When Bill Shankly arrived at Liverpool in 1959, he established what is now widely regarded as the turning point for the club’s fortunes and the foundation on which decades of success have been built: The Boot Room.
The discussions that happened in that small, dark, damp room shaped the club into the giant of English and European football, creating a lineage of successful managers including Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran, Kenny Dalglish and Roy Evans.
And now BT is adding the story to their illustrious BT Sport Films series, with ‘The Boot Room Boys’ premiering on BT Sport 3 at 10.30pm, on Tuesday, April 5.
What to expect
The Boot Room Boys is an adaptation of Peter Hooton’s book, which goes by the same name, chronicling the behind the scenes discussions and debates that shaped Liverpool Football Club.
There will be contributions from the likes of Evans, Dalglish, Phil Thompson, Ian Rush, Sammy Lee and Willie Stevenson - as well as input from Jurgen Klopp and Pep Lijnders on how the historic institution shapes how they run the club today.
Sally Brown, BT Sport Films Executive Producer and Commissioning Editor, said: “The Boot Room Boys is a fitting a tribute to the legacy and influence of the Shankly dynasty, not just on Liverpool Football Club, but on the English game as a whole, and provides a fascinating insight into football management.”
If it is anything like the previous films from the series - such as ‘George Best, True Genius’ or ‘Two Tribes’ - then you can expect a gripping, in-depth look-back at a period of time which shaped not just Liverpool, but the wider English game.
What was ‘The Boot Room’?
Small, dingy and filled with the smell of sweat and leather, the boot room was exactly that: a boot room.
The coaching staff gathered in there originally because that’s where Fagan hid crates of Guinness often gifted from the brewery, or where others would stash small bottles of gin or scotch.
It was in that room, however, that Shankly established a culture that would transform Liverpool from Second Division mediocrity into one of the biggest and best names in world football.
It was in that room - so bare yet somehow so cramped - that Shankly and his associates would meet, pouring over everything from injuries and training drills to the rebuilding of a club that had fallen to pieces.
The original six - Fagan, Paisley, Moran, Evans, Tom Saunders and Reuben Bennett - would sit for hours on end drinking and pouring through Fagan’s diary entries for information and points of debate.
The coaches would also used the room to extract information from opposition managers, bringing them in and loosening them up with whiskey before prizing information from them.
The Boot Room created an institution of open conversation among Liverpool’s coaching staff and allowed some of the greatest-ever footballing minds to collaborate and learn from each other - it is no coincidence that two of Liverpool’s most successful managers after Shankly were Paisley and Fagan.
Their dynasty went further, creating what is known as the ‘Liverpool way’ in learning and promoting from within. It is from this lineage that the likes of Dalglish, Thompson and Souness all grew.
When Evans resigned as Liverpool manager in 1998, the Boot Room dynasty was broken: a run stretching for nearly 40 years, yielding 29 major trophies - including seven league titles and four European Cups.
The influence of the Boot Room and the culture it built remains at Liverpool to this day, even if the room itself does not.
Klopp understands the Liverpool way as much as any of his recent predecessors, and his trusted group of coaches form their own discussions, shaping the future of a European giant - just in a much nicer room.