delighted to sign an autograph on a brown envelope which I had the delight of taking in to school. I showed it to a lad who had decided he didn’t support Liverpool anymore, he supported Chelsea. He snatched it off me and started to write “is shit” under the autograph. It was only years later learning what dyslexia meant that I realised why the lad missed an ‘s’ before he got whacked.

Bill H also got me signed pictures and birthday messages from Ian Callaghan, Ray Clemence and my next hero,  Kevin Keegan.

I still have every item of memorabilia Bill got me, including two rare unusual key rings which they don’t produce the likes of anymore which is a little photobook over every player that unfolds.
Bill took me to dozens of games, we went to an FA Youth Cup semi-final against Everton with one of his mates. I sat on the end of the 3 of us and a bloke sat next to me. I looked up at him and it was only Brian Hall. I nudged Bill and he whispered, “nah it’s not him” Bill said, “he wouldn’t be up here”. The bloke was engrossed in the game and at half time he climbed downed the vacated seats and wandered down the players tunnel – I’d only been watching a game with Brian Hall and nobody else knew it! Unfortunately he didn’t return to his seat for the second half.
Bill returned from the 1971 cup final at Wembley with a horse voice and loads of stories. I told him I’d cried myself to sleep after watching Shankly & his team lose, I was devastated for days.
After the victory over Newcastle in 1974 I went to bed with a huge sense of relief and happiness of not experiencing cup-final day defeat again. It was a wonderful occasion tinged with a degree of sadness. Bill had become ill and died.
I couldn’t possibly have been born in a better era, at an age that gifted me the experience and opportunity to watch Shankly build several Liverpool teams in to that “bastion of invincibility”. Acquiring player after player with exciting and enormous talent and delivering me hero’s like Kevin Keegan. Surely footballing life couldn’t get any better?
In another thread Fat Scouser pointed out that everyone knows where they were on a massive occasion in life. On the 12th of July 1974, I was in school. Probably dazing out of the window wasting my time when a teacher came in and whispered to our form teacher. Then he said “should I tell the kids”, “what is it sir” we enquired”, “Bill Shankly has retired”.

I was 12, big things happen in your life, my young resilience ensured I’d coped when an old relative died, my mum ensured anything or everything was taken care of despite how skint she was. But nobody could reverse this, nobody could assist you to fathom where your club was going and what would happen to your team on Saturday. It was beyond comprehension without exaggeration. I thought I’d die of an old age before Bill Shankly left Liverpool Football Club.
In terms of football I had a fantastic childhood, my own treasured, thoughts, memories, memorabilia, souvenirs, gifts, cards are priceless. But non compare to bumping in the unrecognised, retired, ageing and soon to be deceased protégé of Bill Shankly - Joe Fagan, while shopping with my lad in about 1999. “Excuse me Mr Fagan, can my lad shake your hand please”. His smile beamed as wide as Anfield as he said “of course” and he stretched out his old hand which had touched the gold of football hero’s and the silver of so many trophies that had given me so much please and had been my obsession since 1968. As he clasped my 8-year old sons hand and shock it firmly I could have blubbed on the spot.
Our youth appreciate the history of this club but unless they are well-read they may miss much of the contributing fabric that was seamless of our success after Bill Shankly. To be able to introduce my lad to Joe Fagan and then remind him years later of the privilege he had not only to share a supermarket aisle but an actual conversation with such a wonderful man was enough to make me die happy.
I’ve got dozens of autographs on pieces of paper, including Joe Fagan’s, these are a couple more of my favourites though.

Bill Shankly, what a man.

« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 05:49:39 pm by MichaelA »

Offline Barney_Rubble

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Re: SHANKLY 100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 02:57:18 pm »
Brilliant read, John.

Lucky for you they didn't have today's club shop back then. Some souvenirs money just couldn't buy though. :D


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Re: SHANKLY 100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 03:18:57 pm »
What a fantastic read John. I was experiencing it with you mate. Beautifully done.
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Offline rafathegaffa83

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 04:20:52 am »
Great read.

Offline John C

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2013, 08:14:36 pm »
TALKSPORT doing a tribute NOW - 8.15 Friday

Offline Shady Craig

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #5 on: September 2, 2013, 03:54:11 pm »
great read that John, thanks for sharing it mate

Offline Tsar Kastik

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #6 on: September 2, 2013, 04:14:12 pm »
Splendid stuff that OP John, really enjoyed it
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Offline Red_Mist

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - From Hunt to Keegan
« Reply #7 on: September 2, 2013, 08:15:01 pm »
Lovely story John.