The Shankly effect

FRANK MCGHEE - Journalist
"I've resented how sometimes he's been turned into something of a clown. He was never a clown. He was a very funny man. But he wasn't always funny. He could be ruthless and cruel and harsh."

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JOE MERCER - Everton and Arsenal legend
"They say he was tough, he's hard, he's ruthless. Rubbish. He's got a heart of gold, he loves the game, he loves his fans, he loves his players. He's like an old Collie dog, he doesn't like hurting his sheep. He'll drive them certainly, but bite them, never."

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JOHN KEITH - Journalist
"Given Bill Shankly's image as a firebrand extrovert, always ready with the verbal jab, it may surprise people to know that he had a soft centre. Underneath the bravado was a kind, sensitive man, who would give fans money if they were stuck, who would find tickets for supporters unable to buy one and who never bore grudges. And he loved to be told he'd cracked a funny gag!"

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SIR STANLEY MATTHEWS - England and Stoke legend
"If my father was my guiding light in life, Bill Shankly was my football mentor. Has there been anyone with a greater love for the game? If there has, I have yet to meet him. He was an established player when I first encountered him during my days as a junior. He invariably popped along to our matches - Bill would stop off anywhere a game of football was being played and, even at that early stage of his career, you knew he would go into coaching and management and make a damn good job of it."

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WILF MANNION - Middlesbrough star and England international
"What I like about Bill is that he never panics. Even when things weren't going so well, he stuck to the same team and gave them a chance to settle down. 'Panic and all is lost,' is one of the Shankly maxims. Everything Bill does is done to plan. Even training is scheduled to a strict timetable. But that doesn't make him a strict disciplinarian. Far from it. He is one of the easiest-going characters I have met. Ask the players. He's always 'Bill' to them. There's no 'Mr' or 'Boss' when he's around. 'Let the players regard you as an equal,' says Bill, 'and you gain just as much respect.' I couldn't agree more."

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TOMMY SMITH - LIVERPOOL 1962-1978
"He was infectious, got you buzzing, kept you interested in the club. Nothing else but football though. You could mention something and he’d equate it to football. You’d say something about the weather, 'Aye son, good day for skidding the ball across the grass'."

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RONNIE MORAN - LIVERPOOL 1952-1998 (on Shankly's arrival at Liverpool)
"I learned more in the first three months than I'd done in the seven years that I'd been a pro. I wish I'd been five years younger."

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JOE FAGAN - LIVERPOOL 1958-1985
"We were going nowhere, but the whole club changed when Bill arrived. It started to vibrate. Everything started to move forward for Liverpool. It was his great personality. A beam shone out of him. The other thing about him was that he was a simple man. There was nothing pretentious about him. Bill Shankly was undoubtedly Liverpool's greatest ever signing."

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ROGER HUNT - LIVERPOOL 1958-1969
"The change that came over the place was incredible. Where there had been the nice approach of Phil Taylor, now there was this bristling, rasping fellow like James Cagney, who was setting out to conquer the world. Everything changed. Suddenly everyone was walking about with a new sense of purpose."

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BOB PAISLEY
"One man transformed Liverpool from a run-of-the-mill Second Division team into the greatest team in the world. That man, of course, was Bill Shankly. His philosophy was simple; If you are going to to play football, you play to win. While he was the making of Liverpool, there is no doubt that Anfield was the making of Bill Shankly. His character, his own enthusiasm, his will to win were so infectious."

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JOE MERCER - playing adversary from the 30s and 40s
"From the moment he arrived there's been only one way... up. And this endless success was mirrored in that amazing relationship with the Kop. When he was at Anfield he was the city of Liverpool's answer to vandalism and hooliganism, because the kids came to see Liverpool. They came to see those red shirts and Shankly was their man, their hero, their football god. He belongs to the Kop, he's one of them. If he hadn't managed Liverpool I'm sure he'd have been on the Kop dressed in red, singing and chanting 'Liverpool, Liverpool.' "

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JOCK STEIN - Leeds manager and Shankly's great friend
"No Scot ever made a bigger impact on a club than Bill Shankly. Others may claim an equal share of trophies and Matt Busby comes to mind with his wonderful record crowned by the Euopean Cup, but not even Matt would claim the kinship with the fans that Bill Enjoyed. He was what football was all about. I can't praise him higher than that."

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ALAN A'COURT - LIVERPOOL 1952-64 (from his interview on LFChistory.net)
"Shanks came in ‘59, They called him the suitcase manager you know, someone who moves around all the time. He was every enthusiastic and lived football, if you talked to him about any other sport, he’d get up and walk away. He spoke to a guy in America about Tom Finney, and the man didn’t know who Tom Finney was, Shanks just turned his back on him."

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SIR TOM FINNEY - Preston and England legend (from his interview on Shankly.com)
"He was such a wonderful character and a wonderful player to have in your side because he didn't know what the word 'defeat' meant. He was a very good player and an extremely fit person. All he lived for was the game and he had no time for players who didn't look after themselves off the field as well as on it. We used to train in the morning and we'd finish around 1 o'clock and Bill was always one of the first to see if anyone was interested in coming back for a game of head tennis, or interested in doing something to improve some aspect of their game. He wanted to pass that enthusiasm onto the youngsters in the squad. I quite often came back with him.

He was a real team man, a good passer of the ball, and a good winner of the ball because of his fitness. He never had any worries about who he played against either. He would say 'There's nobody better than me and if we get out on the field and they show they're better then good luck to them'. He was a great character to have in the dressing room, very calm but very jocular. Most of the players would be tense and uptight but he would quieten everything down by dressing up in his 'John Sullivan' pants as he called them and fooling around. He would tell us we were going out to enjoy the game and that we shouldn't go out as if we were going to war." 

