A day after Liverpool FC and the club's fans marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bill Shankly, two of his greatest servants – Ian St John and Ron Yeats – met at Anfield to reminisce about the Scot.
The Scottish duo both joined the Reds in 1961 and represented the club for a decade, each racking up more than 400 appearances and collecting two league titles and an historic first FA Cup.
St John and Yeats reunited earlier this week to look back on Shankly's remarkable impact on Liverpool and share a number of anecdotes about the legendary manager's life and work.
Three extracts from the pair's chat are available for LFCTV Online subscribers, while the full transcript of their conversation has been completely reproduced below.
On signing for Shankly...
St John: When the boss was at Huddersfield he had seen us play; you playing for the army and me playing against you for the U23 team at Motherwell that night - we hammered you. He had seen us play against each other and he thought: 'I'm going to get these two'. And that was for Huddersfield. But they didn't have the money, they couldn't come up with the money and nothing happened. So when he came here a couple of years later, the first thing he did was to get the money and that's why you and I arrived here at Liverpool.
Yeats: I was in the army at the time and I got leave every weekend to play for Dundee United. I was quite enjoying it - I was getting a game every week. It was hard work playing and then going back to army barracks.
St John: When I first saw him, when he walked into the dressing room at Motherwell , he was always dapper wasn't he? He was always immaculate, dressed smart. He walked straight in and he said to me: 'Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football Club. You're coming to Liverpool.' I had been tapped up by Newcastle and I thought I was going to Newcastle, so I'd make up all sorts of excuses. But he said: 'Tomorrow morning we're leaving, the vice-chairman has got his car and we're heading off to Liverpool.'
Yeats: When we finally got together, it was in Edinburgh. I was walking down Princes Street in Edinburgh and I just bumped into this guy; I said 'sorry' and it was Bill Shankly. He went 'Ron Yeats?' and I said yes. He said: 'Bill Shankly, manager of Liverpool Football Club. We want to sign you.' I was taken aback really, I thought: 'Bloody hell, I don't know where Liverpool is, never mind anything else.' It was great. I went down to Liverpool to sign. He spoke for about five hours in the car, telling me we're going to do this, we're going to do that, we're going to win this. He was great at that side of it. I loved how he spoke.
St John: He was so positive about everything, there were no half measures. If he said we're going to do this, we did it.
Yeats: That really got me; I thought he was a very positive man and he knows what he wants and obviously he wants me. I was really chuffed to sign.
St John: I was chuffed that you came, big man, because we roomed together - they put us together and we roomed together for 10 years. I've got to say, this man was fantastic, making the tea in the morning. Having been in the army, you were very good and could do all that. 'Here's your tea and do you want your shoes cleaning?' 'Yes, thanks Ron'. You were a great roommate for 10 years.
On promotion in 1961-62...
St John: Liverpool were a Second Division team but he never mentioned the Second Division, did he?
Yeats: No, he didn't at all. I was surprised when I got there. We went through that year so easy.
St John: That first year, when we were in the Second Division and it was all brand new to you and I playing English football and playing in that division - we strolled it really. I remember the final game here; I missed the game against Southampton here that clinched it. I think I was suspended, Kevin Lewis played in the game. We won the game and all the fans came on, because it was an emotional thing. We were all getting lifted up shoulder high, it was just a fantastic day getting the club on its first step back. Nobody really knew where we'd be going after that but it was the start of what was going to be a tremendous 10 years for us.
On winning the championship in 1964 and 1966...
Yeats: In the first year back, obviously you've got promotion and you think it's going to be easy. But the First Division is something else. A couple of times that we played, we thought it was going to be easy and it wasn't.
St John: That was when the boss had to evaluate the team - good enough for the Second Division but a lot of the lads were falling down in the First Division. Willie Stevenson came in and was a great buy; Peter Thompson - a terrific player, a wonderful player. The young element at the club was the great thing. Bill Shankly brought through great players for Liverpool: Gerry Byrne, fantastic; Tommy Smith; Chris Lawler. They are three local kids. Ian Callaghan ended up playing 800 games. Which is fantastic. The new players got bedded in the team in that particular season, then that was us ready for the second year back into the First Division and, of course, we won that.
Yeats: I always remember when we had won the league or the cup or whatever, he would always start the season after and say: 'You've won that, you've won this, but always keep your feet on the floor.'
St John: He wouldn't let you get carried away. He would say to us at the start of every season: 'Now, you've climbed the mountain once, you've got to do it again and it's going to be harder the second time to do it again.'
