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Friday, 21 December, 2001, 09:38 GMT
The legacy of the boot room
Former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley
The most successful boot room graduate - Bob Paisley
By BBC Sport Online's Sanjeev Shetty

The passing of former Liverpool manager Joe Fagan will sadden the red half of Merseyside.

But it will also serve as a reminder of the unofficial institution which influenced football for three decades.

Although Fagan will be rightly remembered as the man who took the Reds to an unprecedented treble in 1984, he was also one of the 'boot room boys'.

The boot room was, depending on who you believed, the place where strategy for future matches was planned or where visiting managers went for a post-match drink.

Roy Evans - former Liverpool manager
The last of the line - Roy Evans
It was also the place where future Liverpool managers were trained.

It was something that became synonymous with Liverpool after the arrival of Bill Shankly on Merseyside.

Aside from Fagan, the venerable Bob Paisley honed his trade in the boot room, an apparently unglamorous part of Anfield, noted mostly for the sly bottles of gin hidden in the cupboard.

In the early days of the boot room, it was Paisley, Reuben Bennett, and Joe Fagan who formed the nucleus of the little meetings that would take place.

That trio brought a fabulous insight into football, simply because of their different backgrounds.

Paisley was steeped in Liverpool, having served as a player and then physiotherapist, before being promoted into first-team affairs.

Although a native of Durham, Paisley understood the passion of Liverpool fans as well as anyone.

Scot Bennett knew Shankly through his family and his experiences as a player of some ability at Dundee gave him valuable experience.

And then of course there was Fagan, who never actually played for the Reds but had played for Manchester City and who Shankly had tried to sign for Grimsby.

Those three had been entrenched at Anfield before Shankly arrived and formed the backbone of the success that would come to Liverpool in future years.

  The boot room boys
Bob Paisley - 1974-83, six league titles, three European Cups, one Uefa cup, three league cups
Joe Fagan - 1983-85, one league title, one league cup, one European Cup
Roy Evans - 1994 - 1998, one league cup

"Fellows, your jobs are safe. Some managers bring their own people with them. Not me. I have my own system and it will work in co-operation with you," were said to be Shankly's words when he arrived at Liverpool in 1959.

"I will lay down the plans and gradually we will all be on the same wavelength. I demand only one thing: loyalty."

Almost as if to guarantee that loyalty, future members of the boot room would come from within the club.

There would be Ronnie Moran, club captain when Shankly arrived, who soon became the noticeably bald member sitting on the team bench during games.

Former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly
Shankly demanded only loyalty from his boot room boys
And in 1974, as Shankly left Liverpool for good, there was the quiet appointment of Roy Evans, a young left-back who was persuaded to give up his dreams of professional football for a career in coaching.

It would be Evans who would resume the boot room story in 1994, before his resignation in November 1998, which signalled the end of the era.

Outsiders often scoffed at the thought of these men sat in a small room after games compiling dossiers on what they had just seen and what they were planning for the next game.

But seven league titles, five league cups, four European cups and one Uefa Cup - the trophies won by Messrs Paisley, Fagan and Evans - suggest they were not wrong often.

Between them, the boot room boys managed the club for nearly 16 years and kept Liverpool near the top for most of that time.

Their like will never be seen again.

See also:

02 Jul 01 |  Liverpool
Liverpool legend Fagan dies
02 Jul 01 |  Liverpool
Fagan - the silent success
Links to more Liverpool stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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