The Liverpool Way
Way back in the early part of 1959 the Liverpool Way was something that had yet to be invented. The club though did exist and was having a rough time in Division two, finishing in fourth, which even in those days was deemed unacceptable. The manager at the time was Phil Taylor, who as a player had been very successful at the club, but in an effort to stabilise the situation, he dropped the great Billy Liddell.
Now that simply was something you did not do and within days the Chairman at the time, T V Williams was receiving letters from disgruntled supporters who insisted he stepped in and sorted out what they considered to be a mess. This he did and he began to look for a new manager.
The affairs of the club continued in much the same way as they had done, but by the end of November they announced that Phil Taylor would be leaving the club as a new manager had been found. Now that man was Bill Shankly. He became Liverpool's manager on 2nd December 1959 and the Liverpool Way was born.
What is the Liverpool Way, I suspect is what many of the younger generation of Liverpool Supporter's often ask their parents and grandparents, having just been through three tumultuous years of back fighting and bitching in public from Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
The Liverpool Way is something that can be split into many different sections. The first and most important section of this was as Bill said the Liverpool family. From the moment that he was at the club, he ensured everyone was brought together. That is the, the staff, the players and most importantly the supporters. As far as Bill was concerned, everyone belonged to the same family and every interview he gave and every quote that was written in the newspapers of the time was directed at each and every one of us. Having stood mesmerized, whilst listening to him, I can assure you all, that you felt as though he was your father and that belief was immense. Bill could do no wrong and as we all know is still worshipped to this day.
The second section I guess is the Way Bill instilled into his players that they played for Liverpool Football Club and were expected to give nothing but their best for the club, every time they kicked the ball. These players were not like the players of today with immense wages and agents, but ordinary men who were trying to earn a living. They were also and I hope I am not upsetting anyone here, British which I think helped Bills philosophy to work. Many of them were local Liverpool lads but Bill being Scottish also looked at the Scottish leagues and brought players into England. An example of this is the Ian St John, who quickly adapted to his life at Liverpool and became a major player for the club.
These players quickly became part of Liverpool Football Club and the Liver Bird on their chest became something that to this day is deemed as extremely important. That is the symbol that we all look too when times are tough and it pulls us through. It was this belief that began the great rise of Liverpool Football club through the divisions and the cup competitions. The first of which was the 1965 FA Cup Final and to bring it up to date the FA Cup Final in 2006 when Stevie G did what Stevie G does best.
The third and final section is the one that covers what goes on behind closed doors. Bill Shankly who was never a lover of 'those upstairs' as he used to call them, left them to get on with the business of signing cheques etc. There were no transfer windows in those days, and if you felt you needed a player, your scouts would take a look, a decision would be made, and then the manager would inform the Chairman that funds were needed. That would be the end of it until you saw the players name in either the Liverpool Echo, or indeed the Pink Echo on a Saturday afternoon. Sometimes you would be standing on the Kop and a name you did not recognise was read out - Bill had been tinkering with his squad again but you knew it was for the best.
In the 1960's the media did not have the outlet it has today which of course curtailed their activity. A press conference would only take place if there was something major to announce and that was usually just a local reporter and his shorthand notebook, nothing more. It would feed down to the London press over the course of several days. Nothing was instant, there was no facebook, no computers and what appears to be the rumour mill of the moment, there was no TWITTER.
Fast tract to the twenty first century and with the world a very different place, the Liverpool Way was cast aside because of the antics of the two men who did not have a clue about the club or its traditions. They were as we all know, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. They became what I suspect a lot of people would call the darlings of the media.
Television had become a twenty four hour medium, computers had been invented as had mobile phones. News was now capable of spreading very quickly and once Facebook and Twitter arrived, the sky was the limit. Tom and George knew this and as their reign at the club became beset with problems, the club was all over the papers. It was business problems and arguments on the front with the football confined to the back - airing their dirty linen in public was not the Liverpool Way and the club began to suffer in more ways than it should have - I for one suspect that if things had been kept in house, it would have been sold a lot quicker than it was.
I have to admit though as a supporter, as the campaign to get rid of Tom and George intensified, it was great to be able to hold of the information we needed to help this along. Some of which, came from leaks within the club. I will also admit to getting in touch with several journalists and managed to get information out of them in return for giving them information, to ensure they got their exclusives.
I still correspond with these journalists, but mainly now to talk about matters on the pitch, for the simple reason the Liverpool Way is back and there is nothing out there.
The sudden turnaround of course is due to the appointment of a certain Kenneth Matheson Dalglish, who was at the club during Bob Paisley's reign. Bob had carried on Bill's traditions and when Kenny did his first managerial stint as Liverpool manager, he too followed the blueprint in front of him.
The club until his appointment in January, although under new ownership was still going through a bad period, there were leaks of discontent from the dressing room and the supporters were at the point of having a civil war with one another because of the managerial appointment that had been made by the previous owners.
Within seconds though of his appointment, which nobody had a clue was going to happen, the Liverpool Way was back. Although there had been rumours during that week, there was no indication it was going to happen and I think everyone including myself was relieved as well as happy. We had got our club back and suddenly everyone became one again.
Since that wonderful day, the owners, the clubs management, the players and us the supporters, have all pulled together because it is the Liverpool Way and with Kenny at the helm, that is how it will stay.