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A Golden Age? A Comparative of Analysis of Liverpool FC under Bill Shankly and Everton FC under Har

Fig. 1. Liverpool Echo, ‘FA Charity Shield match at Goodison Park. Everton 0 v Liverpool 1. Roger Hunt of Liverpool and Ray Wilson of Everton, teammates in the successful England World Cup winning team, parade the Jules Rimet trophy to fans at the start of the season. 13th August 1966.’, at


‘Long before Cassius Clay said it about himself they were saying it on Merseyside. About themselves. “WE ARE THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD.” Liverpool and Everton fans said it about their teams. The players about their supporters. With equal conviction’

[Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, 1966] [1]

This dissertation examines whether the period from 1959 to 1974 can be considered a ‘golden age’ for football in Liverpool? This will be done by analysing the events within Liverpool FC and Everton FC, in this period. Specifically, it investigates the managerial careers of Bill Shankly at Liverpool FC and Harry Catterick at Everton FC, respectively. This comparative analysis will establish the roles of the two managers in the successes of their clubs during this ‘golden age’.

Central Arguments

This dissertation seeks to examine five key research questions in relation to Shankly, at Liverpool FC, and his contemporary, Harry Catterick, at Everton FC. Firstly, was the period from 1959 to 1974 a ‘golden age’ for football in Liverpool? Secondly, what role did Bill Shankly and Harry Catterick play in making this a ‘golden age’? Thirdly, how much did the clubs achieve in this period? Fourthly, what praises and criticisms can be attributed to Shankly and Catterick in this period? And lastly, are there facts about Shankly and Catterick that can weaken or strengthen their image, that are unbeknown to many supporters of both Liverpool FC and Everton FC?

These five research questions will remain a constant focus for the content of this dissertation. The research questions will be evaluated later, this will assess how the dissertation has answered these questions. Reviewing these five points will illustrate that the dissertation has remained focussed throughout.

Secondary Sources and Historiography: Gaps in the Knowledge

Of all the available readings on the subject, relating to Shankly and Catterick, there were several key works related to both managers and Merseyside football, which were particularly useful. This includes three crucial general texts on Liverpool FC, Kelly’s The Official Illustrated History 1892-1995: Liverpool, Matthews’ Who’s Who of Liverpool and Williams’ Red Men: Liverpool Football Club – The Biography.[2] These works provide a general overview of Liverpool FC throughout their history. They highlight key events and information from the period of Shankly being manager and the successes of Liverpool FC. As Shankly is a famous manager in Liverpool’s history, there were many works to choose from and these three were the most insightful.

Some of the best general histories of Everton FC that were used, they included; two books by Hodgson written shortly after this period, The Everton Football Book: League Champions 1969/70 and The Everton Story.[3] Kelly also contributed to Everton FC’s historiography with his book Forever Everton: The Official Illustrated History of Everton FC, again Matthews also produced a book related to Everton FC with Who’s Who of Everton.[4] Rogers’ produced two significant books that were used, Born Not Manufactured: Five Decades of Inside Stories from the Heart of Everton Football Club and Goodison Glory: The Official History.[5] These provided a similar insight to the general books used with Liverpool FC, they deliver an overview of this era, highlighting key events and people from the period who were then researched further. Perhaps Hodgson’s works were most significant, they were both written in the 1970s and had more of a focus on Catterick and this period.

There was an abundance of works specifically focusing on the career of Bill Shankly. Some of the most significant were, Gill (Shankly’s granddaughter) and her book, The Real Bill Shankly, Glyn’s A Legend in His Own Time: Bill Shankly, Manager, Liverpool Football Club, 12th December, 1959 – 12th July, 1974. A Tribute, Keith’s The Essential Shankly, Kelly again with Bill Shankly: It's Much More Important Than That: The Biography and Thompson with Shankly.[6] As well as this, amongst several academic journals that were used, Davie’s work ‘Believing without Belonging: A Liverpool Case Study’, provided an interesting insight on fan relations with Shankly.[7] These works were much more focussed on the period under discussion and were very helpful with the dissertation. Of these six selected texts, they were written across four different decades over a span of thirty-six years. This helped to provide differing opinions from different historians and time periods. This also exemplifies the broad amount of work available for Shankly.

In contrast to the abundance of Shankly specific work, is the texts focussed on Catterick. The only book that provides a focussed insight into Catterick’s career specifically was Sawyer’s Harry Catterick: The Untold Story of a Football Great.[8] This could be problematic, there is little to judge Sawyer’s work against to establish whether it provides a fair assessment of Catterick’s career. Nevertheless, this book partnered with general histories of Everton FC, did enable me to analyse the role of Catterick during this period.

