Author Topic: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book  (Read 52926 times)

Offline LadyLala

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George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« on: April 18, 2006, 10:19:22 AM »
Not sure how many of you have read the book 'The Best of Times', but apparently it's a pretty old book, published back in 1994. But because it's a non-Liverpool book, I would think not many would have read it... I found this book in the library yesterday, and I don't know why, somehow I actually flipped through the pages and found this chapter titled "Shanks".

There were some priceless stories in this chapter about Shanks, so eventually I borrowed the book, and thought I'd share it with you guys...

This might be long, because I typed the entire chapter out!

But it's worth a read, if you all haven't heard the stories before. And if you've the time...

I confess I don't know much about Best and Shankly because I'm not that old, but I do know both of them were legends for their respective clubs. And the stories I've heard about Shankly have always been nothing short of amazing...

Ok here goes:
------------------------------------------------------------------
Apart from the derby matches against Manchester City the really important game of the season for me was against Liverpool. I was always one for the big occasion and they didn't come much bigger in the domestic football calendar than United against Liverpool.

For a start, you had two of the greatest post-war managers of British football pitting their wits against each other. Matt Busby and Bill Shankly both achieved a rare status reserved for the truly great by becoming legends in their own time. They were both great motivators and had that rarest of ability to spot talent. It was Shankly who spotted the potential of Ray Clemence and Kevin Keegan when they were playing Fourth Division football with Scunthorpe United. It was Matt Busby who thrust me into the United first team just after my seventeenth birthday and who signed a scrawny kid with terrible eyesight called Norbert Stiles.

It was a clash of the Titans every time the two clubs met. At United we could boast a team bristling with internationals. Likewise Liverpool. In the mid-sixties their players were household names: Ian St John, Chris Lawler, Ron Yeats, Ian Callaghan, Peter Thompson, Tony Hateley and Roger Hunt, who was a member of England's World Cup-winning team of 1966. The atmosphere when the teams met was electric. When the Liverpool Kop sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone', I'd look up from the pitch and see them swaying in time to their singing, which had the force and emotion of a massed cathedral choir.

Bill Shankly, like Matt Busby, was a canny Scot who was never lost for words. I liked him a great deal and I know he liked me. I respected his knowledge of the game and loved his keen wit, which was as sharp as legend has it. It was Shanks who, on hearing Denis Law remark that he enjoyed coming to Anfield because 'you always get a lovely cup of tea', turned to Denis and said, 'Aye, Denis son, but that's all you'll get when you come here. A cup of tea!'

After a game against Liverpool at Old Trafford in 1965, Shanks asked how I was coping with life. I was only nineteen at the time. I said things were fine with First Division football, but I was unsure about how to handle the constant media attention.

'Fame, son,' Shanks told me, 'is the price you pay for doing your job well.'

A few years later I was to understand the full implications of his words. It seemed every time I met Shanks he would come out with at least one piece of worldly wisdom or humour. When I was about to renegotiate a contract at Old Trafford and intimated that I would be looking for a considerable rise in basic pay, Shanks gave me a long hard look. 'George, son, some advice,' he said. 'Don't be too demanding, because it's a sad fact of life that genius is born and not paid.'

He went on to tell me the story of the Liverpool full back Gerry Byrne, who, having won a place in the England team, felt he was worth considerably more than his new contract was offering. However, the way Shanks saw it, Gerry was paid for what he did for Liverpool. The fact that he had made the England team had nothing to do with what he was paid at Anfield and therefore it did not merit a rise in his wages. Gerry argued that international status was proof he had become a better player with his club.

'I may be wrong on other points, boss,' Gerry said, pressing his point. 'But I am right on this one, aren't I?'

'So what if you are?' Shanks told him. 'Even a broken clock is right twice in a day.'

Following a game against Southampton at Anfield, a young reporter from the Southern Evening Echo collared Shanks to ask him what he thought about a young Southampton winger called Mick Channon. Shanks was polite and told the reporter he thought the young Channon was a very good winger indeed.

'Would you say he's as good a player as Stan Matthews?' the reporter asked.

'Oh, aye,' Shankly said earnestly. 'As a player he's definitely on par with Stan Matthews.'

The reporter thanked Shanks for his time and turned away, scribbling the quote into his notebook. Suddenly, Shanks reached out and caught the young man by the arm. 'This Channon is as good a player as Stan Matthews,' he said, 'but what you have to remember is that Stan is sixty-five now.'

