"I remember seeing an American gangster film, and one of the characters said, 'Foist is foist and second is nut'n.' Then he took his gun and shot a bloke. Not many can be first in football."
Shankly was first interviewed for the Liverpool job in 1951
"In 1951, when I was the manager of Carlisle United, I got a telephone call from Liverpool and was asked if I'd like to be interviewed for the manager's job. George Kay had just resigned. I stayed in Southport on the Sunday night and went to meet the Liverpool board the next day... 'The big snag had cropped up when the Liverpool board had said the manager could put down his team for matches and the directors would scrutinize it and alter it if they wanted to. So I just said, "If I don't pick the team, what am I manager of?" And that was that.
I was just over thirty-six years old then. I had not long finished playing and I was young and fit and ambitious. Liverpool were in the First Division. They were struggling, but there were a lot of young players knocking about the game. I could have started the job eight years earlier than I did! God Almighty, what I would have done for Liverpool then! But a manager must be a manager. He is in charge of the players and the training staff. He organizes the training and the coaching, lays down the law - and picks the team. Without that he is nothing'"
Bill Shankly was the manager of Huddersfield when they beat Liverpool 5-0 at Leeds road on 4th October 1958
"We beat Liverpool 5-0 with ten men one day. Taylor damaged ligaments in the first five minutes, but that didn't stop us. I remember the Liverpool directors leaving the ground in single file with their shoulders slumped, like a funeral procession."
"One day in 1959, when Huddersfield were playing Cardiff City, Tom (T.V.) Williams, who was then chairman of Liverpool, and Harry Latham, a director, came down the slope at Leeds Road to see me.
Mr Williams said, 'How would you like to manage the best club in the country?'
'Why, is Matt Busby packing it up?' I asked."
To the press when he took over at Liverpool in 1959
"I am very pleased to and proud to have been chosen as manager of Liverpool FC, a club of such potential. It is my opinion that Liverpool have a crowd of followers which rank with the greatest in the game. They deserve success and I hope, in my own small way, I am able to do something towards to help them achieve it. I make no promises except that from the moment I take over I shall put everything into the job I so willingly undertake."
"If you'd seen Anfield when I came it was the biggest toilet in Liverpool. I had to bring water in from Oldfield Road. It cost 3,000 pounds. There was no water to flush the toilets."
"Pressure is working down the pit. Pressure is having no work at all. Pressure is trying to escape relegation on 50 shillings a week. Pressure is not the European Cup or the Championship or the Cup Final. That's the reward."
Shankly had to fight the board to get the players he wanted when he came to Liverpool
"At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques, not to make them out. We'll do that - they just sign them."
"I want to build a team that's invincible, so that they have to send a team from bloody Mars to beat us."
"If I've got players on my books, I search into them to see what they are, what they are made of, and I can tell you within a month what he is. Whether he needs to get bollocked or needs to get encouraged or he needs to be shifted altogether."
On Liverpool fans
"The word 'fantastic' has been used many times, so I would have to invent another word to fully describe the Anfield spectators. It is more than fanaticism, it's a religion. To the many thousands who come here to worship, Anfield isn't a football ground, i's a sort of shrine. These people are not simply fans, they're more like members of one extended family."
"Footballers normally train for an hour and a half, but it doesn't mean they work for an hour and half. Some might be demonstrating a function while the others are watching. And then it's your turn. It's not how long you train, but what you put into it. If you train properly, 35 minutes a day might do. We built Liverpool's training on exhaustion and recovery with little areas of two-a-side, three-a-side and five-a-side in which you work like a boxer, twisting and turning. Training was based on basic skills, control, passing, vision, awareness.
"They said we were predictable. Well, I think anybody who is unpredictable is a waste of time. Joe Louis was predictable. He would knock a man down on the floor. Goodbye! We were predictable, but the opposition couldn't stop us!"
The famous Chris Lawler story
"The only time Chris Lawler was injured was when Tommy Smith 'did' him in a five-a-side match at Melwood. We had just got the pitch levelled and Tommy, who was younger than Chris, caught him with the sole of his boot. Chris' ankle went up like a balloon, but he was only out of action for ten days.
