Bill Shankly's secrets revealed as long-forgotten newspaper column is given a new lease of life

Until Brian Clough came along, no football manager was quoted as widely as Bill Shankly, who was the undisputed king of the one-liner during his 15 years as Liverpool boss.

But although Shankly's mots justes became legend, it was rare for him to share more than a snapshot of his innermost thoughts with journalists.  He would seldom consent to a lengthy interview.  Ultimately, he looked back over his career in an excellent autobiography penned skilfully and sensitively by the journalist John Roberts, but there is not much else in the archives that explains in detail how he went about turning Liverpool from a team down on its luck in the Second Division to the one that in his time alone won three First Division titles, two FA Cups and enjoyed its first taste of glory in Europe.

In consequence, a book to be published in March will be of particular interest.

Shankly: The Lost Diary (Trinity Mirror Sports Media) reproduces for the first time in more than 50 years a series of columns that Shankly agreed to write for the Liverpool Echo newspaper in the summer of 1962, three years into he reign, after he had achieved the first part of his attempt to revive the Merseyside club by winning promotion as Second Division champions.

They were rediscovered by Chris McLoughlin, editor of The Kop magazine, while he was researching an article to mark the 50th anniversary of Liverpool’s promotion.

“Aside from his autobiography, there isn’t a publication out there in which Shankly, speaking in the first person, gives such a detailed account of how he set about restoring the glory days at Anfield," McLoughlin told James Pearce, a reporter on today's Echo.

“What makes this all the more exciting is that every word in this book was written before those glory days returned. This isn’t Shanks reflecting on the job he did after guiding Liverpool to league championships, FA Cups and UEFA Cup. This is Shankly talking in 1962 about a job he felt he was only just starting.”

The Echo reproduced an extract from the first of 14 columns that appeared under Shankly's name, in which he reveals both his unease about press coverage of his team and explains, with rather charming humility, that he felt the need to do something to "maintain interest" in the club.  Shankly wrote:

“When I was approached by the Liverpool ECHO to write a series of articles on events at Anfield since my arrival here about two-and-a-half years ago, I finally decided to undertake the commission solely to endeavour to maintain interest in football in Liverpool and district during the close season.

“I do not always agree with football reports in this paper and in the normal course of events, have no way of replying to such articles, but as I am now contributing, I feel very strongly that I must take this opportunity of emphasising this fact.

“It is not that I resent criticism of my team – indeed I am probably its sternest critic – but I feel criticism can sometimes be too strong. A case in point is the report of the recent match against Everton where the comments make me wonder if the reporter and I were watching the same game.

“In the course of the series, I shall touch on major and minor events inside the club, the problems of team selection, the little dramas which have been played prior to matches in relation to injured players and how decisions were made regarding a player’s fitness.

“My idea in this matter is to not only enlighten supporters of Liverpool football, but also to help bring those supporters closer together – if that is possible.”

Shankly: The Lost Diary is published by Trinity Mirror Sports Media on March 25.

Shankly: My Story - The Autobiography, originally published in 1976, after he had retired, and at first banned from sale in the Liverpool club shop because of critical comments Shankly made, was reissued by Trinity Mirror Sport Media in 2009 in hardback and is now available in paperback too.

Follow the links for more details and to buy direct from Amazon.

The books are also available from Waterstones and WH Smith.



The Lion who roared back - a footballer's triumph over illness, poverty and war

Julie Ryan was only a toddler when her father's football career was drawing to a close, too young to know anything about the goalscoring feats that made him a favourite with fans at Millwall, Brighton and Gillingham during the post-War boom years of the 1950s.

But as she grew up it became clear that the story of John Shepherd, who scored 121 goals in his nine seasons in the professional game, was a particularly exceptional one.

Barely 18 months before making an extraordinary Millwall debut in which he scored four times, Shepherd had been admitted to hospital in Cornwall suffering from poliomyletis, a dreaded disease of childhood and adolescence that claimed thousands of victims in the first half of the last century.

