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 know Ali got "Personality of the Century", but Shanks will always be number one in my book. My father was converted to the red faith (from Glasgow Rangers) in the mid 1960's by the power of this man. Can I share a story with you. My late Grandfather was a Liverpool fan all his life. Upon his retirement from the Docks in the late 1960's, he received his season ticket. He was shocked to find that the club had moved from his regular seat to one where he wasn't near the people he'd sat with for years, and where he'd get wet when it rained. My uncle took him to Anfield to try and get his old seat back. He explained he had just retired after working down the docks as man and boy. The people in the ticket office were completely unsympathetic, telling him that his seat was no longer available.
On leaving the office, he noticed Shanks walking in. "Bill, Bill" shouted by Grandfather, and the Great Man came over. My Grandfather explained the situation about his retirement, his time down the docks (working every night during the blitz) and a lifetime as a Liverpool fan. Shanks told him not to worry, to hang on and he'd sort it out. Five minutes later Shanks reappeared with the season ticket for my Grandfather's seat, and said ‚If you have any bother ever again, ask for me.‘ The man will always be number one in my book.