Monday, September 02, 2013

What Bill Shankly might have said about transfer deadline day

On this day of all days, Bill Shankly's birthday, we see all of football laid bare. Transfer deadline day, where Shankly's famous quip about life and death will be crassly taken out of context. I heard a Sky reporter say yesterday we were "witnessing history" as the team bus pulled up at the Bernebau for the very last night time WITHOUT Gareth Bale.

And having just read the 720 pages of David Peace's new novel Red or Dead, there are plenty more things that Shankly said that apply to a day like today.

There's this about the players at the end of their careers, like many who won't get a deal today: "It comes to us all son. And so you have to be prepared. You have to be ready, son. Because you have to decide how you will deal with it. Will it be grace and with dignity? Or will it be with anger and with bitterness?"

And this: "I have always been ambitious. Not for me, but for the supporters. I mean, right from the start I tried to show the supporters that they are the people who matter. Not the directors. But at Carlisle, it was the same story. The same story as at Huddersfield later. The directors lacked the ambition... They were a selling club. Not a buying club."

So is the book any good? Yes, it's demanding and draws you in to its repetitive style, but the second half, charting his retirement is heartbreaking at times. It shows an incredible generosity of spirit and of selfless good deeds from a great man.

I thought Frank Cottrell Boyce nailed it with his review in the Observer.

And if you want more on David Peace, then Phil Thornton did a brilliant interview with him.

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