Born just 20 miles and four years apart, two gritty Scots from mining backgrounds were the titans of football in the North West in the 1960s.
Matt Busby steered Manchester United to European Cup glory while Bill Shankly brought Liverpool out of the Division Two wilderness to top flight success.
The pair shared a great admiration for each other and were firm friends. So much so that Shankly called Busby ‘the greatest manager that ever lived’.
Equally determined in their different ways, both had a fierce passion for the game which surfaced whenever their teams faced each other in the cup or league.
In fact, Busby actually played for Liverpool from 1936 to 1945 after joining them from Manchester City for a transfer fee of £8,000. He was a talented inside forward who’d won the FA Cup with City in 1934.
While at Anfield, Busby looked after newcomer Bob Paisley, who would become one of Liverpool’s most celebrated managers. The two remained lifelong friends.
Born in a pitman’s cottage in Orbiston, North Lanarkshire, in May 1909, Busby played for Lanarkshire side Denny Hibs, before coming to Manchester at the age of 18.
His playing career ended in the Second World War when he signed up for national service with the King’s Liverpool Regiment. During the war he turned out for a number of clubs including Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Reading and Hibernian.
Busby got his first taste of football management as a coach in the Army Physical Training Corps. He became United manager in October 1945, taking over from club secretary Walter Crickmer.
Shankly was born in Glenbuck, Ayrshire, in September 1913. He played right half for Carlisle United and Preston North End before becoming Carlisle manager in 1949.
After stints at Grimsby Town, Workington and Huddersfield Town, Shankly joined Liverpool in December 1959 while they were still in the Second Division. His first task was to win promotion.
He achieved his aim in the 1961-2 season after two near misses. A coveted place in the First Division awaited – and, along with that, Matt Busby and Manchester United.
The two had already faced each other at Anfield in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in January 1960. United were 3-1 winners with two goals from Bobby Charlton, but got knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday in the next round.
The Reds faced the Red Devils in the league in December 1960 in pulsating 3-3 draw at Old Trafford. On the scoresheet for United were Johnny Giles, David Herd and Albert Quixall.
Liverpool were 1-0 victors in the return fixture in May. In the same season United secured their first major trophy for six years by winning the FA Cup 3-1 against Leicester City.
The league clashes between the two clubs in 1963-4 resulted in a double for the Merseysiders with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford and a 3-0 win at Anfield.
It was a good season all round for Liverpool who claimed the league title with 57 points, finishing four points ahead of second-placed United on 53.
Busby’s Red Devils got their revenge the next season by doing the double over their Merseyside rivals. They won 2-0 at Anfield in October and 3-0 at Old Trafford in April.
United also went one place better in the league to finish as champions with 61 points. Top scorer for the season was Denis Law with 39 goals in all competitions.
It was honours even in the First Division in the 1965-6 season after the teams played out a 2-2 draw in the Charity Shield at Wembley. United won 2-0 at Old Trafford and lost 2-1 away.
United were back on top form in 1966-7, taking the league title with 60 points while Liverpool finished fourth on 51.
There was a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in December with George Best scoring twice. The return fixture ended goalless.
The cat-and-mouse battle between the two managers paled into insignificance in the 1967-8 campaign as Busby’s Red Devils became the first English club to win the European Cup by defeating Benfica 4-1 at Wembley.
Busby retired as United manager in 1969, but came back to face Shankly once more in the league in April 1971 when he stepped in as caretaker manager after the departure of Wilf McGuinness.
The Red Devils lost 2-0 at home to a powerful Liverpool side featuring the new signings of Ray Clemence, Larry Lloyd, Alec Lindsay and Steve Heighway.
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