Author Topic: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome  (Read 4117 times)

Offline Aristotle

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#SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« on: July 13, 2013, 08:52:07 PM »
History is full of great people who are ladened with accomplishments, praise and achievements. The things they did are things we take for granted and things we are all too willing to grant them all the credit for. The pharaoes built the pyramids, even though none of them lifted a single stone. The Great Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his wife, not his workfroce. It was Ceasar, not the 40.000 legionaries who crossed the Rhine. We have a tendancy to put the overwhelming glory on the hands of a single figure. It only feels right, given how history remembers them.

Few however can give claim to such a legacy as Bill Shankly. Having, virtually, single-handedly built an empire, make no mistake about it. Bill Shankly is every bit the great man history remembers him. Not being born of a royal house or wealthy ancestors Shankly couldn't afford a life of luxury. His greatness was his own doing. I'll not overstep my reach and go into his life before Liverpool. Others have done that more often and far better than I would ever dream of. But I will try and pay tribute to his Liverpool legend instead.


His love affair of Liverpool almost never happened. In the year 1951 Bill Shankly, in a bizarre twist of fate, turned down the offer to become Liverpool's manager. His reasons were that he felt he wouldn't be allowed to stamp his own authority on the team. He instead turned elsewhere to perfecting his technique, tactics and his own brand of sports psychology. Assets that defined him and his managerial style. So ahead of it's time was his method that today's managers still haven't caught up.

Bill Shankly eventually became Liverpool's manager in December 1959. It was the start of something extraordinary that still echoes through the ages, albeit sadly not on golden coinage. That isn't to say that it was a linear happenings of pure excellence. Having been stuck in the second division for 5 years things could easily have been better. The conditions at Melwood looked like the aftermath of a Michael Bay movie. But ever the visionary Shankly didn't let such things stop him. Shankly had success in his head already and a plan to achieve it. Now it was the rest of the world that had to follow. He brought about new training methods as Tommy Lawrence recollects:
Quote
"In pre-season you got in an at Anfield and you then put a pair of trainers on. They weren’t like trainers like you have today for running on the roads. They were pumps. You need to run from Anfield to Melwood. Around Melwood three or four times and then run all the way back. Roger Hunt and I used to travel with the train from Warrington and after about three days, we couldn’t even go down the steps, the backs of our calves were just gone. As soon as Shanks came he just changed it. ‘You play on grass and you will train on grass.’ And that was it.

Liverpool legend Ronnie Moran was equally praising of the big man citing "I learned more in the first three months than I'd done in the seven years that I'd been a pro. I wish I'd been five years younger."

Shankly's motto of "You play on grass and you will train on grass" transferred to Melwood which went under drastic reconstruction

Shameless Google search tells me that this picture is from Melwood in 1959

Things were on the up and it was down to Shankly's determination, dedication and hard work. However his relationship with the board was less than perfect at the time as Shankly wanted investment to match his ambitions.  Having hounded the board of directors to the point of handing in his resignation, Shankly finally got the players he wanted. Ron Yeats and Ian St. John were signed in the summer of 1961. Shankly said of them, in typical confidence, "You sack me if they can't play. I'm telling you now, I'll stake my life on it." He wasn't wrong and in the 1961/1962 season Liverpool won the second division. Back to the first division they went with Shankly at the helm. Aforementioned St. John recalls the time later on with fondness. Saying that "the most successful thing we did and I’ll say this always, was winning the Second Division." And how right he is. Shankly's first undeniable accomplishment was there. As St. John said "without that nothing else would have happened, because we couldn’t progress without winning it." Furthermore calling it "the best season I remember at Liverpool Football Club." The man responsible for it all was to him Bill Shankly. Noting the incredible transformation under his command; "[Shankly] was building a team. When I first came to the club in '61 we had one international who was then Ian St John. Three years later we had 14 internationals. That’s the progress we were making".

Nothing if not ambitious Shankly had barely celebrated winning the league when he set his mark on the next objective. Using his own words, as one gets so very tempted to with Shankly:
Quote from: Bill Shankly
When we won promotion to the First Division I went to a shareholders' meeting and they were so thrilled about it that they presented us with cigarette boxes. I told them, 'We got promotion, but you don't think that is satisfactory, do you?' Next time we come back here for presents we will have won the Big League, the First Division.

However Shankly faced an annoying problem in the form of Liverpool's Merseyside rivals, Everton. The Blues had been crowned league champions as Shankly's Liverpool finished 8th in his first top flight season. Never being content Shankly realised that in order to be the top dog in the land, he first needed to become the top dog on Merseyside. Testament to the man himself, being a man of his words, Liverpool were crowned league champions in April of 1964, following a 5-0 beating of Arsenal. Liverpool's first since 1947's and more importantly, Shankly's first league title.


