Editorials, News — February 16, 2012 00:27

The Great Bill Shankly & George Scott

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Fomer Liverpool reserve player George Scott has kindly allowed The Asian Kop to publish an article he wrote on Bill Shankly.

We found this article to be insightful and  interesting, and wanted to share it with you all.

All thanks to Shanks 1960 to 1970

In January 1960 at the age of 15 I travelled to Liverpool from Aberdeen to sign for Bill Shankly as one of his first young players.

I remember getting off of the train at Lime Street Station and being met by Joe Fagan who was then the youth team coach. We got in a taxi and drove up the famous Scotland Roadwhere Joe told me there was a pub on every corner and not to visit any of them ever.

We soon arrived at 258 Anfield Road where I was to share lodgings with two other apprentices, Bobby Graham and Gordon Wallace, both of whom later went on to play in the first team.

My first wage as an apprentice professional was £7.50 per week of which I gave £3.50 to my landlady for my lodgings and sent £2.00 per week home to my Mum in an envelope to help the family out. I was left with £1.50 per week which was enough in those days for a young man to have a great time for a week inLiverpool, including being able to watch the Beatles start their career playing live in the Cavern inMathew Street.

In May 1961 outside the secretary’s office  I found a complete record of the week’s wages to be paid in to Barclays Bank in Walton Vale for every player and member of staff at Anfield. Unbelievably the total wage bill for every player and all of the coaching and managerial staff in the Liverpool Football Club was five hundred and thirteen pounds, thirteen shillings, and two pence old money.

As Apprentice professionals, after cleaning the first team’s boots, painting the stands and clearing the rubbish from the Kop we used to play 5-a-sides in the car park behind the main stand every Monday morning. The opposition in these games was usually Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Reuben Bennett.  Our side was Bobby Graham, Gordon Wallace, Tommy Smith, Chris Lawler, and me. We never ever won those games because Shanks and company would have played until dark to make sure they got the result.

It was from one of these games that the famous true story has been passed down to generations of Liverpool fans.

We were playing the usual hard fought match and Chris Lawler was injured and watching from the sidelines. As we only had four men to their five, Shankly tried a long range effort to the unguarded goal which went over the shoe that we had layed down as a goalpost. He immediately shouted “Goal we have won, time up, get showered boys”.

Led by Tommy Smith we all hotly disputed the goal. Shankly saw that Chris Lawler was watching from the sidelines and shouted to him. ”You are in the perfect position son was that a goal?” Chris was a very quiet boy of few words and replied with one word “No” Shankly shouted at him in all seriousness” Son we have waited a year for you to speak and your first word is a lie”.

One of my first memories of Bill Shankly was in  January1960 when we were standing in the centre circle on the pitch while he was showing my father and me around a rather dilapidated Anfield.  Liverpool at the time was in the second division and he had just taken over as Manager. He said that I should look around and be grateful that I had signed for the club at this time because this place was going to become a “Bastion of Invincibility and the most famous football club in the world”

My father worked at the time as a gardener for the Aberdeen City Council and during the conversation Bill asked him the question “Who are you with Mr Scott”? My Dad replied “I work for the City Mr Shankly” whereupon Bill responded by saying in his best James Cagney voice “What league do they play in?

After a two year apprenticeship, I signed full time professional forms on my 17th birthday on October 25th 1961.

I made my reserve team debut along with Tommy Smith, Chris Lawler, Bobby Graham and Gordon Wallace as part of a very young Liverpool reserve team in the semi-final of the Lancashire Senior Cup against Manchester United reserves at Old Trafford in 1962 playing against some great old united players such as Albert Quixall, David Herd, Jimmy Nicholson, David Gaskell, Barry Fry, and Noel Cantwell.

During the next three years 1963, 1964, and 1965 I went on to make 138 appearances in the reserve team at Anfield scoring 34 goals.

In 1964/65 I was easily the top scorer in the Liverpool reserve team, and although I moved in to the first team squad, I never made my first team debut, as they only used 13 players in total that year, and the substitute rule only became effective in 1966/67, after I had left the club.

It was so different then from the Liverpool of the modern era. When reporters asked Bill Shankly what the team was, he used to reply “Same as last season”

During my time at Liverpool as a young player, I saw at first hand the fantastic charisma and motivational powers of Bill Shankly, and I was a witness to the authenticity of many of the stories of this amazing man that have found their way in to the folk lore of British football.

I was there when he ordered the building of the famous shooting boards and sweat boxes at the Melwood training ground, where the  training and coaching methods instilled by Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley were ultimately copied all over the world.

There were three full sized pitches at Melwood but the main pitch in front of the dressing rooms at Melwood was his pride and joy, and over one weekend he had the turf re-laid to ensure it was as good as Wembley Stadium.

When we arrived at Melwood for training on the Monday morning Shankly had jokingly put a notice on the notice board which said “In future only players with a minimum of 5 caps are allowed on the big pitch.” By order of the Manager

In the 1964/65 season I ended the season at Liverpool as easily the leading goalscorer in the second team at Anfield, and the first team beat Leeds United to win the FA Cup at Wembley.