It was around this time we were due to play Anderlecht and one day we were playing a five-a-side game and Chris, still injured was watching. The boys called Chris 'Silent Knight' because he had so little to say for himself. My team in the five-a-side was claiming a goal and I said, 'Just hold on. Chris, you were watching.' 'Yes', he said. 'Speak up, Chris,' I said, 'I can't hear you. Did you think that was a goal, Chris?' 'No, he said.' 'Good God, Chris,' I said, 'this is the first time I've heard you speak to me and you tell me a bloody lie!'"
"We were always confident, but we were never over-confident. Being cocky is a form of ignorance. It means you are talking too much and if you are guilty of that, an opponent will bring you down to earth."
"Liverpool were made for me and I was made for Liverpool, and I knew that the people who mattered most were the ones who came through the turnstiles."
"It’s the greatest thing in the world, natural enthusiasm. You are nothing without it."
"Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say... WE ARE LIVERPOOL."
"After all the training was complete on Fridays, we always had a talk about the impending game. All the players and subs attended. One of the staff would have watched the opposition and would bring their report in. All I wanted to know was the formation. Was it 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or whatever. And did any of the opposing players have any little characteristics we might want to stifle? I never ever discussed the opposition at length.
The last thing you want to do is build up your opponents and frighten your own players. I always tried to have a joke up my sleeve to boost our lads and knock down the opposition. We took our football seriously, but we always tried to get a laugh out of the team talks. And I would always keep a few bombs for Saturday. I might say to the old guy on the Anfield door: 'Here's a box of toilet rolls. Hand them to the opposition when they come through the door.'"
Liverpool wore the all-red strip for the first time on 25th of November 1964 vs Anderlecht
"Our game against Anderlecht at Anfield was a night of milestones. We wore the all red strip for the first time. Christ, the players looked like giants. And we played like giants. We used to play in white shorts with red stripes, white stockings with red tops and white piping on the jerseys. But we switched to all red and it was fantastic. The introduction of the all scarlet strip had a huge psychological effect. I went home that night and I said to Ness: "You know something... tonight I went out onto Anfield and for the first time there was a glow like a fire was burning."
Liverpool were in Milan waiting to face Inter in the second leg of the European Cup semi-final in 1965.
"But the second leg of the semi-final was not a game, it was a war. We stayed at Lake Como, and we had trouble with the church bells. It wasn't so bad until about eleven o'clock at night, when the noise of the day had ceased and there was nothing to hear but the bells. One in particular was like doomsday. Bob Paisley and I went to see the Monsignor about it. We tried to get him to stop the bells ringing for the night so the players could sleep. 'It's not very fair', I said to him through an interpreter. 'We didn't know about this noise and we've come here on the eve of the most important match in the world this year, Inter Milan versus Liverpool.' That was right, because if we had won it, we would have won the European Cup.
He was sympathetic towards us, but he said he could not do what we asked. So I said, 'Well, could you let Bob here go up and put a bandage on them and maybe kind of dull them a bit?' Crepe bandages and cotton wool! Bob was killing himself laughing. That would have been one of the funniest things Bob had ever done, one of his greatest cures as a trainer, creeping up the aisle with cotton-wool and bandages! But, we just had to put up with the noise."
Shankly was not pleased with the performance of the referee after the 3-0 loss to Inter
I was told before the game in Milan that whatever happened we would not go through to the final. I had the feeling that something was wrong politically and I believe there were some investigations later about Inter and Liverpool. We can't really prove anything but I remember being told that we would not win. It was just like a war that night. Two of the Inter goals weren't legal and I think the atmosphere affected them as well as us.
I'm not saying that if the decisions on the pitch had been right we wouldn't have lost. Perhaps we would have done. But of all the people I've seen and met that referee is the one man who haunts me. But we went close to winning the European Cup at a time when no British club had won it. Celtic became the first two years later."
Shanks in the fog - Ajax and Liverpool played in horrible conditions in Amsterdam in December 1966.
