It is now forty years since the football world was mourning the loss of Bill Shankly at the age of 68. He passed away in September 1981, just over twelve months after returning to Borough Park where he opened a lounge beneath the stand in his honour.
Born in Glenbuck, Ayrshire Bill actually started his playing days in England with Carlisle United, later returning to Brunton Park where he cut his managerial teeth. The bulk of his playing days, over 300 appearances, were spent with Preston North End and he was capped by Scotland.
Shanks actually played for Reds before becoming manager, turning out in a Borough Park friendly v. Falkirk in 1950.
After his playing days, his passion for the game took him into management, first with Carlisle United then Grimsby Town before being appointed Workington boss in January, 1954. He got off to a winning start, guiding Reds to a 2-0 home win over Chester in front of an enthusiastic 7,400 crowd.
Such was the impact he made in his near two year spell with the club, it was inevitable that the bigger clubs would come calling. Indeed, Huddersfield Town would be one of those clubs – another stepping stone en route to becoming Liverpool boss – and his departure from Workington was greeted with sadness.
After all he achieved in his fifteen years at Anfield, his friendship with Reds’ groundsman, Billy Watson, remained strong and the latter was often a guest at Liverpool’s training sessions at Mellwood.
It was still a coup for the club when Mr Shankly accepted an invitation to return to Borough Park in 1980 for a special lunch. After captivating the audience with his wonderful array of stories, he opened the Shankly Lounge which remains a focal point on match days to this day. For those fortunate enough to meet the great man, it became a never-to-be forgotten experience.