Les Shannon

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Les Shannon
Personal information
Full name Leslie Shannon
Date of birth (1926-03-12)12 March 1926
Place of birth Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Date of death 2 December 2007(2007-12-02) (aged 81)
Place of death Leighton Buzzard, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[1]
Playing position Centre-forward / Inside-forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1944–1949 Liverpool 11 (1)
1949–1958 Burnley 263 (39)
Total 274 (40)
National team
1952–1956 England B 3 (0)
Teams managed
1966–1969 Bury
1969–1970 Blackpool
1971–1974 PAOK
1975–1976 Iraklis Thessaloniki
1976–1977 Olympiacos
1978 Panachaiki
1979–1980 OFI
1980–1981 Brann
1982–1984 OFI
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Leslie "Les" Shannon (12 March 1926 – 2 December 2007)[2] was an English football player and manager.

As a forward, he scored 40 goals in 274 league games in the Football League, playing for Liverpool between November 1944 and November 1949 and then for Burnley from November 1949 to August 1958 following a £6,000 transfer. He also won three caps for the England B team. He coached at Everton and Arsenal, before he embarked on an 18-year career in management in England, Greece, and Norway. He is considered by Greek fans and media to have been one of the most successful foreign managers to ever work in Greek football.[3] His first management role was at Bury from 1966 to 1969; he took the "Shakers" to promotion out of the Third Division in 1967–68, though they were twice relegated. He took charge at Blackpool, leading the "Tangerines" to promotion out of the Second Division in 1969–70. He spent the 1970s in Greece, and found most of his success with PAOK, taking the club to two Greek Cup titles. He also won the Greek Cup with Iraklis Thessaloniki. He also took charge at Olympiacos, Panachaiki, and OFI. He also led Norwegian side Brann to promotion into the top-flight in 1980. He returned to England 1984, and scouted for Luton Town for 25 years.

Playing career[edit]

Shannon was born in Liverpool, he was rejected by Everton for his short stature (5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)).[1] A centre-forward, he instead started his playing career with his hometown club of Liverpool in November 1944.[4] The next year he scored against Merseyside rivals Everton in the Liverpool Senior Cup.[1] He made his debut for George Kay's "Reds" in the Football League four years later, against Manchester City at Anfield on 17 April 1948, as a substitute for Albert Stubbins.[4] His only goal for the Merseyside club came the following season, in a 2–1 win at Sheffield United on 30 August 1948.[4] This was his only goal in a sequence of ten appearances, and he was dropped from the first team.[1]

He was sold to First Division rivals Burnley for £6,000 November 1949.[1] He dropped back to the inside-forward position,[4] and was described as "a feistily competitive, yet subtly creative, inside-forward cum wing-half".[1] However he disappointed in the 1949–50 (one goal in eight games) and 1950–51 seasons, before he showed his potential in the 1951–52 (11 goals in 34 games) season.[1][5] He replaced Billy Morris as Jimmy McIlroy's midfield partner in the 1952–53 campaign, and scored 16 goals in 46 appearances as the "Clarets" posted a sixth place finish under the stewardship of Frank Hill.[5] Shannon claimed nine goals in 33 matches in the 1953–54 campaign, but after Alan Brown was installed as manager he only found the net just once in 43 appearances in 1954–55.[5] He scored twice in 44 games in 1955–56, claimed two goals in 27 matches in the 1956–57 season, and then scored two goals in 38 games in 1957–58 under Billy Dougall's stewardship.[5] He fell out of the first team picture under new boss Harry Potts in 1958–59, playing just eight games.[5] Shannon retired from playing first-team football in August 1959,[1] and captained Burnley's reserve team for a year. In total, he scored 44 goals in 281 appearances at Turf Moor.

