June 21, 1895
A special meeting of the shareholders of the Everton Football Club Company, Limited, was held in the Picton Hall last evening for the purpose of filling vacancies on the directorate caused by the resignation of Messrs. George Mahon (president), Coates, James Griffiths, Reid, and R. Wilson.
Mr. William Clayton occupied the chair, and was supported on the platform by Dr James Baxter, Messrs. Kelly, C.J. Leyland, and John Davies (members of the board), Mr. Cornett (Messrs. North, Kirk, and Cornett), and others.
At the commencement of the proceedings Mr. Coates, who occupied a seat in the body of the hall, where a large number of shareholders had assembled, proceeded to criticise the manner in which response had been given to the resignations of the directors who had severed their connection with the board.
The Chairman expressed his abhorrence of the treatment meted out to the five gentlemen in question, who had, he said, acted so well for the club in the past. (Applause.)
The communications were forwarded to them without his sanction by Mr. Richard Molyneux, who, as secretary of the club, they believed to be fully posted in the art of letter writing. He had presumed that the replies had been forwarded in a proper manner, and he could assure them, from the bottom of his heart, that he was sorry the gentlemen in question should have received such communications from the club. (Applause.)
What had been done could not be rectified, and the fault, if fault there were, lay with the secretary. (Applause.)
Mr. Mitchell proposed, amid applause and hooting, a vote of thanks to the retiring directors for their past services.
The Chairman ruled the motion out of order.
A shareholder asked why the resignations had not been accepted before a statement to that effect was made in the circular convening the meeting.
The Chairman said the resignation had been accepted at that time. As chairman of the directors he had spent a lot of time in endeavouring to get the five gentlemen to stand for re-election. He (the chairman) was their director, but not their servant. (Applause and hooting.)
In addition to rendering service to the club he had to consider his home, his business, and his health, and consequently he could not afford to attend the office every day to see what communications were issued. (Applause and hooting.)
Mr. Molyneux explained that he wrote out a copy of the letter to be forwarded to the resigning directors, and handed it to the office boy for transmission. Possibly it was more brief than it might have been, but it really contained what was decided upon at the directors’ meeting. (Applause.) But for a large amount of business in connection with the preparation of returns for the registrar of joint stock companies he should have forwarded the letters himself.
Mr. Coates asked that the minutes should be read in support of this statement.
The Chairman replied that the minute book was not there, and was proceeding to explain the reason of its absence when interrupted by hooting and groans.
The Secretary said the books of the company were not required at such a meeting as that. The resolution recorded on the minutes was to the effect “that the resignation of the fivegentlemen named be accepted.” (“Oh,” hooting, and applause.)
Mr Mahon said the statement that the letters were correctly representative of the resolution adopted was denied by the directors who passed the resolution. He had retired from a position which was exceedingly onerous and had interfered considerably with his business, private and social, and he considered it a positive disgrace that such a missive should have been sent to him. The communication was a most discourteous one. (Applause and hisses.)
Mr. Griffiths. “You (the chairman) have made a statement just now that you have been endeavouring to get the five directors to reconsider their decision and stand again as directors of the club. I want to give you the lie direct. (Applause.)
Another shareholder asked whether the club was to be dictated to by solicitors, schoolmasters and a clique? As he spoke one of those present passed him bearing a slender cane, caught and twisted it with energy born of excitement.
A disorderly scene was then witnessed for some minutes, and at length the chairman rose to speak. He said the scene which they had just witnessed was not worthy of the Everton Football Club, and not even fit for a bear-garden. The chairman was proceeding to state the case for the present directors, when Mr. Coates intervened.
