June 10, 1907
Liverpool Club’s annual meeting
There was but little of that enthusiasm in evidence at the Liverpool F.C.’s «annual» at Carlton Hall on Monday evening which was associated with the corresponding gathering a year ago. For one thing the Anfield club had little or nothing to enthuse over. There was no League Cup, and no Dewar Charity Shield – nothing save the almost threadbare honour of winning the local cup-tie with or over Everton.
Still, there was a fair attendance of shareholders. There might have been more but as the Liverpool chairman in opening the meeting rightly said, the somewhat spare attendance might not inaccurately be taken as a compliment to the directors. It was when affairs were being mismanaged in a club – or any other concern for that matter – that the shareholders were inclined to make invasions, as it were, and ask “nasty” questions.
Councillor Edwin Berry, in moving the adoption of the balance sheet – already published in the “F.F.” – put the situation of the club and the necessary explanations in a very lucid and concise manner before the meeting. Not a single penny had been unnecessarily spent by the directors, who were naturally anxious that the club would forge ahead and free itself of all encumbrances.
This, their 14th annual meeting, was really the second annual gathering since the club’s reconstruction on a more popular basis. The past year had been an arduous and trying time for the directors, but he thought the meeting would be satisfied with what had been accomplished. A year ago they contemplated their great scheme of alterations at Anfield, necessitating the erection of new stands, and practically reconstructing the ground. This had meant hard work and an anxious time to get things at all fit by the 1st September.
Last year also they had to arrange for the purchase of the land. The negotiations were successfully carried through with the result that today they were the owners of the Liverpool Football Ground. It had been impossible to pay the whole amount required out of the profits, but after considerable negotiations they had been able to borrow £10,000 at 4½ per cent. from the Liver Friendly Society. This, said Mr. Berry, must be looked upon as an excellent bargain, seeing that repayment was extended over a period of 20 years. The remaining balance of £3,400 necessary to purchase the ground had been paid out of the profits of the club, and through arrangements with the bank.
With regard to the performances of the Liverpool teams in 1906-7, he would not say much, but he considered they might congratulate themselves upon the work of the Reserve team in running such a close race in the Lancashire Combination, and especially was praise due to Mr. John Fare for his devotion to their Reserve eleven.
The senior team had been disappointing, particularly during the last month; and despite their big batch of injured players, they ought to have done better.
Regarding the ground, there was only one thing wanting to make it one of the best in England, and that was a new grand stand on the north side of the ground.
He and his directors had felt so strongly on that point they had that day entered into a financial arrangement which he hoped would result in the erection of such a stand, and this would undoubtedly have a great bearing on the club’s financial prospects.
Their receipts last year were £2,000 less than they were the previous season, and an analysis told them that this was through decreased stand receipts of £2,000, for the old enclosure had two grand stands instead of one as last year. The directorate had entered into a very satisfactory arrangement for a loan of £5,000 for the purposes of erecting a grand stand on the side now vacant, those who were lending the money being willing to take half the stand receipts in payment of loan and interest until the whole of the stand was paid for, the other half of the stand receipts to go into the receipts of the club.
Needless to add, the resolution that the balance-sheet be adopted was carried unanimously, whilst the declaration of a maximum dividend of 5 per cent. was agreed to.
The three retiring directors were returned unopposed, so that the Board is again constituted as last year: Councillor Edwin Berry, Messrs. John McKenna, John Asbury, jun., William Coward Briggs, John Fare, Arthur Parr, John James Ramsay, William Robert Williams and Albert Worgan.
The Secretary (Mr. Tom Watson) prefaced his list of “players signed on” with some retrospective remarks. No club – said he – had suffered so much as Liverpool from injuries to players during the past season. The mishap to Alf West in mid-September was a great loss. Then Maurice Parry was hurt in November, and their captain Alex Raisbeck, broke down just in the thick of the Cup-ties when his service were most required. His team seemed to lose heart so far as the League was concerned, in consequence of these dampers. Had Raisbeck been playing, his belief was that Liverpool would not have succumbed by the odd goal at Owlerton in the English Cup-tie to the ultimate winners.
It was frequently said of Liverpool that they were either at the top or the bottom of the League. He hoped they would soon get rid of the last-mentioned mark of notoriety.
