Shankly – 1965 FA Cup

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One of the most significant moments of Shankly’s reign at Liverpool was the FA Cup win of 1965. Winning the FA Cup was deemed by some fans as having ???the same parity’ as winning the Division 1 League Title. Others perceived it as ???the be all and end all’, regardless, it was appreciated a lot more in the 1960s than it is today.Newspaper reports from the time stated, ???the triumphs of triumphs as so far as a football team are concerned’, was winning the FA Cup. Ian Callaghan, who played for Liverpool in the 1965 FA Cup Final, said that playing and winning the 1965 FA Cup ???was on par with the 1977 European Cup final win’. Roger Hunt, who scored in the final, said that winning the 1965 FA Cup was a feat ???that I never topped’. Given that Both Callaghan and Hunt were members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad, this exemplifies the significance of this event. What made the event more momentous was that in the thirty years that proceeded the 1965 final, eleven of the twenty-two teams in the First Division had won the FA Cup. Not only were Liverpool FC not one of them, they had never won it in their history. Under Shankly, Liverpool were beaten in the Semi-Final in 1963 and in their history, had lost two finals in both 1914 and 1950. As the FA Cup had existed since 1872, it was vital that Liverpool won the FA cup and when they did it was a momentous occasion. Before the final is examined closer, the Semi-Final against Chelsea was also very significant in Liverpool’s quest of the FA Cup in 1965. Liverpool faced Chelsea at Villa Park in March of 1965. The Semi-Final victory over Chelsea was described in the Liverpool Echo as ???Liverpool’s finest hour’. This was of course soon to be topped by the winning the FA Cup at Wembley, nevertheless the fact that even winning the Semi-Final was discussed as surpassing winning the First Division further exemplifies the significance of the FA Cup at this time. When Shankly arrived at the ground, he found a programme designed for Chelsea reaching the cup final. He took it with him to the dressing room and pinned it to the wall, he then said to his players “stuff those wee cocky south buggers”. Shankly’s players responded and, despite a goalless first-half, Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Peter Thompson and Willie Stevenson. After the game, ???Thousands of wildly excited supporters poured onto the pitch, mobbing every player and carrying Thompson shoulder-high’, Liverpool were on their way to Wembley. When Leeds United and Liverpool walked out at Wembley on that day, both were eager to win ???the greatest of all English sporting trophies, the FA Cup’. The game itself was not the most thrilling, with no goals scored it went to extra-time. Three goals were scored in extra-time, Roger Hunt provided Liverpool the lead three minutes into extra-time only to be cancelled out by Leeds United’s Billy Bremner, just before half time. When Ian St. John stooped to conquer and scored a superb header with just three minutes remaining it proved to be the winner and Liverpool had won their first FA Cup. Shankly himself stated that ???Whether we entertained the people or not didn’t make any difference. In the end we had to go into extra-time, but we won the game’. During his moments of success Shankly became known for his speeches in the city when his team returned from cup finals. Many times, he stood on the steps of St. George’s Hall in the city centre and would deliver speeches that would rouse and ignite his adoring fans. Nevertheless, 1965 was different in that there was no speech for Shankly on this occasion, these speeches and ceremonies were evidence of a team practiced in winning, Shankly’s Liverpool were still establishing themselves. Despite this, the reception the players received was perhaps more special than anything Shankly would see in his entire managerial career. Shankly said when the players returned to the city all they could see was ???buildings and faces’, with many fans climbing and hanging from ???dangerous places’, but they did not mind as ???their name was on the Cup at last, and that was all that mattered’. The way in which this cup was celebrated illustrates that the Liverpool fans knew this was a huge moment in Liverpool’s history. Finally, they had won the FA Cup and they were consistently challenging in the league. Shankly was creating a golden age at Anfield and no triumph was celebrated more than the 1965 FA Cup, his ???greatest day in football’. The city was buzzing, it was ???estimated that well over half a million people’ were present to salute their team, it was ???almost certainly the biggest crowd that had ever gathered in the centre of the city’. This event brought great pride to Bill Shankly who kept a newspaper cutting of the day for the rest of his life and he said, ???I wouldn’t have been surprised if the lads had lifted the coach off the ground and carried us all to the Town Hall’. This event meant so much to the Liverpool fans, the FA Cup was a huge trophy and was celebrated more than when they had won the League two years previous. In the five years preceding and including 1966, Liverpool had won seven trophies, Shankly’s Liverpool looked untouchable. The Liverpool fans were riding the crest of a wave, a wave that was created by Shankly and they adored him and his team. Article by Peter Jones  
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