Legend is an over-used word in football but if anyone truly deserves such an accolade it is the late, Scottish-born football manager Bill Shankly. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest football managers of all time and rightly so. When he arrived at Anfield in December 1959 Liverpool Football Club were going through troubled times, to say the least. However through the strength of his personality and his obsession with football, Shankly awakened a sleeping giant and he laid the foundations for a team that would go on to conquer Europe, repeatedly. Even now, 30 years after his death, Bill Shankly is revered and respected. Liverpool fans loved him, not only for the success he brought to the club but also because he was one of them. He shared their passion for the game and he knew what the club meant to them. He was not driven by financial reward, and in that sense he was never well rewarded in the way managers and players are today. Bill Shankly was driven by a desire to succeed. His goal was to make the people happy and that's exactly what he did. He was a genius and he remains a true legend.
Tom Darby's book is an affectionate tribute to the man, the genius, and the legend that is Bill Shankly. There have been numerous books written about Bill Shankly and I have read many of them. Nevertheless I found this book a fascinating and easy read and by the end of the book I was left with an even greater respect for the great man from Glenbuck, Ayrshire. The book covers all the key milestones in Shankly's life, from his humble beginnings in a Scottish mining village, through his days as a player, his early days as a manager, and then his life as manager at Liverpool. It also reflects on his departure from Liverpool Football Club and considers how the club might have treated him better than it did in the end. In particular this book attempts to shed light on why Shankly was, and still is, loved so much by the people of Merseyside. Basically it comes down to his humour, his passion, his humility and his willingness to stop and talk. He always had time for people, his people and he would do anything for them. One thing I really liked about this book was the collection of letters included at the end, where ordinary people had written to the author to tell him about their personal encounters with the great man. You do not need to be a Liverpool supporter or even a football supporter to be inspired by Bill Shankly and this book will leave you inspired. I really enjoyed it and I can recommend it highly.