-----------------------------
In 1967, we arrived at Anfield to play Liverpool and as I glanced out of the window of the coach I saw Bill Shankly standing at the main entrance. I was the first player to alight from the coach and when I reached the entrance Bill shook my hand warmly. 'Good to see you again, George,' he said. 'You're looking well, son.'

This was unusual for him, and knowing Shanks to be a wily old fox, I decided to hang around to try to find out what he was up to. As each of the United players entered Anfield, Shanks shook his hand, welcomed him and told him how good he looked. Eventually, Bobby Charlton, a born worrier, came up to Shanks.

'Bobby, son. Good to see you,' Shanks said, shaking his hand. 'But by God, if ever there was a man who looked ill, it's you, Bobby!'

Bobby's face went as colourless as an icicle. 'Ill? I look ill?' he repeated, running the fingers of his right hand over his forehead and down his right cheek. He was visibly shaken,

'Aye, Bobby, son. You look like you're sickening for something. If I were you I'd see a doctor as soon as you set foot back in Manchester.' Shanks patted Bobby on the back and took off down the corridor, leaving him trembling in the foyer.

In the dressing room, Bobby was conspicious by his absence and, ominously, there was a delay in announcing the team. We sat around kicking our heels, no one daring to get changed in case Matt Busby had a tactical plan which meant leaving one of us out. The thought of getting changed only to be told to put your clothes back on because you're not in the team is a player's nightmare.

Eventually Matt Busby entered the dressing room with Jimmy Murphy and told us they had reshuffled the team which had beaten West Ham the previous week. Bobby Charlton was unavailable. He'd suddenly been taken ill.
-----------------------------------------
The following season we were back at Anfield and Shanks was up to his old tricks. As the United party made their way down the corridor to the away changing room, he appeared from his office. 'Guess what, boys?' he said, brandishing a little orange ticket. 'I've had a go on the tickets that give the time when the away team will score. And it says here, in a fortnight!' With that, he disappeared back into his office.

We lost that encounter 2-0 and after the game I was chatting to Liverpool's Ray Clemence, who revealed to me another piece of Shankly kidology.

Prior to the game, Shankly had received the United team sheet and he incorporated it into his team talk. His intention was to run us down and, in so doing, boost the confidence of his own players. 'Alex Stepney,' Shanks began. 'A flapper of a goalkeeper. Hands like a Teflon frying pan - non-stick. Right back, Shay Brennan. Slow on the turn, give him a roasting. Left back is Tony Dunne. Even slower than Brennan. He goes on an overlap at twenty past three and doesn't come back until a quarter to four. Right half, Nobby Stiles. A dirty little -beep-. Kick him twice as hard as he kicks you and you'll have no trouble with him.'

'Bill Foulkes, a big, cumbersome centre half who can't direct his headers. He had a head like a sheriff's badge, so play on him. Paddy Crerand. Slower than steam rising off a dog turd. You'll bypass him easily.'

The Liverpool players felt as if they were growing in stature with his every word. 'David Sadler,' Shanks continued. 'Wouldn't get a place in our reserves. And finally, John Aston. A chicken, hit him once and you'll never hear from him again. As the manager finished his demolition job on United, Emlyn Hyghes raised his hand. 'That's all very well, boss,' he said, 'but you haven't mentioned George Best, Denis Law or Bobby Charlton.' Shanks turned on him. 'You mean to tell me we can't beat a team that has only three players in it?' he said, glowering.
I never know how I'm supposed to respond to "What's up?"

Offline Forbsie

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2006, 10:27:08 AM »
Thanks for that.

Sitting smiling after reading it.
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Offline kevindublin

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2006, 10:28:23 AM »
Nice little read that.
Must of taken ages typing it up

Offline byrnetred

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2006, 10:29:18 AM »
great read that cheers..
loved the bobby charlton getting ill bit...
...i miss my scouse accent...

Offline Ryde-On

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2006, 10:29:23 AM »
brilliant! thanks for this.

Offline thechulloran

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2006, 10:34:36 AM »
-----------------------------
In 1967, we arrived at Anfield to play Liverpool and as I glanced out of the window of the coach I saw Bill Shankly standing at the main entrance. I was the first player to alight from the coach and when I reached the entrance Bill shook my hand warmly. 'Good to see you again, George,' he said. 'You're looking well, son.'