On lifting the FA Cup in 1965...
Yeats: In the build-up, we were very positive going down to Wembley. Leeds were a bloody good side at the time.
St John: They were a good side. They were just behind us in development. Revie was building a great side there but we were ahead of them in terms of development. The night before we went to the theatre; Doddy was on in London and the boss took us to see Doddy. We were lucky to get out before midnight. It was a great build-up to the whole thing and we were relaxed.
Yeats: We were very confident. I was - I thought 'We're going to win this, we're a better team than them and let's hope it happens.'
St John: He had been in a cup final himself and he believed it was important that you had to be relaxed. Revie would shut the door to the dressing room and they had all superstitions; he was superstitious. They were all in there worrying, we were all having laughs and jokes, going out looking at the pitch. When we went out there, we were relaxed.
Yeats: I thought we played one of our better games that day. It was great for me because it was the first time the Queen had come to a football match.
St John: And you were the first ever Liverpool player to get his hands on the FA Cup. When you got up the stairs - we all walked up the stairs but you were up there first obviously - when you got to the Queen, what did she say to you?
Yeats: She said 'You must be very tired'. I'm not joking, I don't know why I said it, I said: 'I'm absolutely knackered here'. I could see her face, she started to smile and laugh.
St John: Because we had extra-time, it was a wet pitch - you were knackered. We were all knackered. But it was a wonderful feeling to collect the medals, come down and take the cup round Wembley. It was fantastic, wasn't it?
Yeats: We had won leagues from the Second Division but this was something else.
St John: Shanks had said that he felt it was ridiculous that Liverpool had never won the FA Cup. With the city, the size of it, and the fans we had, he said it was ridiculous that we haven't won the FA Cup. So, for him, it says on the walls here, that that was the greatest achievement to lift the FA Cup and bring the cup back to Merseyside.
Yeats: We nearly lost it as well, didn't we?
St John: We came off the bus from Wembley with the cup and we were going into the hotel. Tommy Lawrence had the base, he was supposed to be in charge of the base. He left the base on the bus and the bus ended up in Southend - the base of the cup was in Southend. Shanks went mad at Tom, didn't he? 'The first time we've won it and you've lost it'. You then gave the cup behind the desk. You should have taken it to your room, but you never.
On entering European competition...
St John: We won the championship in '64 and again that opened up a whole new ball game. Here we are in Europe, brand new to everybody.
Yeats: You talk about different teams and that, but one of the great nights was Inter Milan.
St John: Amazing night. We had just come back from Wembley with the cup, having played on the Saturday. This was the Tuesday. That night we came out with Gordon Milne, who had missed the final. What a pity that was; Geoff Strong stood in for him and played great. Gerry Byrne had the broken collarbone. Shanks said Gerry should have had all the medals that day. The two of them were going round with the cup, it had never been seen before in Liverpool. The crowd were unbelievable, the gates had been locked an hour before the game. And we played really well that night.
Yeats: I think we wanted it more than Milan. You think, Milan were a good side but we wanted it more.
St John: You couldn't have disappointed the crowd that night, we had to win it. We won it 3-1; remember, you let the fella run up.
Yeats: I thought he was offside!
St John: We weren't overconfident about going over to Milan with a two-goal advantage. But we didn't know what was to follow. The referee gave us nothing, he never gave us a throw-in. He gave them everything and they got the goals and beat us. It's the one thing that I just wish had happened for the boss. I wish we had got to the final that year.
Yeats: I think we would have won it.
St John: I think so. He would have been the first manager to win it and I think he deserved to be the first manager to win it. It was only because of a referee that we never got to the final.
On Shankly the motivator and tactician...
St John: The training was just a joy, to get the balls every day. We did everything with the ball, a lot of passing and other stuff to warm up. Then you warm up, you go into dribbling, shooting, heading - fantastic. It was all the basics of the game, but that's what the game is. They used to say 'If you can't give a pass or take a pass, you can't play'. The control of the passing was something he worked on a lot.
Yeats: At Dundee United, it was a small club. There was no training at all. So you had to do your own; I was running around the pitch and thinking 'What am I doing here?' But that's what you had to do. Of course, when you went to Liverpool, the coaches and everybody were there to say 'This is what we're doing today'. I relished it, I thought it was great. He would more or less tell you what you're going to do in the game. As far as what he wanted me to do, it was win the headed balls, tackle. He said 'I don't want you coming up for corners, I don't want you coming over the halfway line more or less.'
