This book is about a man. And a ritual.
The ritual occurs every Sunday.
On Saturday 7 March, 1970, Leeds United Association Football Club came to Anfield, Liverpool. That afternoon, fifty-one thousand, four hundred and thirty-five folk came, too. Fifty-one thousand, four hundred and thirty-five folk to watch fifth play first. But that afternoon, fifth failed to score and first failed to score. And that afternoon, fifth drew nil-nil with first. And that evening, first were still first. And fifth were still fifth.
This book is about a man and a ritual. And an obsession.
The obsession is. Win.
What do you see in these hands, son? What do you see?
Nothing, said Emlyn Hughes. Nothing, Boss.
Bill nodded. And Bill said, You get nothing for coming second, son. Because if you are second, you are nothing. You are nowhere -
First is first. Second is nowhere.
The obsession is. Don't fail.
Bill knew failure could become habitual, defeat become routine. Routine and familiar. Familiar and accepted. Accepted and permanent. Permanent and imprisoning. Imprisoning and suffocating. Bill knew failure carried chains. Chains to bind you. You and your dreams. To bind you and your dreams alive. Bill knew defeat carried spades. Spades to bury you. You and your hopes. To bury you and your hopes alive. Bill knew you had to fight against failure.
This book is about a man and a ritual and an obsession. And about love. Limitless.
But then who will you be, said the boys. If you come out to play, then who will you be, Bill? Which player will you be?
Bill laughed. His heart beating. Beating and healed again. And Bill said, Liverpool, of course. I'll be Liverpool, boys.
This book is about a man and a ritual and an obsession and about a limitless love.
A returned love.
And this supporter, this supporter in his white boiler suit and his tall red hat, with tears down his face and despair in his voice, this supporter held Bill. Tighter, tighter. This supporter hugged Bill. Harder and harder. Squeezed him as though he would never let him go. And this supporter begged and pleaded and cried, Please don't go, Mr Shankly. Please don't leave us. Please stay, Mr Shankly. Please stay with us, please...