This was unusual for him, and knowing Shanks to be a wily old fox, I decided to hang around to try to find out what he was up to. As each of the United players entered Anfield, Shanks shook his hand, welcomed him and told him how good he looked. Eventually, Bobby Charlton, a born worrier, came up to Shanks.

'Bobby, son. Good to see you,' Shanks said, shaking his hand. 'But by God, if ever there was a man who looked ill, it's you, Bobby!'

Bobby's face went as colourless as an icicle. 'Ill? I look ill?' he repeated, running the fingers of his right hand over his forehead and down his right cheek. He was visibly shaken,

'Aye, Bobby, son. You look like you're sickening for something. If I were you I'd see a doctor as soon as you set foot back in Manchester.' Shanks patted Bobby on the back and took off down the corridor, leaving him trembling in the foyer.

In the dressing room, Bobby was conspicious by his absence and, ominously, there was a delay in announcing the team. We sat around kicking our heels, no one daring to get changed in case Matt Busby had a tactical plan which meant leaving one of us out. The thought of getting changed only to be told to put your clothes back on because you're not in the team is a player's nightmare.

Eventually Matt Busby entered the dressing room with Jimmy Murphy and told us they had reshuffled the team which had beaten West Ham the previous week. Bobby Charlton was unavailable. He'd suddenly been taken ill.
-----------------------------------------


Unbelievable that is just legendary, Shankly is God. ;D
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Offline Sajets

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2006, 10:36:55 AM »
Brilliant man he was. Thanks for typing that in. :)

Offline Walton_Gary

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2006, 10:39:06 AM »
So george best isnt all that bad after all ???

Mind you even a broken clock is right twice a day ;D

Offline StevieG26

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2006, 10:41:40 AM »
What a great read! Possibly the best article I've seen in here for weeks.

Thanks for that ;)
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Offline Indi

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2006, 10:44:59 AM »
Thanks for posting that!

Offline MadErik

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2006, 10:46:53 AM »
Fantastic reading.
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Offline trigger

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2006, 10:48:29 AM »
Left back is Tony Dunne. Even slower than Brennan. He goes on an overlap at twenty past three and doesn't come back until a quarter to four.

:lmao

funny as fuck
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Offline marvin

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2006, 10:50:03 AM »
Thanks for taking the time to post these stories. Fantastic stuff. 

Offline dragonpool

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2006, 10:53:18 AM »
Thanks for that, enjoyable read.
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Offline zigackly

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2006, 11:04:02 AM »
Always makes me smile reading about Shanks. He was a one-off. Thanks for typing it out, I would never have read Best's book in the normal way of things.
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Offline Bannside Red

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2006, 11:05:30 AM »
Enjoyed reading that, thanks.

Offline The-Reds

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2006, 11:09:35 AM »
I'll drink to that!

Offline Scuba Steve

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2006, 11:13:44 AM »
Cheers for typing that up :D
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Offline Deadlogic

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2006, 11:29:36 AM »
I was brought up on the wisdom of Shanks, thanks to my Dad.  What a man. 

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Offline The-Reds

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2006, 11:32:51 AM »
Raise a toast!

Offline TheRedBaron

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2006, 11:52:14 AM »
Alright shut up with the drinking thing now nobhead
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Offline SkyBlueRed

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2006, 12:32:57 PM »
Enjoyed that  ;D Cheers!
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Offline Glorious Future

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2006, 01:01:23 PM »
Shanks' humour seemes so similar to scouse wit. With a Scot's dry edge.
Quality that.
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Offline 4pool

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2006, 01:17:23 PM »
Brilliant read..thanx..
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Offline Ken-Obi

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2006, 01:19:05 PM »
Great stuff - I can now see why he's a legend. Sir Bob may have done better in terms of achievements but I've not known anybody with that kind of wit.

"Even a broken clock is right twice a day".

Good God, if only were Rafa that witty with his remarks.

And the "You mean to tell me we can't beat a team that has only three players in it?" was genius. I knew Shanks was the type who said nothing good about the opposition for his team talks (read it somewhere here on RAWK) but that was brilliant, while knowing to praise talent when he sees some.

Pity Best didn't play under Shanks - he may probably not be heading for the kind of mess he got himself in with a mentor like that.