Shepherd, who contracted the paralysing illness while on national service with the RAF, lost all feeling in his left foot and doctors warned him he might never walk again, let alone realise his dream of professional football.

The dark days spent in an isolation ward hundreds of miles from his London home, the gruelling road to recovery and, against all odds, the fulfilment of that dream added up to a remarkable story, one that Julie felt for many years would make for a fascinating book.  But, as she was to discover, there was another part of her family history that was equally extraordinary.

Author Julie Ryan - John
 Shepherd's daughter
Her Madrid-born mother, Esther, had been only a few days old when the man Julie would later know as her Spanish grandfather had left to fight for the republican side against Franco's fascists in his country's horrific civil war.  It prefaced an upbringing defined by the heartbreak and anguish of separation that went on for so long that the family were not reunited until 10 years later -- in London, where they would settle and, of course, Esther would meet John.

It was a passage in their lives of which Julie knew only patchy details but which she realised, as she researched her father's life, could form a narrative just as compelling, if not more so.  It was a story, she decided, that had to be told and these two gripping and parallel threads of her family history, adroitly set in social and political context, have been brought together in a wonderful just-published book entitled In and Out of the Lion's Den: Poverty, War and Football (CreateSpace).

Julie, who now lives in Switzerland -- her husband, Andrew, is executive director of ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, based in Lausanne -- told The Sports Bookshelf how a long-nurtured idea eventually came to fruition.

"This book was something I had had in mind for a long time," she said. "They say every family has a story to tell, but I did think the story of my father growing up in poverty and overcoming polio to become a successful professional footballer was worth writing.

"It took me some time to get it started. But after moving to Lausanne in Switzerland I found I had more time on my hands and so the research finally began.

"The book took almost four years from the start of my research to publication. For the football side of things, I spent many hours talking with my father, often using his old scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings and match programmes to help piece his story together. I was also able to speak to some of his former team-mates, and this enabled me to offer a real insight into the life of a 1950s footballer, an interesting comparison to that of a professional footballer today.

"The other part of the book, which relates the story of my maternal Spanish grandfather who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, involved more extensive research.  He died some years ago, so I was reliant on stories handed down through the family, which I found can lead to many contradictions and inaccuracies that therefore needed extensive research to separate fact from fiction. My research took me to France and Spain, so my language skills proved useful."

John and Esther still live in Brighton, John now in his 81st year.  For Julie, piecing together the details of their lives was both a fulfilling and, at times, emotional experience.

"It was definitely a labour of love, and quite moving at times," she said. "My father had grown up in relative poverty, in overcrowded conditions in a house with no electricity, no heating and no bathroom.  He was evacuated during the Second World War, and later, at the age of 18, was sent off to complete his obligatory national service.

"It was during this time that he contracted polio, and doctors feared he would never walk again. The thought of my father lying in an isolation ward at such a young age, not knowing if he would walk again, let alone play football, still brings a tear to my eyes.

"Likewise, for the story of my grandfather José. I managed to piece together a very personal account of his suffering both during and after the war which I didn't fully appreciate or understand whilst he was still alive.

John Shepherd scoring for Brighton against Sheffield
United at the Goldstone Ground in March 1959
"I was too young as a child to know that my dad was a professional footballer, though one of my earliest memories is being at the Goldstone Ground -- Brighton's old ground, now demolished.

"In those days, the life of a footballer wasn't much different to that of the average working man. Whilst I was growing up, my dad was always involved in football and well respected on the Sussex football scene. I always felt a surge of pride when articles appeared in the Sussex newspapers about 'former Albion favourite, John Shepherd'.

"He went back to help at the Goldstone during the 1970s when he set up the first ever Brighton and Hove Albion youth team when Alan Mullery was manager.  Alan kindly contributed a foreword for my book."