EMLYN HUGHES - LIVERPOOL 1967-1979
"I've seen players sitting in the dressing room quaking with nerves. They could hear the roar of the crowd through the dressing room walls, they knew what a big job was on front of them, and they would just go to pieces. But then in walks Shanks, and before the player knows, he's feeling tremendous, like a new man. Once Shanks had turned on his "magic" you'd go out and face any opposition, simply because, I think, you believe what Shanks said. Sometimes it might have been outrageous but usually it was just sound, simple sense."

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RON YEATS - LIVERPOOL 1961-1971
"He gave me a lot of confidence. He made any player feel like a great player. If you feel like one, then you'll play like one. Even when we lost, the boss would prove that it was all a mistake - the winning goal was offside, one of our blokes was fouled - that sort of thing. Another thing is that there were no non-triers in a Shankly team. He wouldn't tolerate any lax attitudes - no matter who you were. We didn't have any stars really - everyone was treated the same."

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ALEC LINDSAY - LIVERPOOL 1969-1977
"Shanks frightened me to death. It wasn’t what he said. It was just the way he looked at you. He’d growl."

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RONNIE MORAN
"Can you imagine him dealing with the media? He would love being a manager today. They would have to drag him away from the TV cameras."

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FRANK MCGHEE - Journalist
"There he'd stand with his hands jammed in his pockets and his face would light up if you were a friend of his. You'd get the handshake and those eyes that always looked straight at you and you'd hear that lovely Ayrshire voice. Then you knew you were in for 10 minutes of magic."

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DENIS LAW - Manchester United and Scotland legend. Shankly's former player at Huddersfield.
"The first day I met Bill Shankly I couldn't believe there could be a man so involved with football 24 hours a day, every day. It was his whole life. There will never be a man like him ever again in football. I've never met anyone before or since with the same passion and love of the game. He was obsessed with fitness, he absolutely hated players being injured even to the point of ignoring those who were! But above all he gave you a confidence and made you fell cocky. He was an unforgettable man."

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BOB PAISLEY
"When Bill came to Liverpool from Huddersfield, a friend at Huddersfield told me I'd never be able to work with Bill for more than two years. I wouldn't be able to stand the strain, he said. But from the moment he arrived we got on like a house on fire. Bill was happy with us and we were certainly happy with him. He carried us along through the sheer force of his personality."

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RONNIE MORAN - (from his interview on Shankly.com)
"Shanks always preached that we had eleven captains. He wanted to see players think things out and rectify things if they were going wrong. You never got shouted at for trying to change something out on the pitch. You were always taught to work things out for yourself. Mind you if you tried something stupid and it didn't come off we had a saying that we would 'hit you on the head with a big stick from the touchline'."

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TOMMY SMITH (on Shankly's retirement)
"I had spent a decade and a half in the Bill Shankly School of football. Now it was if a part of me had died. I took some consolation from the fact that Bill Shankly was getting out at the top, retiring as football’s greatest winner. Later on, chief executive Peter Robinson told that Bill used to threaten to retire every year. They had always cajoled him out of it. This time there was no going back."

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BYRON BUTLER couldn't have described Shankly better in the official illustrated history of The Football League.
"'Shanks', with his cocky strut, crew cut hair and gravel voice, was all Scot and all Scouse - a manager who turned a game of blood and sweat into a faith. He understood players as few others did; and as a motivator, said one of his players, 'he'd have been great in the war, another Winston Churchill'. Shankly was a showman, a spinner of dreams and a master of what he called 'the true joke' - a wicked mixture of exaggeration, whimsy and ego. He was a man of simplicity but never a simple man. 'Me havin' no education,' he once said, 'I had to use my brains.' He was hugely successful and hugely loved."

PETER ROBINSON - chief executive and vice chairman remembers when Sunderland approached Liverpool in the late 60's.
"It was at a time when Bill wasn't having the best of relationships with the Liverpool board and when the Roker job came up he received an approach about it. He asked me if he decided to go would I go with him. I said I'd think about it. However, this settled down between Bill and the board and nothing else materialised. It's an interesting exercise, though, to wonder what would have happened to the two clubs if Bill had taken it further."

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IAN ST JOHN
"He was a big boxing fan and he read once that Joe Louis trained on steaks. So that was it. On Fridays, we'd have steak. Saturday lunch, steak. Saturday night on the way back from the match, steak. When you left Liverpool you went vegetarian."

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KEVIN KEEGAN
"I always carry a picture of him, he comes into my conversation a lot. I learned a lot from him and owe the man a great deal."

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KEVIN KEEGAN (on Shanks' death in 1981)
"I have only felt like this once before, and that was when my father died, because Bill was like a second father to me."

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NESSIE SHANKLY
"Bill depended a lot on Bob. They were like the terrible twins when they got going. I think Bill needed Bob. I think he calmed him down a bit."

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JOHN TOSHACK
"Bill Shankly used to say: 'A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.'"

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NESSIE SHANKLY
"Bill always cleans the oven when Liverpool get beat, that's why we have the dirtiest oven in the League."

Shanks quote

"Denis Law said to Shankly that he enjoyed coming to Anfield because 'you always get a lovely cup of tea‘. Shanks turned to Denis and said, 'Aye, Denis son, but that's all you'll get when you come here. A cup of tea!'"

GEORGE BEST

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