And of course, :thumbup for the effort. This could make the Opinion pages for the week.

Also, it seemed to show some things I've thought of before : the players off and on the pitch are gentlemen. None of those Neville 'I hate scousers' nonsense. Rarely hear about opposition managers mingling with the opposition players nowadays.
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Offline The-Reds

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2006, 01:20:11 PM »

Good God, if only were Rafa that witty with his remarks.

WTF is that meant to mean?

Offline Ken-Obi

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #26 on: April 18, 2006, 01:22:53 PM »
WTF is that meant to mean?
With such a wit Rafa would be 'complete', if you know what I mean. Seems like the tactical geniuses are normally soft spoken or quiet - Bob, Capello etc.
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Offline zigackly

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2006, 01:24:42 PM »
I think Rafa's very witty. Very dry with it, I don't think everyone always catches it. Those comments about Gerrard being manager one day were funny as fuck for instance. He lampoons people with a big smile and they don't even realise he's done it.
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Offline Elli

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2006, 01:31:23 PM »
I think Rafa's very witty. Very dry with it, I don't think everyone always catches it. Those comments about Gerrard being manager one day were funny as fuck for instance. He lampoons people with a big smile and they don't even realise he's done it.

And then there was 'I must go quickly to the hospital to check that Robben is alright' ;D

Thanks for typing that up; I'd never have read Best's book but I love all those old stories.

Offline swink

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2006, 01:35:30 PM »
Quality little read that mate, like the quite about the broken clock. ;D
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Offline snez1

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2006, 01:53:59 PM »
Cheers for that, excellent read!

Offline gazzalfc

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #31 on: April 18, 2006, 02:04:41 PM »
Rafa has some wit.

Have a look on here about rafa's views on cricket. Or rafa's first views on Carra's accent.

He has the wit. Just with the language barrier in his first season he was unable at times to get the punchline across.

Offline mr-4

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #32 on: April 18, 2006, 02:21:18 PM »
Top post - excellent read LadyLala.

"Even a broken clock is right twice a day".

Good God, if only were Rafa that witty with his remarks.

With such a wit Rafa would be 'complete', if you know what I mean. Seems like the tactical geniuses are normally soft spoken or quiet - Bob, Capello etc.

He is learning though (he had a few of those, the 3-legged table as well as the famous 'car' examples) - don't forget that English is not his native language and witty remarks like the ones mentioned in the original post come only after a lot of first-hand experience with the language and only after communicating with the locals (understand scouse) on a regular basis. You are not going to learn this kind of witty language by reading 'English-as-a-foreign-language' books.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2006, 02:23:20 PM by mr-4 »
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Offline mr-4

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #33 on: April 18, 2006, 02:27:03 PM »
And then there was 'I must go quickly to the hospital to check that Robben is alright' ;D
;D Forgot about that one - he proves to be a quick learner.
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Offline Armin

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #34 on: April 18, 2006, 02:29:52 PM »
I really enjoyed that, many thanks for taking the trouble to type it out.
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Offline thespianchef

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2006, 02:55:53 PM »
Really amusing! :-) Cheers for typing it.

maybe there should be a classic excerpts post in the boozer with that one heading it. people could type out their favorite parts of books of past and present players???
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Offline Rozzer

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2006, 03:02:01 PM »
excellent read! Cheers ;D
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Offline arabian red

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #37 on: April 18, 2006, 03:03:06 PM »
most enjoyable - thanks for the typing effort

Offline BazC

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #38 on: April 18, 2006, 03:17:02 PM »
Thanks a lot LadyLala! I'm too young to have watched Shankly's teams, like you, and posts like these are the only indication I get of is genius. Witty as hell, and it's clear to see why this man's considered a saint amongst Liverpool fans. "Even a clock is right twice in a day"... amazing.

And the person who said "wish Rafa was as witty"?! Fuckin' hell! Shankly was clearly a one off, as is Rafa. Rafa may not be as witty- but I'm not complaining!

Really enjoyed that  :wave
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Offline Ken-Obi

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Re: George Best on Shankly... an excerpt from his book
« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2006, 03:30:03 PM »
And the person who said "wish Rafa was as witty"?! Fuckin' hell! Shankly was clearly a one off, as is Rafa. Rafa may not be as witty- but I'm not complaining!

All right already, I apologise for all this blasphemy! :sad
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