Author Topic: #SHANKLY100 Book Review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back  (Read 4849 times)

Offline Stussy

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#SHANKLY100 Book Review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« on: October 25, 2012, 03:21:44 PM »



In the middle of the ever growing literature on Liverpool FC, how did this book fall under my radar, I thought to myself, as I took a random stroll through the latest LFC related books for my newly acquired Kindle.



And what a book this is.

In the summer of 1962, having finally achieved after three seasons in charge the promotion of Liverpool FC back into the first division, Shanks wrote a series of 14 columns for the Liverpool Echo. This book is, simply, every single one of those comment pieces collected together.

The pleasures of reading Bill's words are endless - not just for the details of his tactical thinking,  of his behind-the-scenes discussions in the boardroom, his training methodologies, his ways of discovering and sensing our opponents weaknesses, his philosophy and clarity of mind and his obsessive, fierce competitive intelligence.

What you get with this is Shank's voice in its purest form, but at a time in which he hadn't established his greatness, in which he is reaching out to the fans, in which he is trying to communicate his vision to Liverpool supporters.

Shanks said these most famous words when looking back at what he had achieved, and they encapsulate the infinite ambition of Bill, but because of how he created us, they also encapsulate how we aspire to be. They seem to define us:

"My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in."

No Liverpool supporter can read these words without feeling their soul stir.

This is the Bill Shankly we know and love, the legend, the supreme man of such swaggering, beautiful belief and ambition. But in these columns, written in his own words, there is a vulnerability, and a more humble tone.

Bill was basking in the afterglow of his first great success - leading Liverpool back into the first division. And he explains that he is writing these columns in order to help Liverpool supporters cope with the long summer months without football. But you can also see that he is thinking ahead (he was a brilliant strategic mind in every sense) - because he wanted to get the supporters onside, to get them to understand who he is, how he sees things, what to expect, and to know how hard he is working.

I couldn't help but be reminded about how every new manager has to overcome scepticism, and communicate his ideas to try and gain the trust of the supporters.

He talks about when he first came to Anfield, when he examined the facilities at Melwood, how he decided to accept the offer of managing us. What you find is the first draft of history - Shanks explaining how he came to be our manager, what happened in those early days, how he looked at things.

This is what he says about how he viewed the club after visiting Melwood:

"I want to put it on the record that my first view of it really staggered me with its potential and elated me when I considered its possibilities."




But wait a minute. Wasn't Melwood a run-down, primitive wreck of a training ground when Shanks arrived? Weren't we a lousy, pathetic joke, looked at by Evertonians as a laughable also-ran, a club that had been relegated and fallen into disrepair, both physically and spiritually?

And then you realise - this is classic Shanks. He saw a run down, second rate, broken-backed facility, and rather than despairing, saw 'potential' and became elated with its 'possibilities'

This is what Shanks did. He transformed us not only in real terms - his main achievement was psychological. Instead of despair, he saw possibility. Instead of complaint, he became elated for the hope and opportunity to improve. This is Shanks at his instinctive best - full of belief, in himself, but most of all, belief in Liverpool FC.

You see, a man is only arrogant when his belief is self-centred. Shanks was never arrogant, because his words were not to elevate himself, his words of confidence were in praise of an object other than himself - Liverpool FC. Every single quotation of his, that seems to be loaded with arrogance, is actually a prayer of humility towards something other than himself. It wasn't his ego that Shankly's witty, brilliant, granite words of swaggering confidence were serving - it was the advancement of Liverpool FC, and the enhancement of the dreams of supporters that he was a disciple of.

We think of Shanks as our messiah, our guru.

But this is wrong.

Liverpool FC and we were his messiah, his guru. As much as he resurrected us, we resurrected him.



Just some words from the first column. The truth is I could type out lots, but this talks about the risks he knew he was undertaking when he decided to accept the offer to manage us. Yes, it does remind us that expectation was ever thus, and makes us think of Brendan and the challenge he faces today. But just think of how thoughtful he is, how everything he achieved, including the persona he projected outwards, was all about communicating his philosophy and will to life to the supporters of Liverpool - and to do so in his own sensitive, careful words.

