50 years ago: The Kop salutes Bill Shankly as he lifts last league title at Liverpool

Feature50 years ago: The Kop salutes Bill Shankly as he lifts last league title at Liverpool

By Glenn Price


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For a proven and ruthless winner, it must have been a strange feeling for Bill Shankly to celebrate a goalless draw.

Regardless, a First Division title is a First Division title, and the famous images of Shankly, scarfed up in front of the Kop, were created on this day in 1973.

They were produced in the aftermath of Liverpool securing their last league crown of the Scot's reign, having taken a point against Leicester City towards the end of a brutal 66-game campaign.

Tommy Smith lifted the trophy but the biggest cheers of that afternoon were reserved for the adored manager, when he got his hands on the title for the third time.

Shankly, who removed his jacket to reveal a red buttoned-up shirt, was the last one out from the worn-out squad and backroom staff, savouring every step of the laps of honour.

That afternoon was also the occasion he scorned at a police officer for kicking away a supporter's scarf that had been thrown onto the pitch.

"Nobody can do that with a Liverpool scarf," Shankly is quoted in newspapers afterwards. "This was almost sacred property to some kid and I was delighted when he came round later to ask me for the return on it."

They were his people and this, although he probably didn't realise it at the time, was his moment.

"I did my celebrating out there with our supporters, who are certainly football's champion crowd," he said.

In the Daily Mirror, Derek Wallis wrote: "I have never seen a manager savour a crowd, nor a crowd savour a manager, with such depth of feeling."

Shankly headed into that day somewhat tense and agitated, even though his side were well favoured to wrap up top spot.

So much so, Leicester gave a guard of honour and the matchday programme had more than strongly suggested Liverpool were already First Division winners.

"The fact that everybody said we had won it put the tension on the lads," Shankly said. "Even on the front of the programme for today's match, it said we were the champions. When I saw it, I was not too sure about it."

Leicester came to spoil the party and played with the freedom of a team that were comfortably safe from relegation.

They very nearly spoiled this 'procession', as others would have made you believe, as Mike Stringfellow forced Ray Clemence into a good save and then had a goal chalked off for offside midway through the second half.

All that tension dissipated towards the end of the game as both teams appeared to settle for a draw, prompting chants of 'champions, champions' from the Kop.

The crowd displayed their enamour with their manager when the celebrations finally began. But they would not be the last joyous moments of that lengthy season.

Indeed, a few weeks later Shankly's team delivered the supporters a first European trophy when they won a two-legged UEFA Cup final with Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-2 on aggregate.

Shankly delivered for the club and the people who worshipped it. It was a love affair for the ages.



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