Liverpool F.C.: The annual meeting of 1912 (Liverpool Echo)


May 30, 1912
Contest for seat on board of directors.
Explanation re. players.
It has been generally understood that the pantomime season finished somewhere in front of the Grand National. But last night the Liverpool Football Club’s annual general meeting of shareholders provided a pantomime, and proved once more that the humorous spirit is not dead among mortals who follow football. The outset, I am tol, was marked by a pretty phrasing of Mr. John McKenna, who paid tribute to the real value of the Press. We don’t often hear this truth told aloud and therefore mine was the pain when I had the information second-hand through my late arrival at the Law Rooms.

The Liverpool meeting opened as though Law and Disorder Rooms would be the more appropriate title, for when a question was asked by a well-known shareholder another shareholder made a dastardly suggestion that No 1 speaker was not a shareholder, and, further, imputed dishonesty to the same gentleman. Recriminations fired across the room, and the man who was told to “wash his face” got all he deserved – save the wash.

It was a distinctly odorous commencement to the meeting, and Mr. McKenna, fortunately lapsed out of answering questions by asking questions, and proceeded finally to calm the turbulent spirits. And there were some shareholders present t inquire into the failures of the club.

Financially the club had done admirably, and 5 per cent. was carried, even though payment of it was deferred. In this connection Mr. William Robert Williams, whose finance talks are always calm and interesting made mention of Liverpool’s request to the F.A. A council meeting of the Football Association will be held at the offices of the association at Russell Square, London on June 3. With regard to dividends to be distributed to shareholders the Liverpool and Newcastle United clubs have proposed that regulation 1, as to the formation of companies, be amended to read as follows:

“A larger dividend shall not be declared than the maximum allowed from time to time by the Football Association, but such dividend may be a cumulative one, not exceeding the maximum allowable.”

So Liverpool’s “holders” decided that a slap of the hand was worth two in the eye, and rather than await the F.A. ruling they got on the right side of 5 per cent. for the present season. The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report and accounts, said that while they had not had the best season from a playing point of view, they must admit that the public of Liverpool and the surrounding district had supported them very well. In the name of the club he tendered thanks for that support, and he paid a warm tribute to the services of the Press.

The chairman proceeded to review the accounts in detail, pointing out that there was practically no difference from the previous year. Every economy had been exercised, but they had been forced to follow the example of other first-class clubs in the matter of benefits, and had paid £400 more than last year. Their revenue had proved a record one, and the directors trusted that the coming season might prove even better (hear, hear). Mr. William Coward Briggs seconded the resolution.

Mr. Simms endorsed the chairman’s remarks regarding the Press and its support, and then passed on to critice the finance of the season. He declared that in 1906 the club had a most successful season, yet their expenditure was less than in other years. He contended that the expenditure of that successful season was curtailed because the club had not got the money. They were feeling the pinch, but once the gates were large and finance good they didn’t practice keen economy. He was desirous that until their position in wealth was straightened the greatest concern should be given to economising. It was not necessary to spend huge sums to gain a good team.

Here the speaker might have quoted the need for playing the reserve men, as did a shareholder later in the evening, this latter gentleman being perfectly correct when he advocated this principle, and stated that “the directors didn’t know what horses they had got in their stable.”

A calmly serene man, who knew not, or would not realise that some of us had homes to go to, laboured on and on in droll manner, and his serene calmness of speech worried those who wanted the business of the evening attended to. This man desired that travelling expenses should be cut down, and he pointed out short journeys to Lancashire clubs, but forgot to mention the reserve team’s travels.

Mr. Williams pointed out that if comparison in travelling expenses were made, one must bear in mind that there were special additions this year compared with the year previous. For instance, they had journeyed to Fulham for the cup, whereas previously they had been at home. Then there were special training towards the end of the season when their position was so black, and the players needed something to brace them up for the big effort needed.

The resolution was unanimously adopted.