Having read these texts there has been some failures to examine the research questions that have been addressed. There have been two crucial gaps in the knowledge that have reoccurred. One crucial gap is centred around Catterick, during this research no audio or visual clips have been found in any form. Whenever searching for Catterick the only sources that have been useful are mainly centred around his flaws. Authors seem keen to note he was an influential manager and then immediately counter this with stories that undermine his work. There is a distinct lack of pro-Catterick literature and primary evidence of him talking.

Another crucial gap in the knowledge centres around criticism of Shankly, this is the opposite of Catterick. Shankly literature is far too hagiographical, there is a consensus in the literature that Shankly was a brilliant manager, it is hard to pick out faults. Nevertheless, certain facts and events that undermine his infallible image have been uncovered. Any facts or figures that illustrated a weakness in Shankly’s abilities were often little known by supporters of Liverpool FC, they were also not spoken about in many of the books that were used. These were the two most crucial gaps in the knowledge that occurred during this research.

Archival Sources

The use of the National Football Museum Archives in the Collections & Research Centre, at Deepdale, Preston, was crucial for this dissertation.[9] This archive is open to academic and non-academic research visitors and houses thousands of primary and secondary sources related to football throughout history. The extensive collection of autobiographies and biographies, partnered with primary magazines, such as Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly and Shoot Magazine, were of significant help to this study.

This thesis has accessed numerous autobiographies from significant individuals of this era. Three texts by Alan Ball were used, however his final book, Alan Ball: Playing Extra Time, was the most significant as this was a more in-depth analysis of his career at Everton FC.[10] Whereas, the other two works were written whilst he was playing and were very general overviews of his career to that date. Similar to this was the work by Ian St John, Phil Thompson, John Toshack and Ron Yeats.[11] These four men helped to provide specific information from key events at Anfield under Shankly. They provided a different approach on events that Shankly discusses, this helped to present a more rounded argument. Ian Callaghan’s autobiography should have been one of the most crucial texts as he played throughout the Shankly period.[12] However, this work was very general and not too helpful, the book does not flow chronologically and is far too brief. This is similar to the autobiography of Bob Paisley, he only provides one chapter on his career with Shankly.[13] Having spent fifteen years working together one would expect a lot more from this book, instead Paisley lightly brushes the surface of Shankly’s career and does not reveal or assess much from Shankly’s tenure. This is in stark contrast to Colin Harvey, he worked under Catterick and provided a lot of in-depth information about Catterick during his time at Everton FC.[14] Unfortunately, Catterick did not write an autobiography so it was hard to find his opinion on specific moments at Goodison Park. Shankly’s autobiography provided this insight that Catterick was lacking, Shankly is very in-depth with his book and this was invaluable during this research.[15]

Utilising the fact that many fans from this period are still alive was crucial. Through interviewing seven Liverpool FC and Everton FC fans, an insight into contemporary opinion was possible.[16] Combining questions from the past with interesting facts and statistics, knowledge on what fan opinions were of these two men at the time was established. It was very interesting finding out more from this era from supporters who were going to watch Liverpool FC and Everton FC in this period.

Magazines report major events from a particular month or week, this highlighted the significance of certain events that were analysed and was invaluable for the dissertation.[17] Of the five magazines that were used, four were produced outside of Liverpool. This provided a less biased review of events of the time. As well as this, for a national magazine to be writing about Liverpool FC or Everton FC added weight to an argument that this was a ‘golden age’ for football on Merseyside. These magazines were in-depth and consistently provided contemporary opinions of key games and events. Of all the magazines used, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly was invaluable for this period.

The magazines were similar to the use of newspapers.[18] Despite this, they were less useful than the magazines. Most of the newspapers that were examined were regarding key games, in this era newspapers would be handed out after football matches. This meant that first-half analysis of a game was in-depth, yet the second-half was overlooked. This was frustrating and often undermined the source. As well as this, most of the publications analysed were produced in Liverpool, this made many sources biased and unreliable. Newspapers were a key part of this research but magazines were of more help.

The use of official matchday programmes from both Liverpool FC and Everton FC was very useful.[19] These provided a good insight to the opinions of those at board level within both clubs. Programmes of that time always included a message from the chairman who would assess how the season was going and share any notable information for the fans. One issue that was apparent came from programmes toward the end of the season. Many times, the last few games of a season are vital, the issue that arose centred around printing time. Many of the pre-match messages would have to pre-empt events that may or may not have happened. This took away from the ability to celebrate or criticise events within the club, thus diminishing the value of the source.

Radio was an avenue that could have been further explored. When researching, it became apparent that Shankly and Catterick had appeared on local radio numerous times. Despite attempts to contact the radio stations, these radio appearances could not be accessed. The only radio piece that was accessed was the Bill Shankly Show.[20] This radio interview between Shankly and, former Prime minister, Harold Wilson, provided a great insight to the political opinions of Shankly.

