While Bill Shankly’s Liverpool were more than capable of doing their talking on the pitch, the Scot was never short of a soundbite to delight fans and observers.
His most famous quote perfectly summarised the way he felt about football: “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.”
Similarly, his desire to be the best at anything he did – “Even if I was scrubbing floors, I’d want my floor to be cleaner than yours” – was encapsulated by: “If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.”
Shankly reserved some of his more caustic remarks for Liverpool’s rivals across Stanley Park, Everton. “If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I'd pull the curtains,” he once quipped. He could never resist teasing the Toffees: “I always look in the Sunday paper to see where Everton are in the league - starting, of course, from the bottom up.”
Asked about an apocryphal tale related to his wedding
anniversary, Shankly quickly sought to explain: “Of course
I didn't take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary
present, it was her birthday. Would I have got married in
the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves.”
At every club he managed, Shankly consistently had
problems with the board, his frustrations boiling over at
what he perceived to be a lack of ambition.
“At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the
manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it.
They are only there to sign the cheques,” he said, making
his feelings abundantly clear.
The city was stunned in the summer of 1974, when Shankly,
then aged 60, decided to resign from his role as manager.
He later revealed how hard he found the situation.
“It was the most difficult thing in the world, when I went to tell
the chairman. It was like walking to the electric chair. That's the
way it felt.”
A staunch socialist and always keen to air his views on politics, Shankly outlined his philosophy as such: "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.”
By Chris Shaw, Senior Editor
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YouTube: Shankly's sayings turned him into a national legend; Shankly standing by the dug-out at Anfield
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BILL SHANKLY MEMORIAL COVERAGE
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