"We couldn't see see much of the game at all, sitting on the sidelines. We couldn't even see the ball. But the pressmen reported it in full. We were 2-0 down and Willie Stevenson and Geoff Strong started raiding. They were stung and went mad and tried to retrieve the game. So I went on to the pitch while the game was in progress and was walking about in the fog, and I said to Willie and Geoff, 'Christ, this is only the first game. There's another bloody game at Liverpool, so don't go and give away more goals. Let's get beat 2-0. We are not doing too bad. Take it easy.' I walked on to the pitch, talked to the players, and walked off again and the referee never saw me!'
"We lost 5-1 , but I still thought we could get through at Anfield. Candidly, I thought that at our best we might have beaten them 6-0 and I said so."
As expected, Shankly was furious after the game in Amsterdam and told the incredulous press: "We never play well against defensive teams!"
Liverpool and Ajax drew 2-2 at Anfield and he told the press: "We could have scored seven and won easily if Peter Thompson had not hit the bar in the sixth minute."
Shankly's recipe for success seemed simple on the surface, but was anything but!
"When I took a physiotherapy course before I became a manager, I learned some valuable things. Notably about the heart, the intake of food for an athlete and particularly the timing of meals before a match. I put this into use. When I came to Liverpool, I stopped the system of players having a big meal on the night before a game. I adopted the pattern of taking them away on Friday night, timing the journey to reach the hotel about 10 pm, where the players had tea, toast and honey and then straight to bed.
On the day of the match, three hours before the kick-off, they could have a steak or chicken or poached eggs. They did not have a cooked breakfast as well. It was simple diet and and the word "simple" came into most of my football thinking in training and playing as well. I ate the same sort of food all my life and I've always been a fitness fanatic. The food players had before a match is to preserve their strength, not build it up. Players find what suits them best by trial and error. If their demand fell within the limits I laid down, that was all right. I also expected them to eat properly when they were not at the club, not to eat stupid things when they were out of control. Most of them did that but I invariably knew when any of them had stepped off the rails in any way. In any case, it usually told on their performance."
"Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple."
"Fire in your belly comes from pride and passion in wearing the red shirt. We don't need to motivate players because each of them is responsible for the performance of the team as a whole. The status of Liverpool's players keeps them motivated."
"Some people may say that we are lazy, but that's fine. What's the point of tearing players to pieces? We never bothered with sand dunes and hills and roads. We trained on grass where football is played."
"Of course a player can have sexual intercourse before a match and play a blinder. But if he did it for six months, he'd be a decrepit old man. It takes the strength from the body."
"Aye I gave the wee woman a good night out. I took her to see Tranmere Rovers reserves. But it wasn't our wedding anniversary, it was her birthday. Can you see me getting married in the football season?"
Note: Journalist John Keith later commented on this story: "It was reported that Bill had taken Nessie to a football match for the first time and it was to see Tranmere. I asked him about it and he said "No, John that is utter rubbish, but I did take Nessie to watch Accrington Stanley!"
Shankly never cared for FA coaching badges
"When people ask me my credentials for being a manager or a coach I have one answer... Bill Shankly. They're my qualifications, the way I was born. And that's all the qualifications anyone needs in the game I'm in. I didn't think it was necessary to take an FA coaching course. I didn't think it was going to make me any better. If I take a course am I going to be a better man six days later because I've got a piece of paper? That's nonsense. Chamberlain came back from Germany with a piece of paper.. . the worst fucking piece of paper we've ever had!!
As manager of Liverpool I got two FA Cup winner's medals, three championships and a Second Division championship, one UEFA Cup, three Charity Shields and six Central League winner's medals... that's 16 in 15 seasons. So I'd like them [FA coaches] to come to my coaching school! I'd have probably failed some of them."
"When I've nothing better to do, I look down the league table to see how Everton are getting along."
"If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I'd pull the curtains."
"The difference between Everton and the Queen Mary is that Everton carry more passengers!"
When told he had never experienced playing in a derby
"Nonsense! I've kicked every ball, headed out every cross. I once scored a hat-trick; One was lucky, but the others were great goals."
After Everton boss Harry Catterick missed the 1971 cup semi-final vs Liverpool
"Sickness would not have kept me away from this one. If I'd been dead, I would have had them bring the casket to the ground, prop it up in the stands and cut a hole in the lid."