Finally, the use of British MovieTone and British Pathé provided primary video evidence from the time.[21] These video reports were again a display of the role of the two clubs, nationwide. These videos added an extra layer to the research and bolstered the written evidence that had been compiled. Reports of the time were very different to the way sport is broadcasted today, this meant that the research was more interesting. Despite this, the difference in reporting did lack some detail and made referencing and quoting from the videos more difficult.

Archival sources were crucial for this dissertation. Through independent research and sourcing of evidence, partnered with the information supplied at the National Football Museum’s archive, this study was provided with crucial primary evidence. For further details on these sources, see the bibliography.

Chapter Overview

This thesis is comprised of two chapters. Chapter One – ‘Boss Man’ or ‘People’s Man’, seeks to examine the role of Bill Shankly at Liverpool FC from 1959 to 1974. The two quotes in the name of the chapter illustrate two contrasting characteristics of Shankly, this chapter will further explore these themes. To do this some of the most significant trophies that were won in this period will be examined. Not only will they be analysed, but this will be in the context of Shankly and his role in these successes. As well as success, the failures of this time must be assessed and again this will be viewed in the context of Shankly. The chapter seeks to examine whether this period was a ‘golden age’ for Liverpool FC and what role Shankly played in this.

Chapter Two – ‘Mr. Success’ and his ‘Cheque-book Champions’, seeks to examine the role of Harry Catterick at Everton FC from 1961-1973. This is much like the first chapter and will be viewing the achievements and disappointments of Everton FC in this period. The two quotes in the name of the chapter highlight how Catterick is rewarded with praise for this era, yet his role is undermined by the money that he had at his disposal. The ups and downs of Everton FC at this time will be viewed under the context of Catterick. By analysing these events, a clear picture of the role of Catterick at this period will be created.

Liverpool FC and Everton FC were at different swings of a pendulum when the period started. Liverpool FC languishing in Division 2 began the period in depression, Everton FC ended the period in a slump following Catterick’s ill health. The two met in the middle of their respective swings of the pendulum in the period 1962-1966. Collectively the teams won nine trophies in these four years and the build-up and aftermath to these events are of foremost importance and interest. Fifteen trophies in fifteen years, throughout the whole period from 1959 to 1974, is enough to surmise this as a ‘golden age’. This long decade under examination, covers such a vast change in fortunes for both clubs that this must be considered a ‘golden age’. The period involved rivalry and friendship, success and failure in equal measure across Merseyside. The years from 1959 to 1974 will be fully examined through analysing the role of Shankly at Liverpool FC and Catterick at Everton FC.

Chapter One

‘Boss Man’ or ‘People’s Man’?

Bill Shankly’s tenure at Liverpool FC from 1959 to 1974

My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Had Napoleon had that idea he would have conquered 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

[Bill Shankly, 1974] [22]

Bill Shankly: background and philosophy

Shankly was an integral part of this ‘golden age’ for football in Liverpool. He was involved with Liverpool FC for the entirety of the period under examination, from becoming manager in 1959, until his retirement in 1974. Shankly was an inspirational leader, who is known as the man who laid the building blocks of Liverpool FC’s domestic and European successes of the 1970s and 1980s. He is also the only person who has a statue outside of Anfield which further illustrates his importance to Liverpool FC. ‘Bill Shankly, the Ayrshire born footballer turned manager who transformed the fortunes of a mediocre Second Division side and lay the foundations for years of European dominance’.[23] An orator, leader and likeable man, this chapter examines the role of Shankly during this ‘golden age’ for football in Liverpool, and the role he played in the successes and failures of Liverpool FC at this time.

When Shankly arrived on Merseyside from Huddersfield Town FC in 1959, Liverpool FC were a solid Division 2 side but far behind their neighbours Everton FC, who were a comfortable Division 1 side. Shankly said that when he first visited Anfield, Liverpool FC’s home ground, it was ‘the biggest toilet in Liverpool’.

[24] This exemplifies the position that Liverpool FC found itself and makes the forthcoming success even more impressive. When Liverpool FC won the Division 1 League Title in the 1965-66 season Sidney Reakes, Liverpool FC Chairman, stated that the ‘club can look back with pride on the achievements of the past five years, which rank as the most successful period in our history’.[25] From Division 2 regulars to three-time Division 1 League Title champions (1963-64, 1965-66, 1972-73), Division 2 League Title winners (1961-62), winners of the FA Cup twice (1965, 1974), winners of the UEFA Cup (1973) and two shared and one won Charity Shield (1964, 1965, 1966). All ten trophies won within thirteen years of Shankly’s tenure. This period can certainly be viewed as a ‘golden age’ for Liverpool FC.

