Bill Shankly
Bill Shankly
Bill Shankly
● Bill Shankly (PNE)

born in Scotland

William Shankly was born on Tuesday, 2nd September, 1913, in Glenbuck, East Ayrshire.

The 5' 8 (11st 5lbs) midfielder temporarily transferred to Donald Turner's Thistle in October, 1943, from his parent club, Preston North End.

Aged 30, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 2nd October, 1943, in a 6-2 defeat at home to Dumbarton in the Southern League.

Bill scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 16th October, 1943, in a 4-3 defeat away to Falkirk in the Southern League.

He scored the last of his 11 goals on Saturday, 29th September, 1945, in a 1-1 draw at home to Aberdeen in the Southern League.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 22nd December, 1945, in a 5-3 defeat away to Queen of the South in the Southern League, having appeared as a Jag on 69 occasions.

His club-list included Cronberry Eglinton, Glenbuck Cherrypickers, Carlisle United, Preston North End, King's Park, St Mirren, Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Lovell's Athletic, East Fife, Arsenal, Norwich City, Luton Town and Partick Thistle.

Bill died on Tuesday, 29th September, 1981, in Liverpool, aged 68.

Bio Extra

World War II brought Bill Shankly to Firhill. He joined the RAF in 1939 and was posted to RAF Bishopbriggs, as one of his postings. The station was opened in 1939, and was a centre for anti-aircraft balloons, as well as a large transit camp for other RAF stations. Bill’s future wife Agnes (known as Nessie”) was also stationed at RAF Bishopbriggs in 1939. They married in Glasgow in 1944, and were together until his death. Bill was actually in the RAF for 7 years, so the military got their money’s worth there!

Bill was a miner. And came from the well known Ayrshire mining community of Glenbuck. His 4 brothers all played professionally. He joined Carlisle United in 1932, and spent a season there before joining Preston North End where he was known as a “ball-winning right half”. In 1938 Preston got to the FA Cup final to be beaten 3-1 by Sunderland. The famous club returned the following year, to win the trophy by beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 with a George Mutch penalty in the dying embers of the game. Pre-war he received the first couple of his Scotland International caps, gaining a further 7 during the war, and ended up with 12 caps for his country (5 "official"). Bill played for the club from 1933 until he joined the RAF in 1939. During his time in the RAF Bill was contracted to Preston North End, but played for numerous clubs round Britain, dependent on where he was stationed (including Thistle).

In the winter of 1939 he played for King’s Park (the unfortunate Stirling side who had the bad luck of having a Luftwaffe bomb land on their ground, (Forthbank). After a couple of further matches both the club and ground were closed down. Compensation was eventually paid out in the early 1950’s – to the successor club Stirling Albion!) As well as St Mirren, he had a single match for his future club Liverpool, when they beat Everton in May 1942. He played for Bolton Wanderers, and went to Wales where he played for Cardiff City and Lovell’s Athletic, a profession works’ team for a sweet factory in Newport, Monmouthshire. Arsenal, Norwich City and Luton Town beckoned before he arrived at Firhill. Bill first played for the Jags in October 1943, and by the time he was (eventually) demobbed and returned to Preston in 1946, he had gained a wealth of experience, but was 36-years-old. Bill played 69 times for Thistle, scoring 11 goals. He was in the Jags’ side that beat Hibernian 2-0 in June 1945 to win the Summer Cup. In the novel “Red or Dead” by David Peace the author includes a part on Bill’s knee injury, saying that a RAF doctor told him that his football career was over due to a cartilage injury he suffered with Preston. Bill came to Bishopbriggs, and after his first Thistle outing felt very painful. Thistle paid to have the knee looked at, with the offending cartilage treated. Bill felt that winning the Summer Cup in part paid his debt to a club with “wonderful people”.

He ended up struggling to get into the Preston side post-war, so when Carlisle United offered him their manager’s post, he took it on. He felt that Preston were due to give him a testimonial, but this was refused. Bill didn’t forget (and no doubt didn’t forgive either). After 2 years at Carlisle he moved on to Grimsby Town, Workington, Huddersfield Town before arriving in Liverpool in December 1959. In 1961-62 they won the Second Division title, them won 3 First Division titles, 2 FA Cup wins, 3 Charity Shield wins and the UEFA Cup in 1972-73. He retired at the end of the 1973-74 season, but had laid the foundations for a Liverpool dynasty. When in the RAF he was also a middleweight boxer, winning a trophy for this. He worked for a Liverpool radio station for a period after his retirement.

On account of his service during WWII, Bill is included in our feature piece, The Partick Thistle Returned →.


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