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Shankly’s Village By Adam Powley & Robert Gillan

Release date: 01st December, 2015
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £18.25
You Save: £0.74 (3%)
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The name of Glenbuck, now a deserted, overgrown former mining village situated in south west Scotland, is one that resonates with football fans of a certain vintage.

It was never a thriving metropolis, but many of its citizens could eke out a meagre living from working down the pit until, in 1934, the cruel economics which marginalised coal mining put paid to that and the village’s last remaining mine was closed.

Yet Glenbuck’s legacy extends far beyond the period of its mining heyday between 1870 and 1930 as Shankly’s Village makes abundantly clear.

“At the village’s peak population,” state the book’s authors, “Glenbuck produced a footballer for every 35 inhabitants…London,[with a current population of 8.6 million] would need to be churning out almost a quarter of a million professional footballers – from one non-league club – to keep up with the sporting fecundity of tiny Glenbuck.”

Most famously of all, Bill Shankly was born and raised in Glenbuck where he lived in unbelievably cramped conditions before donning the famous Glenbuck Cherrrypickers shirt. Shankly would go on to play at the highest level and represent Scotland before turning his attention to football management.

In 1959, following coaching spells at Carlisle and Huddersfield, Shankly took over at Anfield with a personal remit to turn Liverpool from a down-at-heel Second Division club into champions. Not only did he succeed, he turned the club into serial winners, laying the foundation to what became – and remains – Britain’s most successful football club.

But Bill Shankly was not the only football star to be born in Glenbuck; two of his brothers, Jimmy and Bob, would become professionals, while as far back as 1900, Sandy Brown, known as ‘The Glenbuck Goalgetter’ propelled Spurs to their first FA Cup success. George Halley, another Glenbuck man, would win the FA Cup with Burnley; Bob Blyth, yet another native of this remarkable village, would play for, manage and become chairman of Portsmouth.

The list goes on. What was it about Glenbuck that resulted in so many of its menfolk becoming accomplished professionals?

The authors of this well-researched, immensely readable book, maintain that the village’s legacy was to instil the merits of “collective purpose”, hardly surprising considering Glenbuck’s principle industry: men who go down the pit together must work together otherwise they put everyone else at risk.

Shankly – and no doubt the rest of Glenbuck’s footballing diaspora – always appreciated that playing football was an easy option compared with mining. This undoubtedly motivated men who had witnessed genuine hardship in their place of birth, most of whom understood that if they were not successful as footballers, working down the pit was the only remaining option.


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