Man who ran on the pitch to kiss Bill Shankly's shoes shares Jurgen Klopp message

Ernie Ashley with a picture taken of him running on to the pitch to meet Bill Shankly after the 1974 FA Cup Final
Ernie Ashley with a picture taken of him running on to the pitch to meet Bill Shankly after the 1974 FA Cup Final -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Ernie Ashley has witnessed everything there is to see as a Liverpool FC fan.

The 81-year-old fell in love with the Reds aged 6 when his dad took him to his first ever game at Anfield. One look at the L4 stadium's hallowed pitch started a 75-year love affair that has taken Ernie all over the world as he has been there to experience his side win every major trophy in the game.

Things were a lot different in his early days supporting the club as Ernie remembers when the team were languishing in the second division. However, the trajectory of the club changed in 1959 when Bill Shankly was appointed manager and transformed the team into one of the biggest forces in the sport.

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Ernie was 16 at the time Shankly joined and didn't know what to expect from the incoming boss. However, the supporter was one of millions who forged a special connection with the legendary Scot as Ernie's home in Woolton is still adorned with photographs and tributes to the man who became much more than a football manager.

He told the ECHO: "There are special people in your life that you look up to and you never forget. From an early age, he was like my second father. He transformed the club and loved the supporters. To experience it was something else."

Ernie crossed paths with his idol on a number of occasions as he followed the team home and away with his group of mates from Huyton during Shankly's 15 year managerial reign. He regales incredible stories from this time such as being thanked by the manager for being one of the volunteers who helped clear the snow and ice from the pitch at Anfield during the "Big Freeze" of 1962/63.

Another brilliant tale involved Shankly responding to Ernie's friend's invite to come to a birthday party in Huyton and allowing people to try on his white mac. However, the most memorable encounter came after Shankly's final game as manager in 1974 when the Reds defeated

Newcastle 3 - 0 to win the FA Cup


Ernie was in the crowd at Wembley and decided to commemorate the triumph by running onto the pitch to kneel before Shankly and kiss his shoes. The former Cunard worker said: "Something came over me. It was done by impulse. He spoke to me as a kid growing up and I just wanted to be part of his presence.

"I said to myself during the game 'what a performance this is'. I've got family in Australia and I knew they'd be watching.

"Millions of Liverpool supporters were happy all over the world and I just wanted to say on behalf of them, 'Thanks Bill for making us all happy.' I just paid homage to him and kissed them lovely black shoes."

Ernie laughed as he said: "I think Bill said 'make a good job of them shoes while you're down there'. Or he probably said to himself 'you again Ernie' because I ran behind him after the UEFA Cup final win against Borussia Mönchengladbach [the year before]."

Ernie Ashley running on to the pitch to meet Bill Shankly after the 1974 FA Cup Final
Ernie Ashley running on to the pitch to meet Bill Shankly after the 1974 FA Cup Final -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Ernie's passion for the Reds remains as strong as ever as he still continues to hold his season ticket in the Main Stand. Liverpool supporters are preparing for a similarly seismic moment to Shankly's exit this week as Jurgen Klopp's nine year spell at the club is set to come to an end.

Ernie drew comparisons between Shankly and Klopp as he said why the German's surprise announcement in January sparked a similar response to Shankly's departure 50 years ago. He added: "Both come from the same mould.

"They're both good socialists, caring and down to earth people. Certain names will live forever. Shankly will because he was a genuine man and Klopp will for the same reason."

However, Ernie laughs as he revealed he has no plans to recreate his famous Shankly photo with Klopp after the game against Wolves. He said: "I can't run now. I've got a gammy leg

"Them days are well over. I'll maybe shed a little tear that day like thousands of others will. We'll never see another manager like Klopp in this present era."

Ernie is excited for the next chapter of supporting Liverpool as he has already renewed his season ticket for next year and said Klopp's principles will continue to run through the club just like Shankly's did. Ernie is now in his 80s and credits his passion for football and listening to recordings of his hero as the key to his long life as he looks forward to what comes next.

He said: "I always go for walks and listen to Shanks' tapes. That's what my secret is."

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