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Beginning a football revolution

Bill Shankly in 1972 telling sculptor Arthur Dooley about the passion of Liverpool fans

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary Bill Shankly's appointment as Liverpool FC manager.

During 15 years in charge Shankly turned Liverpool from Second Division also rans to a leading European club.

Under his stewardship Liverpool won three First Division Championships, two FA Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Second Division title.

Bill Shankly quit Liverpool unexpectedly in July 1974, and died of a heart attack aged 68 in 1981.

Appointed Liverpool manager on 1 December, 1959, Shankly officially took charge 14 days later, though his first game didn't bode well, a 4-0 home defeat to Cardiff.

A sleeping giant

When Shankly took over at Anfield the club had been out of the top flight for five years and were playing second fiddle to rivals Everton who had remained in the First Division.

Bill Shankly
Bill Shankly is honoured with a statue at the Kop end of Anfield

Shankly's first task was to rebuild the team, the tide turned with two signings in the summer of 1961, "The turning point and the beginning of the whole affair was the signing of Ian St John and Ron Yeats," Bill Shankly told the BBC after his retirement.

"That was the beginning, no doubt about that."

After Liverpool's 3-0 demolition of Newcastle United in the 1974 FA Cup Final supporters bowed at Shankly's feet on the Wembley turf, "These are the people, who came on the field and bowed down, these are the people I'm pleased for, more than anybody else, more than myself," Shankly said after the match.

"You only get out of life what you put in to it, and if you're basically honest and you work for the people religiously and you don't cheat anybody, you've a chance."

One of Shankly's greatest achievements was turning a defeat in to victory, famously after Liverpool had lost to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup Final, Shankly addressed thousands of fans who, despite the heartbreak of losing at Wembley, had gathered the day after the final at Liverpool's St George's Hall.

"Yesterday at Wembley we may have lost the cup, but you the people, have won everything," he told the crowd.

"You won over the policemen in London, you won over the London public.

"It's questionable if Chairman Mao of China could have arranged such a show of strength as you have shown yesterday and today."

As a player for Preston North End Shankly's peak years coincided with the Second World War, and he lost several years of his career to the conflict.

When he retired from playing in 1949 he moved immediately in to management at Carlisle United, later moving to Grimsby Town, Workington and then Huddersfield where he was spotted by Liverpool chairman T.V. Williams.

When his death was announced the Labour Party Conference stood in a minutes silence.

Liverpool built the Shankly Gates at Anfield in his memory and in 1998 Preston North End named their new stand the Bill Shankly Kop.

BBC Radio Merseyside broadcast a special tribute to Bill Shankly, listen to the full two hour programme on iPlayer .

Shankly search over with casting
26 Mar 08 |  Merseyside
Remembering Bill Shankly
29 Sep 06 |  Liverpool


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