In December 1959 the Guardian ran a story on a struggling Second Division club: “W. Shankly was appointed manager of Liverpool last night at a salary reported to be £2,500 a year.”
Five years on, the struggle was just a memory. The Guardian's Eric Todd was at Anfield to watch Shankly's dramatically reshaped Liverpool surge to the Division One title. “The handclapping created the impression of millions of dried peas being dropped on a corrugated iron roof... The Liverpool players did a lap of honour. As they reached the Kop, they slowed down – I swear some of them bowed – a deserved tribute to a section of the local population which, if it did but know it, 'rode sublime upon the seraph-wings of ecstasy'. If the Kop thinks that too fancy, no matter. 'Ee I Alley Oh, Liverpool are the champs.' Europe has been warned.”
The extraordinary Shankly years are just part of Liverpool's remarkable history – the club growing from a 19th-century base to become European football's dominant force, powered by some of the game's greatest stars, from Billy Liddell to Ian Rush.
Based on original reports from the Guardian and Observer archives from the last 120 years, this unique collection revisits 20 of the club's defining matches, from its first FA Cup final in 1914 and the rise and fall of Kenny Dalglish, to one almighty night in Istanbul. What are the lessons of Liverpool's past, and what does its future hold?