Making Shankly (2017)

‘Making Shankly’ (2017): the mines were the real football factory

Football was the only way out of working in the coal mines. Bill Shankly was the youngest of 5 brothers (10 kids) who all became footballers for Glenbuck Cherrypickers. Over 40 years, 53 young men in Glenbuck (pop 1,000) became footballers, and 7 played for Scotland.

Friends and family in Glenbuck only knew Shankly as Willie. One former resident surmises that the area’s footballing success arose from the ethos of working in the mines and living in a small village in large families of kids. You have to have discipline, be able to work as a team, and look out for each other.  After a mining accident shut the Grasshill mine , it appears the village was abandoned and demolished.

Shankly became one of the generation of Tracksuit Managers from the 1950s. Before him, a manager had to make do with the Board of Directors’ decisions regarding players. A manager usually left the trainer to handle tactics and training. Shankly instead brought in training and dietary methods to Liverpool FC, ran practices, and tried to control alcohol consumption. He also established a bond with supporters. A historian depicts Shankly as the father of everything that happens now.

Writer-Director Simon Thornton was only 23 years old when he created Making Shankly. He was raised nearby and comes from a family of Scousers. His film debuted at Liverpool.

The film has some video of Shankly’s playing, but mostly this film is a mix of history and travelogue. Except, there is no place to travel to.

In some ways, this story is not unusual. Today in modern football, it is recognized that around the world, the great players of the game arise from poverty. I recently attended the funeral of my 93 year old uncle. His surviving friend, Mas Okui, talked about how much his own parents emphasized that he should go to college like my uncle. So that one day, he would have a job where he wouldn’t have to wash his hands after work.

5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5