This was the first time that Liverpool had ever won the Cup, and it was a fabulous occasion, and the greatest day in the clubs history at that time.

I remember walking up the Wembley pitch with Bill Shankly Bob Paisley and Peter Thompson an hour and a half before the game. Bill looked at the masses of Liverpoolfans behind the goal and said to Bob Paisley. “Bob we can’t lose for these fans, it is not an option” The hairs still stand up on the back of my neck today when I think about it.

I remember Ian St John’s great headed winning goal in extra time, and the winner’s reception at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

On the train journey home we drank champagne from the FA Cup, and once we passed Crewe you could not see the buildings for flags and bunting.

When we arrived at Lime Streetstation there must have been over 500,000 people in the streets as we made our way to the town hall for the official reception.

I stood behind Shankly on the town hall balcony as he made his speech to the thousands of supporters congested in to Water Street below, and it was absolutely electrifying. At the time I was in digs with the greatLiverpool winger Peter Thompson and when we eventually got home to our digs that evening I found a letter from the club waiting for me from Mr Shankly. I opened it thinking that I had been permanently promoted to the first team squad and that 1966 would be my big breakthrough year.

I was brought right back to reality when I saw that the letter stated that at a board meeting of the Directors of Liverpool FC it had been decided to place me on the transfer list.

On the Monday morning I went in to see the great man as I was very upset. He then proceeded to make the most wonderful sacking any manager has ever implemented.

He said to me “George son there are five good reasons why you should leave Anfield now.” I was puzzled and asked what they were. “Callaghan, Hunt, St John, Smith, and Thompson” he replied “The first team forward line, they are all internationals”.

I was in tears by now, and it was then that he showed his motivational powers, humanity and greatness when he said the words I will never forget. “George son always remember that at this moment in history you are the twelfth best player in the world” When I asked what he meant by this outrageous statement he replied “The first team here at Anfield son is the greatest team in the world and you are the leading goalscorer in the reserves. I have sold you to Aberdeen go back home and prove me right”

As I was leaving his office very upset, he made his final comment. ”Son remember this, you were one of the first players to come here and sign for me so I want you to think of yourself like the foundation stone of the Liverpool Cathedral.  “Nobody ever sees it but it has to be there otherwise the cathedral does not get built”

He also gave me a written reference that day which is still my proudest possession and which says the following.

Dear People

“George Scott played for my football club for five years from 1960 to 1965 and during that time he caused no trouble to anybody.

I would stake my life on his character

Bill Shankly

 

(Signed in red ink)The old Olivetti typewriter he used to type the reference is still on display in  the Liverpool FC museum

Istanbul May 2005

Having left Liverpoolin May 1965, here I was forty five years on from the day my Dad and I stood with Bill Shankly in the centre circle at Anfield.

The date was the 25th May 2005 and my oldest son and myself, were sat in the grandstand in the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul exhausted by the events that had unfolded below us.

As we soaked up the joy of a fifth Liverpool European Cup triumph, in quiet reflection my thoughts again wondered back to the beginning of the Liverpool success story on that winter day 45 years ago in January 1960 when my father, who sadly passed away in 1991 and I had listened on the Anfield pitch to the great Bill Shankly’s words.” You are lucky to be here son, because this stadium will be a bastion of invincibility, and this club will be the most famous club in the world”

On that unbelievable evening in Istanbul, 25th May 2005, who would have doubted the accuracy of that prediction?

Bill Shankly was a major influence on my life and I am sure the lives of countless other players and supporters of The Liverpool Football Club.

He will never be forgotten, his passion and enthusiasm lit up the game, and the standards he set have inspired me over the last 46 years since I first met him, and I am grateful that I crossed his path.

The 1960’s was a period where there were only black and white television pictures; there were no mobile phones, no computers, no sky television and no action replays, no all seating stadiums, no sat navs, no football hooligans. The player’s shirts had no names on them and were numbered from 1 to 11.

There were no squad numbers, and kick off was 3.pm on Saturday. There was no freedom of Contract, no agents, no wags, no prawn sandwich brigade. The players played for the love of the game.

At Anfield the crowds were never below 53,000 and you could see the steam rise from the Kop. When Liverpool scored at the Kop end, the crowd moved like an ocean wave. It was a beautiful sight, and it really was the people’s game

Unlike Fernando Torres, Ian St John, Roger Hunt, Ron Yeats and the rest of Bill Shankly’s fabulous cup winning team would never have wanted to play anywhere else but Liverpool.

The game may be faster today and the players wealthier beyond their wildest dreams but if I could choose a football era in heaven it would be the 1960s and early 70’s at Anfield where I could still hear the wonderful Bill Shankly telling us that Liverpool Football Club and their fantastic support are the greatest in the world.

Written by George Scott

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