Shanks had been doing a victory lap when Liverpool were celebrating the title win in 1973. A policeman was picking up a fan‘s scarf which had been dropped .
"I have been over to the Kop at Anfield and was on my way back when a policeman took hold of a red scarf as it was a ragamuffin's. I told him off. 'Don't you do that,' I said. 'That's precious.'"
[Shankly then tied the scarf around his own neck and told his friends later when relating this story: 'Fancy doing that? That scarf is somebody's life.']
Prior to the 1974 Cup Final Shanks and Newcastle manager Joe Harvey were on the BBC
"On match day the BBC linked me up with Joe Harvey for a talk on television from our hotels. When Joe and I had finished our tête a tête and I was taking off the microphone harness, I said: 'Jesus Christ', Joe Harvey is beaten already and the bloody game hasn't even started.' I heard David Coleman laughing and I realized what I had said had gone over. I hadn't meant it to, because we had finished our talk."
After the FA Cup Final win vs Newcastle
"We had won the Cup and given an exhibition of football the way it should be played. I handed my raincoat to a BBC producer. 'You carry that,' I said. 'Look after it. If you don't, you will have to pay for it, and I got in Rotterdam. and the fare to Rotterdam is very expensive. Christ, you will be proud to carry Bill Shankly's coat down to the dressing room. I'll get you in the programme next season if you make a good job of it.'"
On the leaving of Liverpool
"It was the most difficult thing in the world, when I went to tell the chairman. It was like walking to the electric chair. That's the way it felt."
Bill Shankly to the awaiting TV crews and journalists for the press conference to announce he was retiring from Liverpool.
"Hold on a minute, John Wayne hasn't arrived yet."
At this historic press conference
"I was the best manager in the game and I should have won more. I didn't do anything in devious ways. I would fight you and break my wife's leg if I played against her, but I wouldn't cheat her."
Shankly had a terrible mishap couple of days after leaving Liverpool
"Two days after I finished at Anfield I injured my shoulder. In fact I nearly broke my neck. I was getting out of the bath at Anfield and I slipped and fell on the concrete. All the blood drained out of my veins."
"It's like having a overcoat hanging in a wardrobe for years and you decide you don't want it, give it to your best friend and when he's worn it for a week you want it back."
On the pressures of management
"I've been a slave to football. It follows you home, it follows you everywhere and eats into your family life. But every working man misses out on some things because of his job."
“Now I want one thing. I want loyalty. I don’t want anybody to be carrying stories about anybody else. If somebody comes to me with a story — I warn you about this — whoever you’re telling it about won’t be the one who goes. It’ll be you. You’ll go — out! I don’t care if you’ve been here 15 year [sic]. I want everybody to be loyal to each other. And to do everything you do for Liverpool Football Club. And we’ll all get together. And that will make strength . . . And maybe one day we’ll get players as well!”
When asked how he would like to be remembered
"That I've been basically honest in a game in which it is sometimes difficult to be honest. Sometimes you‘ve got to tell a little white lie to get over a little troublesome period of time. I'd like to think that I have put more into the game than I have taken out. And that I haven‘t cheated anybody, that I‘ve been working for people honestly all along the line, for the people of Liverpool who go to Anfield. I'd like to be recognised for trying to give them entertainment.
I'd played at Anfield and I knew the crowd were fantastic. I knew there was a public just waiting. So I fought the battles inside and outside. I was interested in only one thing, success for the club. And that meant success for the people. I wanted results for the club, for the love of the game, to make the people happy."
"My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Napoleon had that idea. He wanted to conquer the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in."
"A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are. In my time at Anfield we always said we had the best two teams on Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves."
Shankly hailing Liverpool's triumph in Rome in 1977 within seconds of the final whistle
"This is the greatest night in Liverpool's history. This is the result of planning, of simplicity, of how to play the game in a simple manner. I think the whole world realises that it's the way to play."