St John: I remember you came up for a corner once and I'm ready to make my run, getting away from their defender marking me. I thought: 'This is mine'. I'm just jumping and you landed on top of me with the guy that's marking you, and the two of you clattered. I said: 'Give us a shout when you're coming up'.
Yeats: We did most of the talking on the Friday or Thursday. He was fantastic really. On the Saturday he was relaxed; I don't know about half-time, if you were getting beat he was a different story. But we weren't getting beat at half-time most of the time.
St John: The Saturday was in the dressing room, relaxed, happy, jokes, laughs. People think he would be going 'Come on, come on' - nothing like that at all. With five minutes to go before we go out, anybody would be in visiting because he would let people come in and have a little visit. Bob's little mate, the little jockey Frankie Durr, would come in and be talking racing. We would all do that until about five minutes to go - he would clear the dressing room and go 'Right boys, remember this'; a few pointers and go out and enjoy it. That's what he always said: 'Enjoy the game'. I think he was well ahead of the other managers in football with his thinking. His training, yes - he was ahead of everybody there because we were the fittest team in the league from what we did. Tactics-wise, once we had gone into Europe and he could see we were playing against different systems, we became the first team to play a flat back four. He brought Tommy Smith in and put him beside you, two centre-backs and two full-backs pushing up and Tommy Lawrence coming out to the edge of the box. Our fans at the time were going 'What are you doing?' Smithy had the No.10 on his shirt and they were shouting 'Smithy, get up the park' because the No.10 was always up alongside the centre-forward. He should have been up alongside me and Roger, but Smithy was there with you. It took the fans a wee while to understand what was happening.
On his revolution of Anfield and Melwood...
St John: When you think back on the facilities at the time, Melwood was just an old cricket pavilion. Shanks had said when he had gone and looked at it that it all had to be changed. The pitches weren't as great as they should have been so he must have got extra ground staff, because gradually the pitches were magnificent. The old cricket pavilion eventually got pulled down and rebuilt - new dressing rooms and bathrooms and everything. Down the stairs in the cricket pavilion, they used to have this one big bath - you could have a swim in it and there was no hot water. It was horrible. But over the years it got better; as we advanced as a team, all the facilities got better. When you see Anfield now, you say it is terrific - all these little areas they have got, restaurant areas, bars. There was nothing like that. I always remember him saying that while he was developing the team, he was also developing the stadium. As we were getting better, started winning championships, they started knocking the place around.
Yeats: It was fantastic later on in our careers. We were still playing and all these facilities were here. It was very good.
St John: Do you remember the Anfield Road end, when they reconstructed that? For a season it got flattened and then rebuilt. It was still standing, of course, no seating. We had gone onto a system through the '60s of a crowd bonus. We were getting a crowd bonus, which was great for us because the basic wage was about £40 a week. We got a crowd bonus of £1 a thousand over 28,000. So if there were 30,000 in the ground, we got £2. But we were filling the ground with 45,000. It was a good system, wasn't it?
On Shankly in the transfer market...
St John: Shanks should get great credit. Although he bought us, he didn't spend a lot of money. He got Peter Thompson from Preston for not a lot of money. Stevenson was over in Australia; he brought him back from Australia, he had left Rangers and was out there - he must have got him for a song. So there was no big splashing out. Later on in his career at Liverpool, he was bringing in players like Emlyn - he brought in Emlyn Hughes from Blackpool for a small fee; Alec Lindsay from Bury, small fee; Larry Lloyd from Bristol Rovers, small fee. He was building up without splashing millions of pounds. It was amazing what he could do. He could spot talent. He went on further and got little Kevin and Ray Clemence, from Scunthorpe, both turned into international players. You think: how did he manage that? Buying players who were there for anybody else if they wanted them - but he would get them, bring them here and put them through the system of learning the game, doing it simple: give passes, take passes, give it to the nearest Red jersey and also playing together as a team, for the team. Everybody played for the team and the crowd.
On battles in the boardroom...