It would be too simplistic and lacking focus to purely run through the Shankly years, listing the successes and trophies won during this time. Instead, there will be a focus on five key factors of Shankly’s career at Anfield. The factors under focus are; (1) promotion from Division 2, (2) the 1965 FA Cup, (3) the 1972-73 season where Liverpool FC won the Division 1 Title and the UEFA Cup, (4) Shankly’s relationship with the fans, partnered with this it is important to analyse (5) Shankly’s baron period 1966-73. His passion, charisma and relationship with the fans carried himself, his team and the city. He is now known as the manager who remodelled and made Liverpool FC a talented team, he inspired the ‘Anfield Boot Room’, and the European and Domestic dominance that came to Liverpool FC in the 1970s and 1980s. The key moments that add to and diminish the assertion that Shankly delivered a ‘golden age’ for Liverpool FC, will be thoroughly examined.

(1) Liverpool FC’s Promotion from Division 2 in the 1961-62 season

Upon his arrival, Shankly needed results to win the supporters’ trust. The 1961-62 season proved to be the campaign when Liverpool FC were promoted from Division 2 into Division 1, as champions. Not only does this add to the evidence that this was a ‘golden age’ for football in Liverpool, but this season showcased Shankly’s shrewd transfer market ability and management skills. The 1961-62 season was Shankly’s third at Anfield, twice he had attempted to lift Liverpool FC out of Division 2, twice he had narrowly failed and finished third.

He highlighted a list of ‘twenty-four names’ of players he wanted to leave the club ‘inside a year’, believing Liverpool FC were ‘overburdened’ with too many substandard players.[26] One of the men on this list was club legend Billy Liddell, so good that for a lengthy period Liverpool FC were coined ‘Liddellpool’.[27] When he played ‘his last game for Liverpool in 1960’ it was ‘twenty-two years after he had signed for them’.[28] Liddell remains the oldest goal scorer in Liverpool FC’s history and is the fourth top goal scorer of all time. His final game was marked with a souvenir edition of the Liverpool Echo where he was labelled ‘a player, a gentleman, a sportsman and the finest clubman the game ever knew’.[29] Although the decision may not have seemed too hard to make as Liddell was now an aged player, it was still difficult to replace a man of that stature within the club. Nevertheless, Shankly did so and he was firmly building his own team when he entered the new season.

Shankly had frictions with the Liverpool FC board of directors. He described them as ‘gamblers on a losing streak who were afraid to bet anymore’.[30] This was largely due to the thirteen years it had been without a trophy, and the six years they had spent in Division 2. Despite strong performances in his first two seasons, Liverpool FC were still not promoted and the board were not confident enough to financially support all of Shankly’s plans. This was until the arrival of Eric Sawyer. When Shankly arrived, he said Liverpool FC had ‘no money whatsoever to buy players’, though Sawyer was ‘an ambitious man’ and his arrival gave Shankly the backing he needed at a higher level.[31]

Shankly put two players at the top of his transfer wish list, but the board still met his desires with scepticism, stating that the club could not afford them. However, Sawyer spoke up and said, “We cannot afford not to buy them”.[32] Shankly went on to secure the signature of his two men, Ian St John and Ron Yeats, the two proved to be, according to Thompson, the ‘backbone of Liverpool’s success in the 1960s’.[33] Shankly read in a newspaper that St John was looking for a move away from Motherwell, within twenty-four hours Shankly was in Scotland talking with the striker and within a week he had scored a hat-trick against Everton FC. £37,500 had been invested, a record transfer for Liverpool FC, but still only half of Shankly’s plan.[34] It was questioned whether ‘any player has given greater value than St. John’, during his time at Anfield, this exemplifies his importance.[35] He was described by the Liverpool Echo as ‘ipso facto, a great footballer’, he represented Liverpool FC for ten years.[36]

Next, Shankly set his sights on fellow Scotsman, Ron Yeats. According to Ponting and Hale, Yeats was a ‘veritable man-mountain of a stopper’ and proved to be a great signing for Shankly.[37] Yeats was put on the transfer list at Dundee after asking for a £2 raise in his salary, and much like with St John, Shankly wasted no time in capitalising on one of his transfer targets. Yeats recalled meeting Shankly for the first time in an Edinburgh hotel, Shankly quipped that the six feet two defender was “nearly seven feet tall”, and he told Yeats Liverpool FC were a Division 1 side. When Yeats corrected Shankly that Liverpool FC were only in Division 2, he replied, “We are at the moment … but when we sign you we’ll be in the First Division next year!”.[38] Yeats was swept up in the charisma of ‘Bill Shankly – a great talker’, as Yeats labelled him, £30,000 later, he was a Liverpool FC player.[39] The Liverpool Echo labelled ‘Yeats, a quiet, slow-spoken man off the pitch, is a tiger on it’, he went on to captain Shankly’s side to success and lifted seven trophies during his tenure.[40]

Shankly had culled unwanted players, had backing from the board and secured his two most wanted transfers. These two players were ‘the very beginning of Liverpool’s rise, and they did more for the rise than anyone else. Yeats at the back, St John at the front’.[41] The two men, combined with goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence, were described as the ‘backbone of the team’.

