FORMER Huddersfield Town manager Bill Shankly believed his move from Huddersfield to Liverpool was a “gamble” he had to take, a new book has revealed.
Shankly left the “comparatively sheltered calm” of being Town manager for the “cauldron” of Anfield.
The tough-talking Scot went on to become a Liverpool legend but his decision to quit Town for Merseyside wasn’t an easy one.
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Town’s lack of ambition at the time was a driving factor, however.
Shankly’s dilemma has been disclosed in his own words in the newly-published Shankly The Lost Diary.
The book is a collection of columns written by Shankly for the Liverpool Echo in the summer of 1962.
Shankly, who managed Town for three years before leaving for Anfield in December 1959, was honest and revealing in his writing.
The aim of the columns was to give fans an insight into the club and its players.
Looking back at his career gamble with both Town and Liverpool in the Second Division, Shankly opted for the Reds’ greater potential and ambition.
Shankly, who stepped up from reserve team coach at Leeds Road, famously gave a debut to promising 16-year-old Denis Law, who went on to become one of the game’s all-time greats.
Shankly, who had previously managed Carlisle, Grimsby and Workington, wrote in one of his columns: “After my playing days were over, I served my apprenticeship on the managerial side of football with struggling clubs, but although to call them that may be ungracious, it is a statement of fact and does not detract from my gratitude to them for the opportunity to learn the business.
“Then came the chance to come to Liverpool and this is the problem with which I was confronted.
“Here was a club which although it had a long spell in Division II, really belonged to the First Division (in my opinion), and it seemed to me that this was my chance of reaching the top and, in doing so, helping to build Liverpool once more into one of the leading clubs in the game. “At the same time I realised that although this was a challenge which everything within me urged me to take up, nevertheless it was a gamble as Liverpool supporters would only accept one thing – success.
“I was, at that time, leading as peaceful a life as any football manager can lead in the comparatively sheltered calm of Huddersfield.
“Was I to step out of this into the cauldron-like atmosphere of Anfield to undertake a task which, however much I put into it, could end in failure?
“Nobody can guarantee success and certainly not quick success, yet it seemed to me that the latter was being demanded and therefore the risk was doubled.
“With these thoughts in my mind, I visited Anfield. I talked with the board and I talked with the staff and had a look around the place.
“I liked what I heard in these conversations and I liked what I saw on my tour of inspection.
“From what I had heard and seen, I decided that even if the risk I was taking was great, it was nevertheless a calculated risk and one which I had to take because I am an ambitious man and I knew that the Liverpool club and its supporters were ambitious too.
“We were therefore sharing a mutual feeling. And so I decided to come to Anfield and arrived here nearly halfway through the season – mid-December 1959.
“At the time Liverpool were scratching around the top of the Second Division and there was obviously more potential and ambition there than there was at Huddersfield.”
After joining Liverpool Shankly spent 15 years building a formidable team which won three First Division titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup.
He retired in 1974, leaving behind a squad of players who went on to win four European Cups from 1977 to 1984.
Shankly died aged 68 in 1981.
The new book, published in the year he would have celebrated his 100th birthday, costs £9.99 but can be bought for only £7.99 from 0845 143 0001 or at www.merseyshop.com.