St John: The fans might not know about this story. Johnny Morrissey was a good player but Everton signed him. They signed him over Shankly's head, the board sold him. I remember, I was in the treatment room in the afternoon getting something done. Reuben came in and he said: 'The boss is leaving - they've sold Johnny Morrissey to Everton over his head.' He had carte blanche for players coming in and going out. But the board had thought it was quite a nice little earner to get rid of Morrissey, and didn't clear it with Shanks. So he was going to leave. There had been an almighty row about it, and he won the battle again. He always talked about it years later, how he had won all the battles in the boardroom. That was one of them. 'Nobody leaves this club unless I say it, nobody comes in unless I say it.' That was him, he was running the show then. The reason he never came to Liverpool earlier from Huddersfield was because the directors picked the team. The manager would submit the team and they would look at it and go 'I'm not too sure', cross a name out and put somebody else in then give it back to the manager. That's why he didn't come. He said: 'Who picks the team?' They went 'Okay, you pick the team', and he said 'Right, I'll come'. But then they did the Morrissey thing over his head and nearly lost him.
On the 'Steak Diet'...
St John: Diet and all that in today's football is very important. They might laugh at our diet, which was fillet steaks. Shanks being a great boxing fan, Joe Louis was his hero. Joe Louis trained on steaks; he said 'If it's good enough for Joe Louis, it's good enough for us'. On a Friday, for instance, when we were going away from home we would get in the hotel and have a fillet steak. On the Saturday, before the game, if you didn't have a big breakfast you were allowed to have a steak at lunch - steak and just toast. After it, on the way home, it was steak again. That was Friday, Saturday and then Saturday after the game. We were winning; people were saying 'Should it be good for them, eating all that steak?' We were winning the league and winning cups. That was Shanks' menu for before and after games - it didn't do us any harm, did it?
Yeats: It didn't at all. In fact, I enjoyed the steaks.
St John: I wouldn't know what to eat now. If somebody had suggested pasta or something to the boss...
Yeats: 'You're having steak!'
St John: Little John McLaughlin, a lovely midfield player but very slight build. Shanks said: 'I've got a connection at the abattoir, go up and get your parcel of steaks every week to build you up. John went and got his parcel of steaks and it was going well. After about six months, he came in to see the boss. He said: 'Boss, I've got to tell you, I'm getting married'. Shanks said: 'No, son, you get married in the summer. You don't get married in the football season.' He said: 'I've got to get married, my girlfriend is pregnant'. Shanks said: 'What? Bob, Joe, Reuben - we've created a monster with these steaks!'
On Shankly's relationship with the fans...
St John: As we were developing as a team, going through from our Second Division days, the crowd were immense. Guys tell you on that Kop, you struggled to get a spec because it was packed week in, week out. Even the boys' pen was packed.
Yeats: I enjoyed every minute of it. Usually as a player, you think 'We're going to win today'. But you always thought you were going to win, you expected to win. You could hear the crowd; always it was 'Bill Shankly', which was good.
St John: His connection with the crowd was quite amazing - it was a love affair. He loved them, they loved him. The things that he did, no other manager would do. I remember at times where we would be away playing somewhere, as we're all getting on the coach after the game, there would be some lads hanging about. Shanks would say: 'How are you getting back to Liverpool? Go up there, sit on the back of the bus'. I don't think there would be any another club in the country that would tell the fans to get on the back of the bus.
Yeats: He has been seen giving tickets out as well - 'There's a ticket for the game'.
St John: All the time - 'Have you got a ticket for the game, son? There you are.' He did all these things. Our lads used to joke that he loves the crowd more than he loves us. I think it was true. We're in a room here with all the pictures of Bill Shankly, in the Shankly suite, and you go outside and there's a statue - 'He made the people happy'. Do you think that was the right epitaph for him?
Yeats: He made everybody happy: players and the fans, of course. He was that kind of man. I never saw him being cross. When you hadn't played well and you knew you hadn't played well, he wasn't one of those managers who would say: 'You were awful today'. He was that kind of man.
St John: He built people up. He made us happy. He made the fans happy because he gave them something that they had never had before - which was success. He had promised them that. He put them in promised land by saying we're going to be this, we're going to be that, we're going to be the best team in the world. He kept his promises up to a point; maybe not becoming the best team in the world, but in the eyes of the fans we were the best team in the world. The whole success of the present Liverpool, worldwide - because it's now a huge worldwide fan base, as you see when the club goes away on pre-season tour - all that stemmed from one man. It's amazing.
Yeats: It's amazing what he has done for this club.
St John: And to think it could have been Huddersfield.
Yeats: And the two of us there! It's all down to him, this club. I don't think it could have survived without Bill Shankly.
St John: Yes, you wonder where it would have gone if they had got another manager then and not him. Where would they have been in the pecking order of football clubs?
Yeats: We might have still been back in Scotland...