Born in poverty, one of 10 children, Bill Shankly went to work in a coal mine at 14. “I had no education so I had to use my brains,” he’d say. But first he used his feet. A no-nonsense wing-half, he won 6 Scotland caps. As a manager and a socialist, he emphasised teamwork and forged a unique bond between players and fans.
He called it the Liverpool Way and with it, the Reds would rule Europe. After initially building on his success, Liverpool, wounded by tragedies and tricked by con men, eventually lost their way. But now, with a manager in Shanks’ mould and astute owners, they have regained their perch. And they’ve done it by reverting to as many of Shankly’s principles as a 21st century corporation allows.
There’s much about the modern game he would have hated yet a lot about today’s Liverpool that he would have liked. As Bob Holmes traces his epic journey from pit village to managerial Mount Rushmore, his ‘voice’ can be heard throughout. And even 38 years after his death, it is argued that he had a hand in the recovery.