What Liverpool Football Club means to people
"Liverpool is not only a club. It's an institution. And my aim was to bring the people close to the club and the team and for them to accepted as a part of it. The effect was that wives brought their late husband's ashes to Anfield and scattered them on the pitch after saying a little prayer. That's how close the people have come to this club. When they wanted to scatter the ashes of their loved one, who wanted to be part of the club when they were dead, I said to them: 'In you come, you're welcome.' And they trooped in by the dozen.
One young boy got killed at his work and a bus load of 50 people came to Anfield one Sunday to scatter his ashes at the Kop end. It was very, very sad. Another family came with a man's ashes when the ground was frost-bound. So the groundsman had the difficult job of digging a hole in the pitch inside the Kop net. He dug it a foot down at the right-hand side of the post facing the Kop and casket containing the man's ashes were placed in it. So people not only support Liverpool when they're alive. They support them when they are dead. This is the true story of Liverpool. This is possibly why Liverpool are so great. There is no hypocrisy about it. It is sheer honesty.
Laughingly I have said, when a ball has been headed out of that particular corner of the net: 'That's the bloke in there again! He's having a blinder today.' But I wasn't trying to be funny really. I don't think we lost a goal at that end for years after the man's ashes were placed in there."
Whether Shankly is said the exact words... "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that," is maybe not exactly accurate, but he DID say when reflecting on the relationship between the Liverpool and Everton fans.
"I've seen supporters on Merseyside going to the ground together, one wearing red and white and the other blue and white, which is unusual elsewhere. You get families in Liverpool in which half support Liverpool and the other half Everton. They support rival teams but they have the same temperament and they know each other. They are unique in the sense that their rivalry is so great but there is no real aggro between them. This is quite amazing.
I am not saying they love each other. Oh, no. Football is not a matter of life and death... it's much more important than that. And it's more important to them than that. But I've never seen a fight at a derby game. Shouting and bawling... yes. But they don't fight each other. And that says a lot for them."
Shankly later said words to a similar effect in a Granada TV Studio show with prime minister Harold Wilson in April 1981 that ensured the "Life and Death"- quote's longevity. The host was Shelley Rodhe.
RODHE: What have you got out of football all these years?
SHANKLY: Everything I've got I owe to football. You only get out of the game what you put into it, Shelley. So I put in all my heart and soul, to the extent that my family suffered.
RODHE: Do you regret that at at all?
SHANKLY: I regret it very much. Somebody said: 'Football's a matter of life and death to you. I said, 'Listen it's more important than that.' And my family's suffered. They've been neglected.
RODHE: How would you do it now, if you had your time again?
SHANKLY : I don't know really. If I had the same thoughts, I'd possibly do the same again.
RODHE : So what are the qualities of a good footballer?
SHANKLY: Ability and dedication to the game. And giving people their money's worth. The players have got an obligation to the public to do that.
RODHE: You sound as if it's more of an entertainment?
SHANKLY: Well, entertainment comes second for me. Entertainment you can laugh at. I don't laugh at football.
WILSON: It's a religion too, isn't it?
SHANKLY: I think so, yes.
WILSON: A way of life.
SHANKLY: That's a good expression, Sir Harold. It is a way of life. And it's so serious that it's unbelievable. And I wonder what all the rest of the world does.
Shanks after a 0-0 draw at Anfield
'What can you do, playing against 11 goalposts?'
A scout told Shanks about a young player who he'd given a trial at Liverpool
'He has football in his blood,' the disappointed scout complained. 'You may be right,' Shanks said, 'but it hasn't reached his legs yet!'
When he was surrounded by a group of Italian journalists at an airport Shankly told the interpreter
'Just tell them that I totally disagree with whatever they're saying.'
About the "This is Anfield" plaque
"It's there to remind our lads who they're playing for, and to remind the opposition who they're playing against."
Inspecting the Hallowed Turf at Anfield
"Just look at that grass boys, it's great grass, it's professional grass.
His relationship with the fans
"I'm just one of the people who stands on the Kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It's a kind of marriage of people who like each other."
On the Kop
"Forget the Beatles and all the rest. This is the real Liverpool sound. It's real singing, and it's what the Kop is all about."
Shankly summed up Tommy Smith best
"Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried."