Liverpool players toast in champagne to try and repress the memory of having to wear such short shorts


What followed next was a disappointing 7th league finish but an impressive European Cup run that saw the club play its first ever European game. The reds travelled to Iceland [ 8) ] before venturing forward to the minnows of football in Belgium, Germany and finally Italy. Reaching the semi-final where Liverpool were knocked out by Inter Milan following a highly dodgy match at the San Siro.

Nevertheless it was a season for the history books. Two things happened in that season that have since become synonymus with Liverpool Football Club: The former being the famous all-red Liverpool kit; the second being cup success. For both I shall retire and let the great man once again tell his own tale.
Quote from: Bill Shankly
Our game against Anderlecht at Anfield was a night of milestones. We wore the all red strip for the first time. Christ, the players looked like giants. And we played like giants. We used to play in white shorts with red stripes, white stockings with red tops and white piping on the jerseys. But we switched to all red and it was fantastic. The introduction of the all scarlet strip had a huge psychological effect. I went home that night and I said to Ness: "You know something... tonight I went out onto Anfield and for the first time there was a glow like a fire was burning."
The rest, as they say, is history

The aforementioned significant event was reaching the FA Cup final, for only the third time in the club's history. Having lost the previous two Shankly was determined to make things right.
Quote from: Bill Shankly
It was a wet day, raining and splashing, and my shoes and pants were covered in white from the chalk off the pitch as I walked up to the end of the ground where our supporters were massed. We had beaten Leeds United and our players had the arena, but I took off my coat and went to the supporters because they had got the Cup for the first time. Grown men were crying and it was the greatest feeling any human being could have to see what we had done. There have been many proud moments. Wonderful, fantastic moments. But that was the greatest day.

Next season the now mighty Reds won the league and made it all the way to European Cup Winners' Cup but lost to Borussia Dortmund following a Ron Yeats own goal in extra time. It was a great learning experience for both Shankly and his right hand man, some fella named Bob Paisley. The mantra of containing the opposition away and attacking at home later saw the club pick up European silverware but for now little was accomplished in that department. The club had enjoyed incredible success and were playing an amazing brand of football but in the end coming up short. Never finishing lower than 5th and making it into semi-finals, the signs for winning were there but simply out of reach. For us younger readers, we have witnessed this syndrome in its evolved form, called "Arsenalitis". But this was in an era before they started giving "top 4" trophies away in the Sky Sports studio.


But I shall not stick too closely to that for, after all Liverpool Football Club is all about winning. "If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing" [who didn't see that one coming! ;D]

As aforementioned Shankly's Reds were in a lull. No silverware from 1966 to 1973 (albeit with a minor consolation of Shankly's only undefeated season at Anfield coming in '70/'71) meant that a restructuring needed to take place. The shock to the system that launched the resurgence - and an era of unparalleled success in the English game - was the loss to 2nd division side Watford in early 1970. That was the moment that Shankly realised that he'd been too reliant on the old guard. Not willing to replace them as swiftly as he possibly should have. Having one particularly shrewd signing in the form of Emlyn Hughes that more than balanced the less successful ones in the long run, changes were needed. Out went St. John, Yeats, Hunt and Lawrence. In their place came minnows Ray Clemence, John Toschack and Steve Highway. Following the injection of fresh talent Shankly again reached the FA Cup final but lost out to recently crowned champions, Arsenal.

What followed that day was one of football's most memorable and iconic moments.
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/Uc_XSdOLFSU?version=3" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/Uc_XSdOLFSU?version=3</a>
Can't find the entire thing

Quote from: Bill Shankly
Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday at Wembley we may have lost the Cup, but you the people have won everything.. you have conquered.... [applause] You have won over the policemen in London. You won over the London public, and it's questionable if chairman Mao of China could have arranged such a show of strength as you have shown yesterday and today.


For Shankly that time was also important as in the midst of preparing for the cup final a transfer was made. The following summer a new face appeared before the Kop. A talented "diamond in the rough" by the name of Kevin Keegan. I tried coming up with something but I don't think it will ever beat this thread. His departure from the club and his replacement mean that Keegan's legacy is somewhat downtrodden. Understandable as it is, I'll just end it on this snippet to sum up Kevin Keegan's impact. Frankly because I can.
When we signed Keegan we were a domestic force. When Keegan left us we were a European powerhouse.


The boss with "the inspiration of the new team"

Shankly signed a new 3 year contract with Liverpool in August 1971. Unbeknownst and unthinkable to the supporters, who worshipped the very ground he walked upon - it would prove to be his last for the club.

Missing out on the league championship in the last match of the '71/'72 season, in the most unfortunate of circumstances, was a disappointment to Shankly and the boys. However it would prove to be the end of Liverpool's hoodoo. The following season the Reds were unstoppable. After 7 years without the championship the league was clinched in a 2-0 win against Leeds at Anfield. The boss quipped, in trademark fashion.
Quote from: Bill Shankly
I think we can call ourselves champions now. I'm delighted for the players, for the club, and especially for the fans, who have again proved themselves the greatest in the world.

