June 13, 1917
Liverpool F.C. met last night, and, in spite of some wasted moments, consequent upon foolish statements, the meeting was healthy and interesting, and in many ways its pointers to the future were worth special mention. Mr. John McKenna, always “Mr. Straight-from-the shoulder,” took exception to those unhappy words “dole” and “juggle.” The dictionary says: – The man who juggles is one “who makes sport by tricks of extraordinary dexterity.”
Well, Mr. McKenna has made much sport, and has shown extraordinary dexterity in dealing with the financial business of the League – as witness his recent delving into the club’s figures. He doesn’t like pooling – unless standing charges are pooled, how can there be any pooling, asks Mr. McKenna – and doesn’t like the term “dole,” preferring that it should be known that clubs “came to the financial assistance of the poor clubs.”
Well, Mr. McKenna, have it as you may, but the dictionary says a dole is an act of dealing or distributing; and of a surety you, sir, have been standing by the weaker clubs, and have as a consequence been distributing sums of money that were heartily welcomed.
The directors were thanked and snubbed in turn, the players were “voted,” and the turbulent-looking dividend topic was eventually withdrawn by Mr. Hayes, who was the mouth-piece of others, and recognised the position of affairs so soon as Mr. William Robert Williams, chairman of the Finance Committee, had made a very sound speech – the speech of the night, in fact. Mr. Williams got the bed-rock when he pointed out that the club’s standing charges were £2,000 a year, so that if there were no football next year the profits of the most recent season would be swallowed up immediately.
The absence of a dividend was hitting the directors, as well as shareholders who had “put there little all” into the club. But they must, said Mr. Williams, realise that their liabilities had been reduced from £11,816 to £9,500, and that though they had £2,450 in the bank they had a big income tax yet to pay. The directors had taken a strong and sensible view when the had deemed it unwise to declare a dividend. The future was very awkward, and they must conserve their resources.
It came as a big surprise to the meeting that Mr. McKenna had been suggesting retiring from the club after his twenty-five years’ experience. Last night registered the tenth time he had been before the shareholders for re-election. Fortunately the censor prevailed, and prevented Mr. McKenna resigning. The League chairman, referring to football of the future, said they wanted to carry on the game, whatever its nature. Until the clubs met in July nothing could be determined, but he felt that the game must go on.
The players at home and abroad, he added, ave done their duty nobly and earned our gratitude for playing earnestly and loyally without payment. Great difficulties were ahead, and the position of the directors in the future would be a very difficult one. The time had passed when big sums of money could bu players. He was rather glad, for it would make them strive to “grow their own players.”
Mr. Walter Henry Cartwright and his colleagues, who made weekly collections for footballs for Tommies, was thanked for his earnest work, and South Liverpool were also “named” for their assistance with promising players.
The chairman, Mr. J. Asbury (looking much better than for some time past), told the meeting that the number of soldiers admitted free was 25,874, and in addition 13,654 wounded soldiers had been admitted.
Altogether it was a prolonged meeting, but it had its bons mots, and there were many hearty laughs. The future is our all, and at the moment many think the game is in trouble. But I can see a lining to the clouds. After all, we must ever keep to our forefront the fat that we simply want a game. As Mr. McKenna said, “Whatever the nature of the game, let us carry on.” We have the King’s sanction, too. What more would you, Mr. Pessimist?
(Liverpool Echo: June 14, 1917)