On Tommy Smith in the 1970-71 season. Members of the Football Writers' Association voted Frank McLintock.
"If he isn't named Footballer of the Year, football should be stopped and the men who picked any other player should be sent to the Kremlin."
"Tommy was never a young man. He always knew what he wanted. He was far older than his years even when I first put him in the team as a kid. He was 18 years old when he was born."
On Ron Yeats in 1974
"In his first season here I made him captain at Rotherham. He broke a bone in his hand that day. He was a natural to be a captain; a big man who commanded respect and his position in the centre of defence meant that he could see everything going on in front of him. A captain should be like a puppeteer, with the other players on his strings all the time."
"He was a fantastic looking man he was. I remember the first time I saw him he had a light grey suit on and his black hair. I said: 'It's Hollywood you should be going to.' He looked as if he would outclass all these film stars. Brilliant fella." - Courtesy of John Roberts.
On Bob Paisley
"Bob and I never had any rows. We didn’t have any time for that. We had to plan where we were going to keep all the cups we won."
Shankly said goodbye to Liverpool on the same day Liverpool signed Ray Kennedy
"There is no doubt Kennedy will do a good job for Liverpool. He is big, brave and strong. His signing means that we now have the greatest strength in depth that we have ever had. We are so strong that you need to have a couple of international caps to get into the reserve team. Kennedy will cause plenty of trouble to defences. He fights all the way and he was at the top of my list of my wanted men. It has been a momentous day, but his signing shows that I am not running away. Maybe it will be said that one of the last things I did at this club was a to sign a great new player."
On Gerry Byrne in 1975
"I've had many skilful men and the likes of Peter Thompson, Ian St John, Kevin Keegan and Steve Heighway were the ones who caught the eye. But the best professional of the lot was Gerry Byrne. He wasn't flashy and he wouldn't score you goals. But he was hard and skilful and gave you everything he had. More than that he was totally honest. Which is the greatest quality of all. He was a true Liverpudlian who couldn't look his fellow Scousers in the face after a game unless he'd given everything he had for 90 minutes."
On Kevin Keegan
"It was near the end of the season and we were in the 1971 FA Cup Final when we bought Kevin for £35,000. In the end it turned out to be robbery with violence, but we did not know that then. Later you could argue that Scunthorpe should have got another £100,000 after the way this boy turned out."
Shanks admired Cally
"Ian Callaghan is everything good that a man can be. No praise is too high for him. Words cannot do justice to the amount he has contributed to the game. Ian Callaghan will go down as one of the game's truly great players."
"He is a model professional, and a model human being. If there were 11 Callaghans at Anfield there would never be any need to put up a team sheet. He typifies everything that is good in football, and he has never changed. You could stake your life on Ian."
"I was born in the same county as Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns, who was not only a poet, but a philosopher, a prophet, everything, you name it. I think if he had lived until he was as old as Shakespeare or Wordsworth, I think he would possibly have been in the First Division and them in the Second Division."
"Burns was early socialist - the first was Jesus Christ of course. He didn’t think that God made people to be unequal, he thought everyone should share in the work and the rewards."
"If you've got three Scots in your side, you've got a chance of winning something. If you've got any more, you're in trouble."
Dressing for the Queen when he received his OBE
"I'm looking forward to going to Buckingham Palace to receive my award from the Queen. But it's not necessary to wear top hat and tails, you know. When Frankie Vaughan went he wore a dark suit and waistcoat. That's good enough for me. As long as it's within the rules I'll have a minimum of pomp."
"The socialism I believe in is not really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day."
On his brothers
"All the boys became professional footballers and once, when we were all at our peaks, we could have beaten any five brothers in the world."
A number of quotes are from Shankly by Bill Shankly (1977) and Barry Murray's double album 'Shankly on Soccer. Vol.1' as well as numerous press articles and interviews
"Shanks had a knack of making his players feel special. One night before a particularly big match he phoned my wife and told her to lock me away on my own all night. He said that sex was out of the question because he wanted his most vital player at his peak the next day. I felt ten feet tall, until I found the next day that Shanks had also rung up Ian St John’s and Roger Hunt’s wives and told them exactly the same thing!"