[42] Shankly had achieved a lot in a short amount of time and was ready to challenge for the Division 2 title. One key reason for the success of that side was Roger Hunt, he scored ‘41 goals in 41 league appearances’, in the 1961-62 season.[43] Shankly had used Hunt extensively in the two previous seasons, nevertheless this proves the strength in his judgement. Shankly had orchestrated many departures from the team, yet the successes of those he retained display his managerial ability. He was not merely selling players to gather funds for a whole new squad, rather remoulding the one he had and making them a Division 1 side.

The 1961-62 season proved to be the campaign where Shankly lifted Liverpool FC out of Division 2, and ultimately never returned. This owed much to the big investment in Yeats and St John, who Shankly labelled ‘the corner-stone’ of his squad.[44] As well as home grown players like Callaghan and Hunt, and another new signing, Gordon Milne, Liverpool FC had a promotion worthy squad. Shankly built a side in which the fans ‘had no fear of them losing’.[45] They won their first six games of the season, when promotion was secured ‘The Reds were back where they belonged’.[46] The league title was won in April with five games to spare, Kelly notes that ‘Shankly had unleashed a new phenomenon of crowd fanaticism and passion which would soon become a legend’.[47] With the fans on side, Shankly carried Liverpool FC into Division 1.

The transition from Division 2 obscurity to this promotion winning side was a hugely significant event for Liverpool FC. Had this promotion not been achieved, and achieved so early in Shankly’s time at Anfield, this could not be viewed as a ‘golden age’ for football on Merseyside. The promotion to Division 1 provided Liverpool FC access to a better standard of football, as well as more prestigious trophies on offer. In their second season in Division 1, Shankly won the Division 1 League Title. The following season, this feat was surpassed as Liverpool FC won the FA Cup for the very first time.

(2) Winning the 1965 FA Cup

One of the most significant moments of the period under examination for Liverpool FC, was the FA Cup win of 1965. Winning the FA Cup was deemed by some fans as having ‘the same parity’ as winning the Division 1 League Title.[48] Others perceived it as ‘the be all and end all’, regardless, it was appreciated a lot more in the 1960s than it is today.[49] Newspaper reports from the time stated, ‘the triumphs of triumphs as so far as a football team are concerned’, was winning the FA Cup.[50] Ian Callaghan, who played for Liverpool FC in the 1965 FA Cup Final, said that playing and winning the 1965 FA Cup ‘was on par with the 1977 European Cup final win’.[51] Roger Hunt, who scored in the final, said that winning the 1965 FA Cup was a feat ‘that I never topped’.[52] Given that Both Callaghan and Hunt were members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad, this exemplifies the significance of this event. What made the event more momentous was that in the thirty years that proceeded the 1965 final, eleven of the twenty-two teams in the First Division had won the FA Cup. Not only were Liverpool FC not one of them, they had never won it in their history. Under Shankly, Liverpool FC were beaten in the Semi-Final in 1963 and in their history, had lost two finals in both 1914 and 1950. As the FA Cup had existed since 1872, it was vital that Liverpool FC won the FA cup and when they did it was a momentous occasion.

When Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC walked out at Wembley on that day, both were eager to win ‘the greatest of all English sporting trophies, the FA Cup’.[53] The game itself was not the most thrilling, with no goals scored it went to extra-time. Three goals were scored in extra-time, when Ian St. John scored with three minutes remaining it proved to be the winner and Liverpool FC had won their first FA Cup. Shankly himself stated that ‘Whether we entertained the people or not didn’t make any difference. In the end we had to go into extra-time, but we won the game’.

[54] During his moments of success Shankly became known for his speeches in the city when his team returned from cup finals. Many times, he stood on the steps of St. George’s Hall in the city centre and would deliver speeches that would rouse and ignite his adoring fans. Nevertheless, 1965 was different in that there was no speech for Shankly on this occasion, yet the reception the players received was special. Shankly said when the players returned to the city all they could see was ‘buildings and faces’, with many fans climbing and hanging from ‘dangerous places’, but they did not mind as ‘their name was on the Cup at last, and that was all that mattered’.[55]

The way in which this cup was celebrated illustrates that the Liverpool FC fans knew this was a huge moment in Liverpool FC’s history. Finally, they had won the FA Cup and they were consistently challenging in the league. Shankly was creating a ‘golden age’ at Anfield and no triumph was celebrated more than the 1965 FA Cup, his ‘greatest day in football’.[56]

The city was buzzing, it was ‘estimated that well over half a million people’ were present to salute their team, it was ‘almost certainly the biggest crowd that had ever gathered in the centre of the city’.[57] This event brought great pride to Bill Shankly who kept a newspaper cutting of the day for the rest of his life and he said, ‘I wouldn’t have been surprised if the lads had lifted the coach off the ground and carried us all to the Town Hall’.[58] This event meant so much to the Liverpool FC fans, the FA Cup was a huge trophy and was celebrated more than when they had won the League two years previous. The Liverpool FC fans were riding the crest of a wave, a wave that was created by Shankly and they adored him and his team.