A month later came the umpteenth "first" for Liverpool under Shankly's tutelage. The UEFA Cup was secured following a 3-2 aggregrate win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. 'The Liverpool groove' had finally replaced the 'Merseybeat' as Liverpool's leading export.


Shankly with the UEFA Cup
It was a season for the history books and Shankly took great pride in his achievements. It was his third championship as Liverpool manager and as a result Liverpool pulled alongside Arsenal (with 8 titles) as the most successive club in English football. As with any great occasion, temptation to let the big man speak for himself proves too much.
Quote from: Bill Shankly
[Winning the Championship was] the happiest day of my life. I have known nothing like it as player or manager. This title gave me greater pleasure than the previous two, simply because here we had a rebuilt side, some of them only two or three seasons in first-team football and they stayed the course like veterans. I wanted that title more than at any time in my life. That's why it is such a relief.

Shankly was subsequently voted manager of the year - for the only time in his career!

The 1973/1974 season turned out to be Shankly's last. Leeds were crowned league champions and elimination at the hands of Red Star Belgrad in the European cup would normally have put a dampener on the season were it not for one of the most one-sided cup finals in history as Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-0 at Wembley. A score which unbelievably enough, flattered the losing side much more than the victors. Shankly's Reds did what Michels' Oranje couldn't. They displayed breathtaking "total football" and they came away with the silverware.


Phil Thompson's outfit puts the infamous cream suit debacle to shame


It was then in July of 1974 that Shankly announced he was leaving Liverpool Football Club. I have spoken to many a red who never fully recovered from that. One claimed he remembered it as clearly as the day Kennedy was shot, only more traumatising. For football is of course a game of feelings and emotions. Shankly's replacement was his right-hand man, Bob Paisley. In typical fashion Shankly had faith in his man and of 'Sir Bob' he said:
Quote from: Bill Shankly
In my place you have a man, who, like me, is basically honest. Without having basic honesty you are nothing. I hope that Liverpool will be successful for a long time to come and that Bob Paisley and his staff will do a great job. He's been a very loyal man to me. When I decided to go I said to the chairman he should be very careful about bringing somebody in from outside the club, because there is a very capable staff inside who, over a 14-year period, have laid down a system and pattern of playing which some Fancy Dan might come along and break up with fancy phrases. Bob Paisley, of course, is the number one man - so I recommended him.


It might not be the Olympic torch. But at Liverpool there was no greater honour

Of his mentor Paisley gave the highest praise and summed up his character in typical fashion, light-heartedly and to the point:
Quote from: Bob Paisley
One man transformed Liverpool from a run-of-the-mill Second Division team into the greatest team in the world. That man, of course, was Bill Shankly. His philosophy was simple; If you are going to to play football, you play to win. While he was the making of Liverpool, there is no doubt that Anfield was the making of Bill Shankly. His character, his own enthusiasm, his will to win were so infectious.

For me Paisley's words sum it up. Liverpool Football Club owes everything Shankly. He got us to where we are. He made us who we are. He made us how we are, even to this day because Shankly made it so. That's why I'll be eternally greatful to the one, the only


Bill "Boss as fuck" Shankly
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 06:30:02 PM by Aristotle »
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Offline "Albie Home For Christmas!" (via the 92A bus)

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 09:25:38 PM »
A little treat for Rawkites in our #SHANKLY100 series from Aristotle. Enjoy.
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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 10:05:55 PM »
And enjoyed it I did. :)

Thanks!
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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 10:37:12 PM »
I am loving these! Keep 'em coming.......
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Offline mccoyciaran

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 10:48:01 PM »
Thoroughly enjoyed that. A great read. 

Offline Harinder

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 11:27:15 PM »
Loved this. Fitting tribute to the man who made us
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Offline Gifted Right Foot

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 11:34:43 PM »
Just sat down with a cuppa and this is the first thing i saw when i clicked on the site.  Brilliant tribute.  Really enjoyed that.  Thanks.

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 07:14:29 AM »
Spoiled for choice today. Thanks Aristotle. Really looking forward to sitting down and reading the finished piece.
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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 08:00:33 PM »
Even better second time around. Really is a cracking read and the photo's accompany the words perfectly.

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 11:55:09 PM »
Great tribute to him. Really enjoyed it.
"And the voices of the standing Kop still whispering in the wind will salute the wee Scots redman and he will still walk on.
And your money will have bought you nothing."

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2013, 11:05:51 PM »
I finally got round to reading this.  I really enjoyed it too, and the diversion to Yorky's Keegan thread.

 :wellin

Offline Aristotle

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Re: #SHANKLY100 - All Roads Lead To Rome
« Reply #11 on: September 1, 2013, 03:51:34 PM »
Big man, where are we on the table?

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