reprinted by kind permission of Warrington Wolves Rugby Football Club
Bill Shankland was probably the greatest all rounder that ever played for this club.
Shankland was born in Sydney in 1907. He boxed and swam for Australia, was good on the track, a fine cricketer and an outstanding rugby union fly half! He switched rugby codes and toured with the 1929 Kangaroos.
His signing, in July 1931, was a major coup, and 2,000 eager spectators were there to greet him when he arrived at Bank Quay station. Standing 5ft 10in and weighing in at 12st 8lbs, this side-stepping centre with a prodigious kicking game didn't disappoint. He scored a try on his debut in a 16-6 home win over St.Helens Recs., on 29 August 1931, and became the club's leading try scorer that season with 23.
Promoted to captain the following season, he led his men to a Lancashire Cup success over rivals St.Helens, but unfortunately lost in a thrilling Wembley Challenge Cup Final to Huddersfield. He was to suffer further heartbreaks on showpiece occasions with defeat in the Championship Final of 1935 and 1937, as well as the Challenge Cup Final of 1936. Shankland did, however, collect a second Lancashire Cup medal with an 8-4 win over Barrow in October 1937, before his final game for the primrose and blue was a 4-8 defeat to neighbours Widnes, on 15 April 1938.
In England he had taken up professional golf at Haydock Park and excelled in this field also, coming in the top three at the British Open three times. He led the past players out at the centenary game against Huddersfield on the 6th September 1998 aged 91, but tragedy struck the following day when he slipped on the stairs at the hotel he was staying, banged his head and never recovered consciousness. Bill Shankland made 231 appearances for Warrington, scoring 74 tries and kicking 70 goals for a total of 362 points.