In the five years preceding and including 1966, Liverpool FC had won seven trophies. Shankly’s Liverpool FC looked untouchable, yet he was about to meet his longest baron period of his Liverpool FC career. After winning the Division 1 League Title in the 1965-66 season, Shankly did not win another trophy (other than the 1966 Charity Shield), until the 1972-73 season. This period included huge transition within the squad. The long wait for a trophy meant that the accomplishments in that season were vivaciously received.

(3) 1972-73 Division 1 League Title winners, UEFA Cup winners and changing the whole squad

The baron period that preceded this season was not anticipated. After a six-year wait, Liverpool FC became ‘the first English club to win a European trophy, the UEFA Cup, and the League championship in the same season’, in the 1972-73 season.[59] This section will explore what Shankly did to turn this rut into success. Shankly’s hardest task throughout the whole period, was dismantling this team that brought him remarkable success in the early to mid-1960s, and creating a new squad.

From the 1969-70 season to the start of the 1972-73 season, Shankly had sold thirteen players and purchased nine. Of the thirteen he sold, three of them had made over four hundred appearances, four had made over one hundred. Losing this amount of experience, and replacing them with fresh acquisitions, presented Shankly with a tough task. Of Shankly’s nine purchases, five made over one hundred appearances at the close of their Anfield careers. He replaced trustworthy players with new ones, who went on to also display loyalty for the club. One interesting statistic is that, if you take the average appearances and goals of the players he sold, then compare that with those who replaced them, the numbers are very close. He replaced thirteen players who on average made 180 appearances and scored 41 goals between them, with nine players who on average made 170 appearances and went on to score 39 goals. This may seem like a lot of numbers that may be hard to process, the key fact is that Shankly replaced loyalty and quality successfully, creating a whole new squad. To replace one big player can be very difficult, replacing a whole team which had won him many trophies illustrates Shankly’s transfer nous.

Shankly had to sell aged club legends like Hunt (31), St John (31), Lawrence (31) and Yeats (34), as they were reaching the end of their careers. The baron years that came before the 1972-73 season illustrate that Shankly was being too loyal to these players. Nevertheless, they were sold and he replaced them with younger men who went onto be successful, such as; Heighway (22), Toshack (21), Keegan (20) and Case (18). Shankly again had highlighted his transfer targets, his main target was Keegan and Shankly labelled him ‘the inspiration of the new team’.[60] Shankly is afforded a lot of praise for signing Keegan, yet it is important to note that ‘Shankly had not seen Keegan play’, acting solely off advice from his staff.[61] This may detract from some of the praise that Shankly receives for this transfer.

The changes Shankly made were not just in terms of personnel but also his formation was altered. The change from 2-3-5 formations to 4-4-2, marked a new era of ‘ball-playing defenders and a more flexible and generic type of player able to play in several positions’.[62] Shankly had already pioneered formation changes during the 1960s, he was accredited with being the ‘first club team to go into a flat back four in England’, a formation changed inspired by European football.[63]

Much like with his aforementioned squad changes at the start of the Division 2 promotion season, Shankly again re-used players in the squad to build success. Ray Clemence had been purchased in 1967 as a long-term replacement for fellow goalkeeper Lawrence, and was now an integral part of the team. In his squad for the 1972-73 season, Shankly had six players who had worked their way up from the youth team at Liverpool FC. This included his captain Tommy Smith and future captain Phil Thompson. As well as this, Glyn mentions how Shankly converted Callaghan’s position ‘from the wing to the midfield’, to lengthen his career.[64] Shankly used the tools he had in the team already, partnering them with new transfers and young, local players. This is exemplified with Phil Thompson recalling a talk with Shankly when he was 18, Shankly told him “You are going to play for this club for years. You will captain this club one day”, this proved to be correct.[65]

It is again too simplistic to list Shankly’s transfers and state that as the reason Liverpool FC won the double in 1972-73, his tactical mind must also be praised. One such example of this was Shankly’s psychology. A plaque was placed above the tunnel leading to the pitch that read ‘THIS IS ANFIELD’, written in white on a red background, this was used as a ‘form of intimidation’.[66] The Division 1 League Title that was won that year was wrapped up with a game to spare, ‘Liverpool had clinched a record eighth title’.[67]

