Football: PICTURES THAT MAKE HISTORY; Special Book Bridges the Anfield Years in Top Tribute

Article excerpt


IMAGINE being given the keys to the vaults of Anfield Road and discovering the greatest football photo album in the world.

Well, it now exists in the shape of a new official club book, "A-Z of Liverpool's Greatest Pictures."

It contains over 400 images, packed into a classical volume which is a tribute to the glory of the Reds and the quality of the Echo's photographic team.

The present Picture Editor, Stephen Shakeshaft, has been involved with football photography since the sixties.

He recalls: "As a young photographer I remember the majesty of the Kop in the sixties, united in praise of the little man with his arms out wide, the great Bill Shankly.

"We had unlimited access then. We were allowed to lie alongside the posts on the goal line and when you pointed your lens, you were right in the middle of the action.

"We would be chatting away to the keepers and it was a wonder we didn't cause more goals to fly in with all this distraction."

"These days photographers are held well back and forced to use a long lens, which provides a very different type of picture."

Continued Shakeshaft: "We would be in the corridor before a game chatting to Shanks. Kevin Keegan would walk past in his shorts and carrying his shirt and boots. Bill would say 'Hi son, what's happening?'

"Shanks would say 'Don't press that flash in here son. You'll blind them before the game.' I can never imagine any photographer at any level having that type of closeness now. Obviously we were trusted.

"Photographers and fans could go to Melwood and walk straight in. No security gates for Bill Shankly. I remember going there when it was snowing. Larry Lloyd had just signed and I was walking round snapping shots. Bill said "What do you think of him son? I said 'Big lad'. Bill shouted 'BIG? He'd kick his own mother!'

"It was amazing he had asked your opinion. He wanted to know what you thought. Then he'd have a joke and give you stick.

"The picture of Ron Yeats on this page, flying through the air, is one of my favourites. I was not even sure he was in the frame because he came from a blind spot over my shoulder. It was as if he flew in from nowhere and the ball thundered into the net.

"Later I would see the pain when Shanks left. I was standing outside the ground with him on the day and felt the emotion in the man. He was with some fans, but he suddenly turned to me and said 'Have I made the right decision son?' What a question to have to try to answer. It summed up his strength, yet his vulnerability.

"It brought into my mind all of the pictures I had taken of him down the years. Two of my favourites are featured here' both taken at Wembley on what would be his last appearance as Liverpool manager. The first shows Shankly, alone with his thoughts. He clearly knew what was to come.

"The second features two Scousers who rushed across the pitch to salute him. …