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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Liverpool football legend Bill Shankly's contract to manage Carlisle Utd found in archives

At first glance, it looks like the kind of dull legal document that can be found in solicitors’ offices everywhere.

But this two-page contract of employment, finalised and signed on October 11, 1949, is a fascinating piece of Carlisle United history.

For that was the day when a certain Bill Shankly – later to become a legend of British football – signed up to become manager of Carlisle United.

In many ways, this previously forgotten document captures a turning point in the great man’s life, when he turned his back on playing and began his career as a superbly successful manager, famous the world over for his transformation of Liverpool FC.

In 1932 Shankly spent a season as a player at Carlisle and sadly his later stint as the manager there was to be equally short.

Frustrated by what he saw as a lack of resources, he resigned after a year.

He went on to become one of the greatest managers in the history of the game, transforming Liverpool into one of the world’s most successful teams in a career there that spanned 15 years.

But his Carlisle United contract sheds a fascinating light on the life of a football manager in those early days.

The two page document was discovered by staff at Bendle’s Solicitors in Portland Square.

It reveals that Shankly, then living at 14 Tullie Street, was employed on an annual salary of £700 with just two weeks holiday a year.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson, who is a partner at Bendles, said: “Back in the 1940s and 50s the firm acted for the club and one of the partners, a man called Tom Sibson, was a director of the club.

“The contract came to light after Carlisle United’s managing United’s director John Nixon asked us to find some paperwork, and we found this document in our strong-room.

“We passed it on to them because it belongs to them, but it is also a fascinating piece of memorabilia.

“It’s pretty rare to find a document that was signed by a person who became a major national personality.”

Mr Nixon described the find as “fantastic”.

He said: “There was a such a lot of documentation to do with the club lost in the flood of 2005 and the discovery of Bill Shankly’s contract came completely out of the blue.

“I supposed that in those days the amount he was being paid was a pretty generous amount of money.”

Mr Nixon also remarked on the relative simplicity of the contract – markedly different to those which are standard for modern football club managers, often running up to 30 pages long.

Remarking on the short holiday entitlement, he said: “The managers in those days were expected to come back after their summer holiday to muck in with the painting and help with refurbishment.

“We’ll store the contract in our archive and perhaps put it on display – it’s an important part of our history.”

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