However, the pivotal moment of the campaign that showcased Shankly at his managerial best was the UEFA Cup victory. The UEFA Cup Final first leg was held at a ‘rain-drenched Anfield’ and the game was postponed, yet this ‘futile 27 minutes of football’ meant that the ‘secrets’ of both teams were out, and Shankly had a little bit of time to alter his tactics before the replay the following day.[68] Shankly’s mind games were used well when the referee said that the game may have to be called off. Shankly insisted the pitch was not “too bad”, he believed that had he agreed with the referee then the Borussia Moenchengladbach bench, or ‘Continentals’ as Shankly labelled them, would have insisted they played on.[69]

Controversially, Shankly had left out Toshack for the first game as he was returning from injury, Toshack was ‘furious’ and confronted Shankly, stating “you must be the luckiest man alive” and stormed out of Anfield.[70] The next day Toshack was reinstated to the starting team. Shankly had spotted that ‘The German defenders weren’t very big and they never came out of their penalty box’, he utilised Toshack’s height and ultimately ‘Keegan scored a couple of goals from these flicks and we won 3-0’. Interestingly, Shankly does not mention this Toshack altercation in his autobiography, whether it occurred or not the decision to put Toshack in the side was a master stroke. Keegan took many headlines for his two goals and missed penalty, yet it was ‘clear that the recall of … Toshack … would pay a handsome dividend’, ‘Borussia could do nothing with Toshack in the air’.[71] Liverpool FC won the first leg 3-0. They went into the second leg with many believing it would ‘surely be enough to make Liverpool the first side to win the First Division and a European trophy in the same season’.[72] The second leg was not a forgone conclusion, yet following a 2-0 defeat ‘Liverpool held on to win their first European trophy after nearly ten years of trying’.[73] What made it more impressive was that they did it with, in Shankly’s words, ‘virtually a team of kids’.[74]

This season was huge for Shankly, he proved he was still a top manager. He won his third Division 1 League Title and had the UEFA Cup to go with it. This added to the ‘golden age’ at Anfield under Bill Shankly and it proved to be in his penultimate season with Liverpool FC. After six long years without a trophy this was a huge achievement for Liverpool FC and ranks amongst the best campaigns Shankly had. Reflecting upon this season Shankly said; ‘winning the League Championship for the third time, and with a brand-new team, possibly gave me more satisfaction than anything’.[75]

Despite not winning a trophy for six years, the Liverpool FC fans were still fully in support for Bill Shankly. In fact, during this six-year slump, Liverpool FC recorded three of the top four average attendances of this whole period. The Liverpool FC fans loved and supported their team, a large part of this was because of their devotion to Shankly himself.

(4) Shankly’s Relationship with the Liverpool FC fans

One of the best ways to understand Shankly’s relationship with the fans is through Davie’s study of analogy and Liverpool FC. Davie states that, when analysing ‘football as if it were a religion’, in Liverpool FC’s case, the environment enables fans to hold ‘valuable and accurate perceptions about charismatic individuals … notably Bill Shankly’.[76] Put more simply, football is viewed as a religious experience by many on Merseyside, Shankly is viewed as a God to hardcore Liverpool FC supporters. Many fans see football as ‘a religion, a way of life’, Shankly understood and tapped into this.[77] Waller supports this by labelling this affection as, ‘Deification by Liverpool fans’, this became troubling for Shankly as he felt a pressure to live up to their estimations.[78] This lead to him saying “I’m no God. People seem to think I'm a miracle-maker”, the fact that Shankly had to say this illustrates the intense relationship he had with the fans.[79] Most Liverpool FC fans at the time believe that deifying Shankly is ‘extreme’, yet could ‘understand why people would view him like that’.[80] This relationship certainly aids the assertion that this was a ‘golden age’ for Liverpool football.

Shankly had such a special relationship with the fans and the love was certainly returned to him. Shankly himself believed this, he said “It is more than fanaticism, it’s a religion. To the many thousands who come here to worship, Anfield isn’t a football ground, it’s a sort of shrine’.[81] This pseudo religious image is best depicted on Shankly’s last competitive game, the FA Cup Final in 1974, where two fans ran on the pitch in celebration and kissed Shankly’s feet.[82] The relationship was so intense that it became a ‘cult’ around Bill Shankly. It is hard to fathom how a Scotsman could arrive in Liverpool and carve such an amazing relationship with the Liverpool FC fans. Shankly was a successful manager, however, compared to Bob Paisley his successor at Anfield, he did not win as many trophies. Paisley was more consistently successful. Yet, Shankly is loved more than any other Liverpool FC manager, it will be interesting to try and decipher what Shankly possessed that made him so loved.

One reason could be that Shankly started the greater success that followed in the two decades after his retirement. It can always feel easier to understand a story if you can mark a beginning, Shankly was the beginning of this future success. Before Shankly, Liverpool FC were a solid team but by no means the best in England. They went on to dominate England and Europe by winning many leagues and European Cups. It was Shankly that orchestrated this transformation. His charisma in momentous occasions and personal relationship with the fans, created an affinity with Liverpool FC. As Toshack said about the bond, ‘He was unique in his relationship with the fans and his love affair with the Kop’.

