King George shakes the hand of royalty.
Winning the FA Cup in 1938 was undoubtedly the highlight of Shankly's playing career.
"When the whistle blows at Wembley and you've played in a final and you've won, that's the greatest thrill of your life. No doubt about that. I thanked God for that. That feeling is unbelievable." - Shankly
In the late '30s, Preston North End were emerging as one of the best teams in the land. They had been to the F.A. Cup Final in 1937 and lost to a very good Sunderland side, and at the end of season 37-38, they were pipped for the title by Arsenal. However, in May 1938, they found themselves back at Wembley and up for another shot at winning the F.A. Cup. In contrast, their opponents at Wembley, Huddersfield, were struggling, and had finished the season in 19th place in Division 1.
The match, the first cup final to be broadcast live on television in it's entirety (there were an estimated 10,000 viewers watching on television), was a disappointment. After 90 minutes the game was goalless. Extra time was then played (another first for a Wembley cup final) and the tireless efforts of Shankly made Preston the likelier side to break the deadlock.
In the last minute of extra time, Shankly put George Mutch through on goal and the Huddersfield centre back and skipper Alf Young, who had been having an inspired afternoon, pulled Mutch down just inside the box. The referee gave a penalty, although for years afterwards the debate rumbled on about whether the incident had taken place inside or outside the box.
Surprisingly, the normally ice cool penalty taker Shankly refused to take the spot kick, leaving the responsibility to the still shaken George Mutch, who picked himself up, dusted himself down and smashed the kick home off the underside of the crossbar.
"I played in three Cup finals - 1937, 1938 and 1941.
There was only one good player on the field. That was me!"
Preston North End: 1
Mutch (120 pen)
Huddersfield Town: 0
On 12 July 1974 I was at school in Sandfield Park, right next to Bill and Nessie Shankly's house. When the rumour spread that Our Messiah had retired incredulity, denial, fear, and a whole host of other emotions ran unchecked through the classrooms. At the end of the day, a day of media frenzy, a group left St Edward's College, walked through the Park and climbed over the wall at the end of Sandforth Close and walked on up to Bill's purple front door. Wearing blazers to match, and summoning every ounce of courage, the bravest of our group knocked at the door.
Nessie answered and was asked "Is Bill there, please?" by the 12 year-olds assembled. The great man came out.
"Have you retired, Bill?"
"Aye, son. I have."
"Aah, eh, Bill."
"Aah don't. Please, Bill."
"Aah, I'm sorry son."
And the moment ended with Bill signing his autograph on all manner of paper, though not our exercise books or we would all have been in trouble with masters at our rugby playing school who simply wouldn't have understood the significance."