Carlisle United

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."

Playing statistics:
Debut: Dec 31st 1932 v Rochdale (2-2)
Games: 16
Goals: 0

Shanks quote

"We were getting beat 2-1 and laying siege to the Hammers' goal in the closing minutes. Bill Shankly clearly thought we were not going to score and headed from the stand down towards the dressing room, anticipating the final whistle. Then Kevin Keegan scored, literally with the last kick of the match. The boss heard the roar, but assumed it was the referee calling a halt to the proceedings. We all trooped into the dressing room, delighted to have secured a last-gap point. Shanks was already in there and looking exceedingly annoyed. He looked at the bubbly mood of the lads and started to have a go. He must have thought: 'Bastards! They've lost and they're all smiling.'

He started to say: 'You should never lose to a team like this.' Bob started to interrupt him and he looked even angrier. Then he heard Bob say: 'Bill, we've equalized in the last second. It was a draw.' Shanks' face went as red as the colour of the red tie he was wearing. He immediately said: 'Great result, lads. Fantastic. You deserved it.' We all started laughing but he couldn't see the funny side."

PHIL THOMPSON - (Shankly was not too happy with his lot in April 1974 when The Reds drew West Ham 2-2 at Upton Park).

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