Manager - Huddersfield

10th December 1955 - 1st December 1959

Shankly's initial interest in a position at Huddersfield was fuelled by his connection with their manager Andy Beattie. Shankly and Beattie had played together at Preston and had remained friends so when, in 1955, Beattie had approached Shankly, with a view to asking him to help out at Leeds Road, Shankly accepted. His initial position at the club was as coach to a reserve team that included several promising youngsters.

The improvement in the fortunes of the reserves was in direct comparison to that of the first team who were promptly relegated from the first division. Thus, in season 56-67 several of Shankly's reserve side found themselves in the first team as Huddersfield adapted to life in the second division. On 5th November 1956, Shankly became first team manager after Beattie resigned his post and on Christmas Eve 1956, he gave a full first team debut to one of the rising stars of the club, 16 year old Denis Law.

Future superstar, Denis Law, signing for Huddersfield

During his time at Huddersfield, Bill took part in a kickabout every Sunday with the locals on a field in Crosland Road near where he was living. He would play whatever the weather and would go in as hard on a ten year old boy as he would on a grown man, never holding back or altering his style for anyone!

Shankly became increasingly frustrated at the lack of ambition shown by his board of directors. They were constantly urging him to sell his best players (Ray Wilson was sold, and Matt Busby was keen on Law), whilst at the same time failing to sanction the purchase of any possible replacements. In November 1959, T.V. Williams, Chairman of Liverpool, offered him the Liverpool job, and after 13 years in management, much of it at basement level, Bill Shankly had found a club that shared his own ambitions about the game and were prepared to give him full backing to achieve them.

On leaving Hudderfield to become Liverpool's manager, Shankly told his players: 'I'm going to a place where they live, eat sleep and drink football. And that's my place.'

Managerial Record:

League Matches: 129
Won: 49
Drawn: 33
Lost: 47

1956/57: 12th in Division 2
1957/58: 9th in Division 2
1958/59: 14th in Division 2
1959/60: resigned on 1st December 1959

Shanks quote

Throughout the next couple of years, whereas you state that Bill visited Bellefield, which is at the other end of Sandforth Close, he was a very, very frequent visitor to our school. He was given permission by the headmaster to use the school's facilities, which were at the time light years ahead of any other school in the city, and we became almost blase about seeing Bill as we went to the gym, the baths, the weights room or elsewhere. One day during a spring half-term holiday along with the rest of the school cross-country squad I turned up at the school at around 9.30, to find a game of football going on in the playground. Some local boys were playing there along with a couple of my teammates. Obviously I joined in and only then noticed a short haired older man, not resembling any of the teachers. When the ball went into play it was obvious that Shanks was playing too. I had died and was playing in heaven, and to make things better Bill was on my side. He spoke, you listened. He coached and you did as he said. And it worked, too. I have never played as well, and even when it was my turn to go in goal I performed out of my skin. A cross came over and I reached as high as I could and somehow managed to trap the ball against the 'bar', which was the underside of pillared shed some six foot or so off the ground. One of the other side charged into me. Not prepared to let down my side, most of all Shanks, I struggle to stop the ball from falling over the line. From nowhere Shanks arrived and saved the day. Pushing the boy away he took the ball out of my hands and congratulated me on a good save. He spotted the ball and took the free kick he had awarded himself. As the play developed up the yard he turned back to me and asked if I was OK. I stammered that I was and took a hefty pat of encouragement on my shoulders.

Bill said, "You're doing well, son", smiled and looked at me playing football in my athletics kit. He cocked his head to the side and told me "Aye, you've got footballer's legs." The ultimate hero had just paid me the ultimate compliment a 14 year old could receive. I was in ecstacy (as I am now writing this and remembering how good I felt for months afterwards).

Gerry Crute

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