Shankly Hotel, ‘Two fans kiss Bill Shankly's feet after the match on 4th May 1974’, at


Shankly was a staunch socialist and he always believed in the power of everyone working together. One of his most famous quotes is:

The socialism I believe in isn't 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. That might be asking a lot, but it's the way I see football and the way I see life[84]

Shankly is so inextricably linked with socialism that writer, Stephen Kelly said; ‘The football of Shankly was the football of socialism, it was the post-war government of Attlee, it was the miners, it was about the dignity of the working man’.[85] Shankly was entwined with politics and was friends with former Prime minister, Harold Wilson. Wilson was interviewed by Shankly on the Bill Shankly Show on Radio City 96.7. The two men discussed politics and football and Shankly said, ‘Our football was a form of socialism’.[86] He needed the fans as much as they needed him and he would do anything to please them.

There are countless examples of Shankly’s relentless attempts to please the Liverpool FC fans. He would spend a lot of time replying to letters from fans and giving them tickets to the games. One example of this comes from Eastley, he notes that one young fan who wrote ‘the word ‘please’ 1,010 times in a begging letter to Bill Shankly and is rewarded with a £1 ground ticket’.[87] Another example is when ‘Bill Shankly wrote an article in the Liverpool Echo, saying that he would help any genuine fans who were having difficulty in obtaining tickets’. According to Paul, one lucky fan received a letter from Shankly with a Cup Final ticket inside, there was ‘a note on headed notepaper saying, ‘Best Wishes B Shankly’.[88] There are countless examples of Shankly sending Cup Final tickets and Birthday Cards to Liverpool FC supporters throughout his life.[89]

It was not only match tickets that Shankly obtained for Liverpool FC fans. Ray Clemence recalled of times when Liverpool FC fans would be on the same train home from away matches as the Liverpool FC team. Several of the fans had not purchased tickets but when the ticket inspector went around the train, Shankly would pay for the tickets of the fans as he knew how important they were to the club.

Tickets and accompanying Letter from Bill Shankly to Tom Jones, May 1974. Copy in authors possession.

Fig. 4. Birthday Card from Bill Shankly to Tom Jones, January 1978. Copy in authors possession.

[90] He was even seen ‘in West Derby Village carrying shopping for the elderly people’.

[91] These were all genuine acts of kindness that Shankly did, he was a true believer in socialism and he wanted to help his people as much as he could.

Aside from individual memories, there are several moments of contrasting emotions that illustrate Shankly’s relationship with the Liverpool FC fans. One of the significant moments came shortly after the defeat to Arsenal FC in the 1971 FA Cup Final, a game billed as ‘the best Wembley final for years’.[92] Shankly’s team returned to Liverpool as the defeated side, yet nothing about Shankly presented failure and he managed to turn the moment into power and pride between fans and players. The team returned to Liverpool with ‘At least 100,000 supporters’ to greet them and congratulate their efforts, despite defeat.[93] Shankly stood on the steps of St. George’s Hall in the centre of Liverpool and spoke to his people. He said; “Since I came here to Liverpool, and to Anfield, I have drummed it into our players time and again that they are privileged to play for you. And if they didn't believe me, they believe me now”.[94] The crowd was in total silence listening to their enigmatic leader and when he finished speaking they erupted and began chanting his name. Shankly possessed such power over the fans, they and his team were disappointed with defeat, the players looked almost awkward and embarrassed as he was speaking. Yet, he completely turned the occasion on its head and inspired everyone present. Bill Shankly stood in front of the fans with his arms wide and this image is still famous today, in the picture he does not look like a loser. He was showing that despite losing, the fans were right to be proud of their team.


When looking at the image, it does not look as though it presents a defeated manager who has just marked his fifth season without a trophy. The huge crowds demonstrate the love that the Liverpool FC fans had for their team and manager. His arms are outstretched and he looks like a man who is proud of his club and certainly is not portraying a loser. Even the crowd behind him look bemused, amongst the many adoring faces there are several fans and police officers who seem to be questioning Shankly’s actions somewhat. Shankly is rarely pictured with a beaming smile but his stern face shows that this is a moment he is trying to evoke power and passion. This may have been hard to initially understand for the many who may have thought he was celebrating defeat. He and the thousands of fans who had gathered were proud of their team, Shankly knew this reception was special and he had to utilise the crowd. Through his speech and actions, he made Liverpool FC look like the winners and he strengthened his bond with the Liverpool FC supporters. This is perhaps summed up by what else he said in his speech; “Yesterday at Wembley, we lost the Cup. But you the people have won everything”.

Fig. 5. Daily Mail, ‘'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'... As Liverpool (and Preston) toast Bill Shankly's 100th birthday, Golden Years remembers the great Scot’, at