"I realised that although that this was a challenge which everything within me urged me to take up, nevertheless it was a gamble as Liverpool supporters would only accept one thing - success.

I was, at that time, leading as peaceful a life as any football manager can lead in the comparatively sheltered calm of Huddersfield.

Was I to step out of this into the cauldron-like atmosphere of Anfield to undertake a task which, however much I put into it, could end in failure?

Nobody can guarantee success and certainly not quick success, yet it seemed to me that the latter was being demanded and therefore the risk was doubled....

.....From what I had heard and seen, I decided that even if the risk I was taking was great, it was nevertheless a calculated risk because I am an ambitious man and I knew that the Liverpool club and its supporters were ambitious too. We were therefore sharing a mutual feeling."


The only criticism of this book I can make is that, as far as I can tell, it is only available on Kindle.

This is a crying shame, and I hope that a paperback edition would come out soon, because as brilliant as Kindle is, the truth is that as yet not everybody has one and so a lot of people who would otherwise be ideal readers for this book are marginalised from it.

It would make a perfect Christmas present, and its a shame that its not available so that it can be given to grandfathers, fathers, grandmas, aunties, uncles, sons and daughters and mums.

This book is a simple pleasure - the unedited words of Bill Shankly before he was truly great, on the cusp of becoming an eternal legend, his intimate thoughts full of sympathy for our aspirations yet full of humility and determination to achieve greatness written half a century ago in the aftermath of his first step to resurrecting Liverpool FC by gaining us promotion.

After this, things would never be the same again. This book takes us into his mind and allows us to experience his intimate voice at that moment.

For Liverpool supporters, its like getting a commentary from God just at the point at which the big bang and the creation of the universe was taking place.



The greatest.


« Last Edit: September 1, 2013, 12:16:37 PM by The 92A »
"My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in."

Offline Stussy

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Re: book review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2012, 03:22:46 PM »

Link to Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/SHANKLY-HARD-ROAD-BACK-ebook/dp/B008Z01AYW/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351163846&sr=1-3#reader_B008Z01AYW

Such a shame this only seems to be available on Kindle. Hopefully demand can be encouraged so that a paperback version can be published.

"My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in."

Offline gods_left_peg

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Re: book review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 08:34:48 PM »
Link to Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/SHANKLY-HARD-ROAD-BACK-ebook/dp/B008Z01AYW/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351163846&sr=1-3#reader_B008Z01AYW

Such a shame this only seems to be available on Kindle. Hopefully demand can be encouraged so that a paperback version can be published.

Looks like its been released in paper back. It really is a brilliant read:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shankly-Lost-Diary-Sport-Media/dp/190869551X
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 08:38:08 PM by gods_left_peg »
“This club will always be the most important thing for ­millions of fans all over the world, just like Everton are the most important club to some people." - King Kenny

Offline Bakez0151

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Re: book review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 08:51:35 PM »
think ill be purchasing this, skipped under my radar

Offline vicgill

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Re: Book Review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 04:48:33 PM »
think ill be purchasing this, skipped under my radar

Looks like you are not alone
"Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and making yourself available to receive a pass, it is really that simple"

"Friend, mourn not, though he premature departs, his wisdom marches on within our hearts"
  
RIP Ray Osbourne, comrade, epic swindler, and Internet Terrorist Extraordinaire.

Offline Stussy

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Re: Book Review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #5 on: September 1, 2013, 01:13:24 AM »


Seeing as its Shank's birthday I'm bumping this book review of mine  :thumbup
"My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in."

Offline John C

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Re: Book Review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #6 on: September 1, 2013, 01:23:07 AM »
Stussy, as its by you I'll give it a read it tomorrow, I don't know why I haven't already.

What strikes me recently and in you're thread is the quality of the photographs. 

royhendo

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Re: #SHANKLY100 Book Review: Bill Shankly - The Hard Road Back
« Reply #7 on: September 1, 2013, 12:18:31 PM »

Seeing as its Shank's birthday I'm bumping this book review of mine  :thumbup

Ta Sir! :)