6th January 1954 - 15th November 1955
"Workington threw out a challenge to me. They were struggling at the bottom of the Third Division North and were threatened with extinction. There was only one man they thought could save them and that was me, so they offered me a bonus if I saved them."
Shankly had undoubtedly taken a step down the football ladder on leaving Grimsby for Workington. The fact that he had walked out on two clubs, without actually winning anything tangible, meant that he was still to make an impression in the boardrooms of the wealthy senior clubs. Still, being the man he was, he attacked the Workington job with all the enthusiasm and relish he always showed at whatever he did.
Billy Watson groundsman and Shankly remember the Workington days
(uploaded by BULLFROGBUZZ)
The biggest problem Bill had on arrival at Borough Park was the fact that the town's rugby league team shared the playing surface with the football team. The pitch, owned by the football club, was leased out to the rugby side and provided vital income for the club. There was, however, a conflict of interests over the standard and condition of the grass, Shanks preferring a shorter cut and wider pitch boundary to that favoured by Gus Risman's rugby players.
Workington had only been a league side for two years and had had to apply for re-election at the end of both seasons. At the end of the 53-54 season, Shankly had lifted them to 20th position, 6 points clear of re-election. Gates had risen from 6,000 to 8,000. Playing a delightful brand of football, Workington were transformed.
Season 1953-54 saw them finish a creditable 8th in the old Third Division North. A wee cup run which saw them beat a strong Orient side against the odds also lifted morale at the club. By now, Shankly had recharged the batteries that had run so low after his experiences at Grimsby and he was looking to step up the managerial ladder again. The realisation, also, that Workington's ambitions were restrained by a chronic financial straitjacket meant there was no real future for him at the club. When he heard his old colleague from his Preston days, Andy Beattie was in trouble at Huddersfield, he was only too glad to tend his resignation at Workington to go and help him out.
League Matches: 85
1953/54: 18th in Divison 3 North
1954/55: 8th in Division 3 North
1955/56: resigned on 15th November 1955
"He arranged personal interviews with all the players. He started with our goalkeeper, Tommy Lawrence, who went into Bill's office at one o'clock and emerged at 2.15. Because I wore the No. 11 shirt, by the time he'd seen the rest of the team, position by position, it was five o'clock when my turn came. To be honest, I was playing well, so I wasn't too worried. But, to my amazement, he said, 'Son, you're smoking yourself to death!' I said: 'I don't smoke, boss.' He just carried on and added: 'You've been on the town with women in nightclubs, every night a different woman.'
I tried to explain I didn't do that sort of thing. But he kept going on and then said: 'I know exactly what you do. You're drinking yourself to death. I've heard from sources on town that you're practically an alcoholic!' I insisted; 'Boss, I don't do anything like that!' Shanks replied;' Well, son the way you're playing at the moment you're doing all of those things and plenty of other things I can't find out about!'"
PETER THOMPSON - Liverpool 1963-1974 (Shanks read everybody the "riot act" when the team was not getting results.)