How Bill Shankly intimidated Liverpool opposition with This Is Anfield sign

One piece of Anfield’s folklore sits proudly above the tunnel reading the words ‘This Is Anfield’, and it is thanks in part to Bill Shankly.

Liverpool’s famous sign, which has had three physical iterations, has been part of the Anfield furniture since its installation in 1972.

There are varying accounts, though, about how it came to hang above the players’ entrance to the pitch.

John Keith has been working as a sports journalist and covering Liverpool for 60 years. After checking his story with Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan, he gave his recollections.

“At that time, the teams came out together. They didn’t come out single [file], they came out side by side, ” Keith said.

“There is a story which is uncorroborated, but I think it’s true, that as they were going out for one match, one of the opposition players said, ‘It’s only Anfield’ and all this stuff about it.

“One of the players heard it and this got back to Bill. So Bill says, ‘Right, we’ll have a new sign saying This Is Anfield so that it spooks them’.”

Another tale of how the plaque came to be involves inspiration from an unlikely source and a vital change to the sign’s wording.

Ex-Anfield tour guide Danny Dwyer said: “It was actually recommended to him by a groundsman.

“The groundsman then went to our then-secretary Peter Robinson and said, ‘listen, let’s put a sign up in the players’ tunnel’.

“And then Shankly approved it, but the original sign which was recommended said, ‘Welcome to Anfield’.

“Bill said, ‘No. We’re not having that, you’re not here to have a good time, you’re not here to have a nice day, let’s have This Is Anfield’.”

The truth probably likes somewhere between the two. The groundsman could have provided the inspiration but Shankly was known to be looking at ways of intimidating the opposition.

Keith added that around the same time, the manager made sure the Liverpool away dressing room wasn’t sound-proofed.

He explained: “The Liverpool dressing room was sound-proofed so they weren’t affected by the crowd noise, but the visitors’ dressing room wasn’t.

“Shanks wanted them to hear the build-up, the crowd noises, so that it was all part of the pre-match little idiosyncrasies Bill thought would affect the opposition team.

Bill Shankly, 1972, changing room, Liverpool

“And, of course, when you look at results, he wasn’t wrong on that either.”

Who knows the true long-term impact of Shankly’s masterstroke to use ‘This Is Anfield’ instead of ‘welcome’?

We do know, though, that this website wouldn’t have its name!