Coaching and management[edit]

In 1959, Shannon moved into youth team coaching with Everton, and remained at Goodison Park for three years.[4] In 1962, he joined Billy Wright's backroom staff at Arsenal, rising to the rank of assistant manager.[6]

After four years at Highbury, Shannon took over as manager of Second Division Bury. Bury finished bottom in his first season in charge, and Shannon was sacked, only to be re-instated two months later following boardroom changes at Gigg Lane.[1] He guided the "Shakers" out of the Third Division the following season as runners-up to Oxford United, only to see them make the drop again in 1968–69.

After Bury's relegation, Shannon replaced Stan Mortensen as manager of Blackpool, with whom he had instant success, finishing as runners-up to Huddersfield Town and winning promotion back to the First Division. This was achieved without the services of the club's star player, Tony Green, who sat out the entire 1969–70 season due to injury. In 1970–71, however, Blackpool finished bottom and were relegated to the league's second tier once again. Shannon had left his position only two months into the season and after only seventeen months in charge. He was replaced, in a caretaker role, by Jimmy Meadows; his permanent successor at Bloomfield Road was Bob Stokoe.

Shannon accepted an offer to work in Greece in 1971, where he coached PAOK to fifth in Alpha Ethniki in 1971–72. He also led the club to victory in the Greek Cup in 1972 with a 2–1 win over Panathinaikos at the Karaiskakis Stadium; Giorgos Koudas scored both goals. He then took the club to second place in 1972–73, just two points behind rivals Olympiacos. They also had to settle for second place in the Greek Cup, as they lost 1–0 to Olympiacos in the final. In the European Cup-Winners' Cup they reached the quarter-finals, bowing out to Italian giants AC Milan. He departed the Toumba Stadium following a fourth place finish in 1973–74. Before leaving he guided the club to another Greek Cup title, as they beat Olympiacos on penalties.

He moved on to another Salonica club, Iraklis, with whom he won their first and only major trophy to date, the Greek Cup, in 1976, as they beat Olympiacos on penalties at the Nikos Goumas Stadium. They posted an eighth place finish in the league in 1975–76, before he departed the Kaftanzoglio Stadium.

Shannon moved on to Piraeus club Olympiacos, taking them to a second place finish in 1976–77. He then spent six months at the Kostas Davourlis Stadium coaching Panachaiki in Patras, who finished 15th in 1978–79. He then led Crete club OFI to 11th place in 1979–80. He then had an interlude back in England as an adviser with Port Vale.[7]

He had a two-year stay with Brann in Norway, leading Brann to promotion out of Adeccoligaen in 1980, and then to tenth place in the Tippeligaen in 1981. He then departed Brann Stadion.

He returned to the Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium, leading OFI to seventh and eighth place finishes in 1982–83 and 1983–84. After this he returned permanently to Britain, where he settled in Bedfordshire. He became a scout for Luton Town in 1986, and remained at Kenilworth Road until 2001.[4]

Later life[edit]

Shannon's knowledge of football led to his working alongside Pelé in co-ordinating the football sequences of the 1981 war movie Escape to Victory.[8] He was also enlisted as an advisor on the Channel 4 series The Manageress in 1989.[2]

Shannon died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. At his memorial service at the Square Methodist Church, Dunstable, former Manchester United manager Wilf McGuinness gave a speech, whilst one of the songs chosen was "You'll Never Walk Alone", sung by two of his great nephews Tom Wing and James Wing, a homage to his beginnings in football.

Honours[edit]

Bury
Blackpool
PAOK
Iraklis Thessaloniki
Olympiacos
Brann

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Les Shannon: Feisty footballer and coach". The Independent (London). 13 December 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Goulding, Neil (3 December 2007). "Adams saves day for Bury". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Macedonia newspaper, 2007 in Greek
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Player profile". lfchistory.net. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Scholes, Tony. "Burnley Career Stats". clarets-mad.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Match Programme". Arsenal.com. 18 March 2006. 
  7. ^ Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 262. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0. 
  8. ^ "Tribute to Les Shannon" – LastingTribute.com

Further reading[edit]

  • Calley, Roy (1992). Blackpool: A Complete Record 1887–1992, Breedon Books, ISBN 1-873626-07-X