Mr. Watson then proceeded to read the list men signed for next season, as published in last week’s “Football Field,” with the addition of Charlie Wilson, their old Reserve team back. Tom Rogers and Harry Wightman were described as promising backs by the Liverpool Secretary.
There were no new faces at half-back, and the forward additions were Allan Ramsay, an outside left from Oldham, although a Liverpool lad, born, like John Cox, within a stone’s throw of the Anfield ground. Harry Fitzpatrick was another local – a strong, sturdy player who had been in the Army, and last season was in Luton’s service. A great deal was expected from Charles Hewitt (Tottenham) and Sam Bowyer, an inside left from Earlestown.
Mr. Berry invited questions from the shareholders present, and these eventually came rolling in with the regularity and rapidity of runs from Tyldesley’s bat at Edgbaston.
One shareholder asked if the directors were not going to strengthen their back division. If they didn’t he feared they would be left in a hole. The reply to this was that the directors were fully alive to the situation, but with West fit and well again, and half-a-dozen others on the books, there was no need for alarm.
Another asked if the directors took the captain of the team into their confidence when selecting their elevens? Yes, they had occasionally done so, but looked upon this duty as their – the directors’ – prerogative; they must be allowed to judge what was best, and had even better opportunities than the captain of the team of studying the players’ abilities or their weak points, the captain having something else other than this to do in looking after his own duties during a match. The team v. Everton in the Cup semi-final at Aston 15 months ago, said Mr. Berry was practically the players’ own selection, and the result that day was the reverse of happy.
Then followed further queries: “Was it the intention of the club to cover Spion Kop?” It was certainly their wish to have it covered – if only with spectators! For the present heaven’s canopy must suffice, and the question of an “artificial roof” held in abeyance.
One querist asked if something might be done to take away the pronounced bevel bordering the playing portion, for this lynx-eyed shareholder had noticed the marked reticence of players to fetch the ball in a certain match when the snow lay thick – and banked – around. Answer: The bevel made increased accommodation possible, and assisted in giving better view of the game.
Query: “Could something be done to get players to study the offside rule?” This shareholder had noticed that the one-back game had disconcerted Arthur Goddard & Co., spite of the fact that it was supposed to be easier to beat one back than two. Mr. Berry admitted he was being served up with a fair batch of conundrums, but – perhaps his questioner in this instance would be good enough to take on the role of offside instructor to the Liverpool players, and make occasional calls at the club room for this specific purpose! (I would advise this prospective instructor to keep out of his “opponents’ half” of the field, though: there might be “free kicks” ad lib!)
One member asked if the directors didn’t think a sum of over £600 given on the balance-sheet as “outstanding debt” was not a rather heavy item for a ready-money concern like the Liverpool F.C.? This was explained as being chiefly due for transfer fees for two players, the fees having been paid over to the club since the balance-sheet was struck.
Then someone asked to have such transfer fees divulged but the meeting voted otherwise.
Why was the team sent away for special training, asked another man, thereby incurring needless expense for something that was a failure, as the men were better in familiar than in strange beds, and happier at home than in “foreign” parts in the cold winter season? Mr. Berry said in reply that last season Liverpool had only been sent away – to Southport – and that once sufficed. And thus was the ball kept merrily rolling until Captain Raisbeck and Referee Matt McQueen were seen coming into the room, whereupon the Chairman thought fit, I suppose, to signal “time.”
I must mention how sure I am that the club’s supporters will be delighted that the directors have decided to proceed immediately with the erection of the north-side grand stand. No club can have too much covered stand accommodation, and beyond all doubt it pays well in the end.
One shareholder on Monday suggested that he charge for the paddock in front be nine-pence instead of a shilling, and this suggestion will claim the directors’ consideration. Ere the meeting broke up a most enthusiastic vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Berry. In moving this, Alderman Simon Jude spoke of the fine work done by their Chairman on behalf of the club. In response Mr. Berry said it was purely a labour of love with him. What he wanted to see was the Liverpool F.C. with the finest team and the finest ground in the country.
I am sure Mr. Berry must have felt well repaid for his fine services upon witnessing the manner in which this vote of thanks was recorded.
(Source: Cricket and Football Field: June 15, 1907)
Liverpool F.C. chairman: Mr. Edwin Berry.