1932 - 1933
Young Shankly at Cronberry was attracting interest from the Football League. Two scouts, Peter Carruthers of Carlisle and Bobby Crawford of Preston, followed his progress. Bill's uncle, Billy Blyth, was a director at Carlisle United and this family connection undoubtedly helped Bill make the decision to go to Brunton Park. Preston were a division higher and Bill thought it best to make a start in professional football a rung lower down the ladder in Third Division North, earning £4 per week.
By the time Christmas 1932 had come round, Shankly was already forcing his way into the Carlisle first team. His displays as a hard running, gritty right-half, brought him much praise and credit and he was earmarked as a key young player capable of taking Carlisle on to greater things.
So dedicated to the game was Shankly, that during the summer of 1933, after completing his first season as a pro, he returned to Glenbuck where he continued to do his own training. Being an early exponent of the long throw-in he would practice by throwing balls over a row of houses and getting the small boys of the village to fetch them back for him.
Carlisle were struggling at the time and following Shankly's impressive debut season Preston came in for him again. Whilst in Glenbuck he received a telegram from Carlisle, which read, "Report to discuss transfer to Preston North End." After initially rejecting Preston's advances, Bill signed for Preston in a railway carriage just outside Haltwhistle.
"Carlisle was only a stepping stone. I knew I was going further than that. At the end of the season I was paid four pounds ten shillings a week, which was good, because the top rate in English football then was eight pounds. I was much better off than the coalminer for doing something in the fresh air that I would have done for nothing."
Debut: Dec 31st 1932 v Rochdale (2-2)
I got caught up in an amazing post-match row after the Albion game which took place at Maine Road. We were all disappointed at the end of the match and sitting in the dressing-room when a knock came on the door. A policeman was standing there and he said: 'I want to see number four.' One of the lads said: 'You're wanted, Smithy. There's a policeman asking for you outside.' I had a cousin called Lawrie who was in the force. I assumed it was him and went towards the door. Standing there, helmet under his arm, bike leaning against the corridor wall, was a large constable. He immediately cautioned me, saying: 'At around 9.15 pm this evening, you were heard to shout: 'Chris, give me the fucking ball!' I thought he was joking and said: 'It's a good job you were not in earshot when they scored their second goal.' The pedantic PC clearly didn't see the funny side. He said: 'I'm arresting you for using abusive language.'
I shouted for Bill Shankly who came out and said: 'What's going on?' 'Who are you?', said the constable to the most famous manager in football. 'I'm the manager of this football team', said Shanks, clearly getting agitated. 'Are you in charge of Tommy Smith?', said the constable. I've just arrested him.' 'You've what?', roared the boss. The fact that the PC was in blue didn't help. When he started to repeat this business about me swearing, Shanks went into a rage. 'You better listen to me. If you don't fuck off, I'll let the tyres down on your bike.'"