John Shepherd's story is good enough -- and told well enough -- to warrant a publisher's attention even in the current, challenging climate.  Interestingly, Julie chose the self-publishing route, via the Amazon platform, CreateSpace.

"I contacted several publishers and received a fair bit of interest and some very useful feedback," she said.  "But the publishing world has changed so much so I decided to self-publish using modern technology, new media and direct routes to market.

"After extensive research, I decided that Createspace provided an independent publishing platform that was easy and economical to use, particularly for someone with computer skills.

"Luckily, I was able to do my own formatting and my 14-year-old son Nathan created the cover for me, which I was delighted with. Then it was simply a matter of using Createspace tools to upload the manuscript and cover and request a proof copy.

"I would certainly recommend Createspace to any aspiring self-publishing authors.   A big upside is that books ordered from Amazon.co.uk are printed on demand in the U.K. and are eligible for free postage under the Amazon 'super-saver' delivery scheme."

There are downsides to going it alone, however. Having a good grasp of grammar and spelling is vital if the end product is to look suitably professional, as is having some idea of how to market the book on a low budget.

"I worked as an administrator at the University of Gloucestershire for many years, where I also completed some courses on writing which ultimately helped me with the book project," Julie said "I was also fortunate to have the help of a retired professor from the university, with whom I had worked, who helped by reading my manuscripts and giving me invaluable feedback.

"My dad's former clubs, Millwall, Brighton and Gillingham, are all helping to promote the book via their websites, social media and match programmes.  In particular, Chris Bethell at Millwall was very encouraging and helpful during the writing of the book, and he is now helping promote it. I have been given a slot on Lions Live Radio to talk about the book.

"The Sussex Argus and South London Press are running articles and competitions to win signed copies. I am also promoting the book using social media and networking sites and websites, and my parents and brothers are proving themselves to be useful salespeople in Brighton!"

In and Out of the Lion's Den: Poverty, War and Football -- follow the link for more information and to buy.



Duncan Edwards - an author's quest to determine if he really was 'the greatest'

While it is easy and only natural to feel sad for Paul Gascoigne in his battle against the vicious combination of depression and alcoholism, some perspective is provided by recalling the fate of Duncan Edwards, 55 years on from Munich air crash that claimed his life and those of seven other Manchester United players among the 23 fatalities.

If Gascoigne's was a talent largely unfulfilled, arguably because of self-inflicted damage, Edwards was denied even the chance to realise his potential, the promise of greatness and glory extinguished when he slipped away in a Munich hospital 15 days after the United plane crashed attempting to take off from a snow-covered runway.

The story of Duncan Edwards has been told before but, many would argue, never with the depth of research behind it that James Leighton clearly invested in his biography, subtitled The Greatest, which is just out in paperback.

Leighton, who worked in the law before deciding he could no longer resist his passions for sport and writing, interviewed as many  surviving friends and team-mates of Duncan Edwards as he could track down, from the obvious -- including former coaches and teammates such as Wilf McGuinness, Harry Gregg and Kenny Morgans -- to the obscure, such as Dave and Pat Sharrock, who met Edwards at a Butlins holiday camp and introduced him to Molly Leach, the girl he intended to marry.

He produced a portrait of a star so deeply shy he would try desperately to avoid the spotlight, a boy who would introduce himself only as Duncan if he fell into conversation with a stranger, making no reference to his status as a Manchester United and England footballer.  He was happy to get around Manchester on his bicycle and bought a car only when it became impossible to travel on the bus without being mobbed.

The subtitle 'The Greatest' came from a comment attributed to Jimmy Murphy, who was Matt Busby's assistant manager at United during the Edwards years. “Whenever I heard Muhammad Ali on television say he was the greatest, I had to smile," Murphy said. "There was only ever one greatest and that was Duncan Edwards.”

What Leighton set out to do was not only to find out as much as he could about the working class boy from Dudley in the West Midlands but to establish how much of his reputation could be attributed to myth and how much was fact, to ask whether he really was 'the greatest'.

