First of a look at Shankly’s seasons at the Mariners
The Great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly cut his teeth at Grimsby Town with a season and a half at the club from the summer of 1951 to January 1954. He did have a brief spell at Carlisle United, after ending his playing days at Preston in 1949, but walked out blaming the ambition of the directors. We alas would hear the same thing as he moved on to Workington Town.
In those days having a dig at the board was not the done thing, but then Shanks was part of a new breed who spoke their mind. This of course was a long time before the non disclosure agreements that accompany deals that end by mutual consent.
Despite it not being the done thing Chairman George Pearce decided to give him a chance. Having dropped from Division One greatness between the wars we had found ourselves in the wilderness of Division 3 North. We also had a few First Division wage earnings adding to the mountain debts born of the dwindling crowds and fast sinking reputation.
The Scottish firebrand arrived in the summer of 1951 and they did not know what had hit them. Joining in with the 5-a-sides Shanks literally kicked the information into the underperformers gave them back their belief and added some steel to the side.
Soon the 5-a-sides would be an England V Scotland affair as Shanks charmed his fellow Scots to Blundell Park. The wheeler dealer raided his ex club Carlisle for wide boy Alex McCue and also enticed Wally Galbraith from New Brighton, Don McKenzie a Glasgow Rangers forward, Wally Freeburn from East Stirling and Jimmy Hernon an inside-left from Bolton. Bill Brown, a right back and Shanks` old Preston playmate came in to captain the side despite being semi retired as player manager at Elgin City.
Shanks also had time for Englishmen with Nottingham Paratrooper Roland Wheatley in from Southampton and perhaps a deal and a half to capture the central figure in his defence. Centre-half Bill Bellas joined from Southport for £1,000 plus the services of the unwanted Wally Taylor and Alf Barratt, reducing the wage bill in the process.
So the stage was set for the proud Scot to take us back into the League where we belong.
In his autobiography, Shanks claimed: ‘That Grimsby team was pound for pound, and class for class, the best football team I have seen in England since the war. In the league they were in they played football nobody else could play. Everything was measured, planned and perfected and you could not wish to see more entertaining football.’
In 1959 he became manager of Second Division Liverpool he would become one of the greatest managers of all-time, turning the Reds into an institution.