The village team was Glenbuck Cherrypickers who had rooted itself firmly in the fabric of Scottish football history, but by the time Bill was old enough and good enough to force his way into the team, the recession of the 1930s was taking hold and many of the men of the village were leaving to find work. The Cherrypickers folded, without Bill ever having played a first team game for them, and instead, he signed for another local team, Cronberry Eglinton as a right-half.
Cronberry Eglinton were founder members of the Ayrshire Junior Football Association in 1889. District Leagues were set up in the first decade of the 20th century with Cronberry in the Cumnock & District League and mentioned by one source as "the top side at that time", dominating up until the first world war.
Though no definitive records of this time exist, legend has it that Cronberry were unbeaten at home for ten years between 1904-14, partly due to home fans letting the opposing keeper know what his fate would be if he didn't let in a few goals!
They won the Mauchline Cup in 1918, closed down for a season then joined the Cumnock & Mauchline league in 1919, then the re-formed Cumnock & District after that. They won the Ayrshire Cup for the only time in their history in 1930, having actually lost the final, but through a successful protest that their opponents had given a false name for one of their players.
18-year-old Bill Shankly's performances in the 1931-32 season were so impressive, he took the eye of several of the many scouts who regularly combed the area for football talent.
After half a season he was on his way.
Sadly, a lot of junior and senior teams were to go under in the 1930s as the pits closed and the global pre-war recession hit Scotland hard. Teams like the Glenbuck Cherrypickers and Cronberry Eglinton simply ceased to exist after the resumption of organised football at the end of the war.
"We were staying and playing in Belgium one time, and this night Chris Lawler and I had gone to a casino just opposite the hotel but the rest of the lads had gone down to the village for a drink after the game. At twelve o'clock Shanks stormed into the casino and dragged us back to the hotel. We knew he was in a foul mood, and we were up in our rooms, looking down the road, when we heard the rest of them coming back.. there was Gerry Byrne, Roger Hunt, Geoff Strong, Tommy Lawrence, Gordon Milne, all singing and kicking a few beer cans along, that sort of thing. There was a small playground in front of the hotel and they were mucking about on the swings. We knew Shanks was waiting downstairs, so we tried to tell them to quieten it a bit, but they didn't pay any attention. Too far gone for that! It was about half-past one, and they came falling into the lobby, shouting and bawling, and Shanks was so flabbergasted he didn't know what to do or where to start, and of all people he picks on Cally. 'You, Callaghan... ', he says, and you can see he's reaching for the right thing to say. 'You... I'm going to tell your wife on you!' Everybody just collapsed!"