"I wanted to find out how people actually spoke of Duncan Edwards when he was still alive," Leighton said after the book made its first appearance in hardback in 2011. "Since his tragic death many revered figures in the game have said that he was the best ever but I had always wondered whether their judgement had perhaps been clouded by sentiment.

"Because of this I looked into the old newspaper archives to see what was being said of Duncan when he played and what I found staggered me. It seemed that journalists of the time used every superlative available to describe him. He was truly a boy wonder who people were talking about as the best in the world even before his death."

Edwards was the youngest player in the history of the First Division when he made his United debut in 1953, aged 16 years and 185 days. Two years later he played for England for the first time, at 18 years and 183 days, which made him England's youngest debutant since the war, a record that would stand until Michael Owen gained his first cap 43 years later.  In his five years in their line-up, United won two League Championships and reached the semi-finals of the European Cup.

According to the writers whose eulogistic praise Leighton unearthed, Edwards possessed pace and a powerful shot, could win the ball in the air and time a tackle to perfection.  He was comfortable on the ball in defence or going forward and could pass the ball with precision over even long distances. He played largely at left-half -- Bobby Moore's position -- for United but was equally comfortable leading the attack.

Had he lived it was expected he would be one of the stars of the 1958 World Cup and it might easily have been Edwards rather than Moore lifting the World Cup as England captain in 1966.  Some experts have suggested that Moore might not even have been in the team.

What happened in Munich, as the pilot of British European Airways Flight 609 tried in vain to get the United team home from a European Cup tie in Belgrade changed the course of football history.   Leighton's description of the crash has been hailed for being as vivid and poignant as any written.

Paul Gascoigne's decline into mental torture and addiction may be a tragedy but it is one from which he may yet recover, at least to the point of having some sort of life ahead of him. For Duncan Edwards, there was never that opportunity.

Duncan Edwards: The Greatest by James Leighton



Still 'My Time' for Bradley as book sales continue with no sign of slowing down

Cycling knight Sir Bradley Wiggins is continuing to provide the sports book market with a shot in the arm, even in the traditionally quiet period at the start of a new year.

The Wiggins autobiography, My Time, published by Yellow Jersey, was last year's Christmas hit by a massive margin, the fastest sports biography to clock up 200,000 sales since David Beckham's My Side in 2003.

But where other books that caught the reading public's imagination in the run-up to Christmas have tailed off a little, sales of the Wiggins story have kept on growing.

Nielsen BookScan had recorded almost 229,000 copies of My Time sold by the end of 2012 and another 11,000 have been added in the first month of 2013.  With renewed interest in Wiggins' two previous autobiographies, the Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist has sold 278,000 books since the close of London 2012.

This compares with a modest post-Christmas increase from 63,000 copies sold to 67,000 for Jessica Ennis's post-Olympic memoir Unbelievable: and an extra 2,000 copies for Victoria Pendleton's Between the Lines.

An analysis by The Times newspaper suggests Wiggins could earn £1.2 million on the back of his success, although that figure is dwarfed by the potential earnings Ennis can anticipate.

The heptathlete has been described as a 'sponsor's dream', combining good looks with a charming personality.  She has signed contracts with adidas and Pruhealth reportedly worth £450,000 a year and further deals could net her as much as £3.5 million, according to The Times.

Distance runner Mo Farah has endorsement deals with Virgin Media worth £500,000 and with Nike worth £430,000, which the analysis reckons will add up to £3 million earnings directly attributable to his two Olympic golds.

However, a Farah life story has been put on hold for the moment, although his representatives have denied a story that they were unimpressed with the size of advances offered.  They say they want it to be well researched and well written and that it will be released later this year, or in 2014.

My Time: An Autobiography , by Bradley Wiggins
Unbelievable: From My Childhood Dreams to Winning Olympic Gold, by Jessica Ennis
Between the Lines: My Autobiography, by Victoria Pendelton