The retiring directors were Messrs. William Coward Briggs, John Keating and Albert Worgan, all of whom offered themselves for re-election. There were two other nominations Messrs. J. Bond and D. Simms. Prior to voting the Chairman explained that the directors were expected to make certain guarantees to the bank. He made that statement in order that those who were elected might appreciate their responsibilities. This led to a long and somewhat acrimonious discussion, but scrutineers were eventually appointed and the vote taken. It resulted as follows:
Briggs (5,358); Keating (4,524); Worgan (4,497); Simms (3,408) and Bond (2,361).

The first three named gentlemen were duly re-elected.

The chairman, in announcing the list of players for next season, made some explanatory observations. He said that Mr. Joe Dines, was an amateur from Ilford. The players signed on up to the present are:
Goalkeeper: Kenneth Campbell and Peter Malone.
Full backs: Robert Crawford, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Pursell, Sam Speakman and Walter Wadsworth.
Half-backs: Ralph Holden, Harry Lowe, Donald Mackinlay, Ernest Peake, Robert Robinson, James Scott, Joe Dines (Ilford) and Bob Ferguson (Third Lanark).
Forwards: John Bovill, Arthur Goddard, Sam Gilligan, Tom Gracie, Hugh Lester, William Lacey, Tom Miller, Jack Parkinson, James Speakman, Jimmy Stewart, Arthur Metcalf (Newcastle United) and Henry Welfare (local).

They were at present negotiating for the transfer of two other players, but as yet he was not in a position to divulge their names. The amateur Dines is one of the English team chosen to play at the Olympic games at Stockholm.

Mr. Frank Sugg asked if it were possible to give the reason for Sam Hardy, Jim Harrop and John Macdonald’s names being on the transfer list. With all respect to the chair I think the answer should have been, “Sorry, but it is in the best interest of every one that the matters should be kept private.” However, Mr. McKenna, in his wisdom and everyone knows how open, frank, and fair he is, decided to appease the public with the result that a somewhat dangerous precedent has been formed.

The story of Hardy’s refusal was given months ago in our columns an “Echo” exclusive, as was yesterday’s announcement of the transfer of John McConnell until such time as those who run did read. In effect, Hardy leaves because he refuses to live in Liverpool, and the club cannot take him unless he agrees to perform his training duties in Liverpool throughout the week. Hardy was accused of breaking discipline. Harrop whose five years’ service is not complete until next January would not sign unless he was guaranteed a benefit and John Macdonald, now with Newcastle, wanted the 10s per week extra upon the £4 weekly which the F.A. rule says “may” be given. Liverpool were not giving.

A number of shareholders criticised in stringent language the indifferent displays given by the team last season. One speaker suggested that less experiments should be made with veteran players, and that younger men should be tried.

The Chairman asked if they could point to another club in the league which had won as many honours as Liverpool had done in its short career (hear, hear).

A shareholder: Has any club had a more see-saw existence than what the Liverpool Club has had (laughter).

The shareholders declared that the names of the men signed could not possibly place them in a high position. Others complained that they ought to have election addresses from the men who were seeking a seat on the board; another said, “Let’s have a half yearly meeting, like other clubs we wot of, then perhaps we can improve matters,” a sensible statement that led to a satirical remark from a gentleman, who proposed that a “weekly meeting should be held and the team chosen by the shareholders!”

A quiet Scottie and a former director, Mr. Newman, made some wise statements, and one hopes that out of them will come heaps of blessing. Might not the proxy forms in future beat this footnote:
“All proxy forms must be handed to the auditors at least seventy two hours before the time of the meeting”? There is confusion on the point, and the alteration would make matters straight.

The meeting, which opened with hot fire between a shareholder and a man who withdrew, but must have known that his unfair sting must remain in a small degree closed with a hearty vote of thanks to the chairman. The following directors were present: Messrs. William Coward Briggs, John James Ramsay, William Robert Williams, John Asbury, John Keating, Albert Worgan, Richard Lawson Martindale Snr., and Thomas Crompton, and Mr. Tom Watson (secretary). Among the shareholders was friend Ned Doig.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: May 31, 1912)

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