In the course of a lengthy speech, he complained that at the last meeting certain directors had acted with a gentleman who made the occasion somewhat notorious, and that shareholders had been canvassed for the purpose of throwing out one of their most valuable colleagues. They had succeeded in rejecting Mr. Atkinson without a word of thanks or regret, and such lack of harmony existed that it was impossible for the retiring directors to continue on the board. They were not willing to spend the whole season in wrangling, and they felt it only consistent with their self-respect to resign. While acting on the board, by some way or other nearly the whole of their business became known to those who were conducting this agitation (“Shame”) and was a common subject of conversation in Tithebarn Street. No one knew better about it than their chairman that evening. (Hooting)
The information could only come from the secretary or the directors betraying their trust, and their minds were made up that it came from two gentlemen of the directorate. (“Names,” and interruption.) Accordingly, they felt it necessary for themselves or their colleagues to retire. “They must retire,” and hooting.)
The Chairman then claimed the attention of the shareholders. He asserted that many attended the meeting with preconceived ideas, and that unfounded statements had been published in the press. It was reasonable, he submitted, to think that having entered upon negotiations for the early purchase of the club ground, he should adopt the suicidal policy of alienating five of his colleagues. He regretted that Mr. Griffiths had not lived up to his reputation as a gentleman (applause and hooting) and had so far forgotten himself as to call a gentleman equal to himself in every particular a liar. (Applause.) He had written to Mr. Mahon urging him to stand for re-election, and had received from him, and from another retiring director on behalf of the other two resigning members of the board, a refusal to stand. There was no quarrel between himself and the retiring directors; the issue was a fictitious one.
Mr. Wilson had complained of the action of the shareholders, culminating in the dismissal of his old friend Mr. Atkinson, and the quarrel was thus proved to be one between the shareholders and the retiring members of the board. (Applause and groans.)
Mr. Wilson appeared to suggest that the retiring directors should be re-elected en bloc, seeming to forget that he himself replaced a former member of the board. There was no unanimous recommendation from the board that its members should be re-elected. (Interruption.) Having denied that any of the present members of the board had acted with a clique at the previous meeting, the chairman proceeded to refute the statement that any of their number had divulged particulars of the business transacted at their meetings, adding that two of the gentlemen who had tendered their resignations had apologised to a meeting of the directors for carrying private information to outside quarters.
Mr. Mahon. “I think the speech which the shareholders have just heard from you proves up to the hilt the utter harmony which has existed, and which exists at present, among the directorate.” (Laughter and hisses.)
Dr William Whitford said he had heard many things which he regretted, and believed that too much importance was being attached to very trivial matters. He proposed that the five retiring directors be re-elected upon the board. (Applause and hisses.)
The shareholders desired their directors to act not as children, but as a harmonious body, with a single eye to the welfare of the club. (Applause.)
The motion was seconded by Mr. Richardson.
Mr. Coates said that he was pretty sure that none of the retiring directors would allow themselves to be re-elected.
Nominations being invited by the chairman, the names of about a dozen gentlemen were brought before the meeting.
Dr Whitford pressed his motion, which was eventually carried by a considerable majority on a show of hands.
Dr Wright suggested that it was uncertain whether the gentlemen on the platform possessed the confidence of the meeting.
Mr. Mahon, who arose amid great cheering, said the construction he put upon the vote was that it was not a vote of confidence in the resigning directors so much as a resolution expressing lack of confidence in the present members of the board. (Loud applause and hooting.)
The Chairman said he and his colleagues refused to resign a position to which they had been appointed a fortnight ago; but after further discussion.
Mr. Kelly (amid cries of “Resign” and cheers) said he saw that the majority had no confidence in the present directorate, and should therefore resign.
A motion was then proposed by Dr Whitford that the meeting be adjourned for a week, and further discussion took place.
Mr. Cornett having given his opinion that an adjournment was quite in order, whether the present members of the board resigned or not.
The Chairman intimated that he and his four colleagues on the board would hand in their resignation, but would conduct the business of the club until their successors were appointed. Their resignation would be handed in at the next meeting. (Cheers and hooting.)
The meeting was then adjourned for a week.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: June 22, 1895)