The Boot Room
The Liverpool Boot Room was a room at Anfield, home of Liverpool F.C., during the 1960s to the early 1990s where the coaching staff would sit, drink whisky and discuss the team, tactics and ways of defeating the next opposing side.
The Boot Room was a small room near the changing rooms that stored the squad's football boots. Bill Shankly converted it into an informal coaches' meeting room, with a relaxing atmosphere that paid dividends for a Liverpool side who were rebuilding at the time. The original members of the Boot Room were Shankly, Bob Paisley, Reuben Bennett, Tom Saunders and Joe Fagan. Neither Bennett nor Saunders ever went on to manage the club, however it was Bennett who remained at Anfield the longest.
Out of the five, Saunders was the only one to hold a full coaching certificate, but among them they provided the common thread that held Liverpool together for almost 40 years. Each man filled a specific role; Paisley was a tactician who had an eye for spotting a transfer target. Bennett, who was closest to Shankly, was the link to the manager. Fagan, in Roy Evans' words, was "the glue that held everything together". Fagan, however inadvertently, could claim to have founded the Boot Room in the sense that he was the first to store the crates of Guinness, given as a thank-you from the brewery's team, in the Room.
Paisley knew Liverpool traditions, having been a player, becoming a physiotherapist and then a coach. He also knew what the Liverpool faithful expected from their side. Fagan was quiet but very astute and a favourite of Shankly's, who had tried in vain to sign him as a player whilst he was the manager of Grimsby Town. Reuben Bennett was a friend of Shankly's as well as a work colleague and a decent player in his own right. After Shankly retired in 1974, the Boot Room tradition was carried on by succeeding managers Paisley, Fagan and Kenny Dalglish during the most illustrious era of the club's history.
In his diary, Fagan said about the Boot Room, "In time it would become furnished with luxuries like a rickety old table and a couple of plastic chairs, a tatty piece of carpet on the floor and a calendar on a wall that would later be adorned with photographs, ripped from newspapers, of topless models...there was little evidence to suggest this room was even part of a football club."
The Boot Room was also used for the training of future Liverpool managers. It became known as "the Liverpool Way" to promote from within so that the wheels would carry on turning smoothly in the event of a manager leaving. Paisley, Fagan and Ronnie Moran, who stepped in as caretaker manager on several occasions, were all trained in the Boot Room. Although Kenny Dalglish was not "educated" in the Boot Room, he realised the values that it brought and kept it during his tenure. The Boot Room was eventually demolished to make way for a press room during Graeme Souness' reign as manager in 1993. It produced yet another manager in Roy Evans when Souness left the club. Evans took over at the helm after a long education that began under Shankly. Contrary to popular belief the renovation of the boot room was a requirement rather than a request by Graeme Souness to demolish it.
Boot Room Honours
- Football League First Division (3): 1963–64, 1965–66, 1972–73
- Football League Second Division (1): 1961–62
- FA Cup (2): 1964–65, 1973–74
- FA Charity Shield (2): 1964, 1965
- UEFA Cup (1): 1972–73
- Football League First Division (6): 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83
- League Cup (3): 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83
- FA Charity Shield (6): 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982
- European Cup (3): 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81
- UEFA Cup (1): 1975–76
- UEFA Super Cup (1): 1977
- Football League First Division (3): 1985–86, 1987–88, 1989–90
- FA Cup (2): 1985–86, 1988–89
- League Cup (1): 2011–12
- FA Charity Shield (4): 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990
- "Reuben Bennett", www.qosfc.com
- The LFC Boot Room web site – history pages
- Honours at Liverpoolfc.tv
- Honours at LFChistory.net
- Legacy of the Boot room at BBC.co.uk
- Video footage of The Boot Room