The Roger Hunt and Bill Shankly showdown

Wednesday, March 5 – 1969
Roger Hunt and Bill Shankly face a showdown meeting today – at Hunt’s request. The “battering ram” of England’s World Cup side and Liverpool’s blaze of success is prepared to be transferred or even quit the game.
Only an amicable hatchet-burying session can now end the deep rift between Hunt and the club following the explosive events of the fifth-round FA Cup replay when Liverpool were shot out by Leicester City.
Hunt was called off the pitch and substituted by reserve Bobby Graham 17 minutes from the end. He stripped off his shirt and angrily threw it down before stalking up the players’ tunnel.
“It’s not being taken off that has deeply hurt Roger. It’s the humiliating way it was done,” a close friend of the family`s aid yesterday.
“He felt he had been made a public scapegoat for everything that was going wrong. It will be sorted out one way or the other tomorrow.
“If he is not happy with the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting he is prepared either to ask to be transferred or quit altogether.
“After almost 10 years in the side without ever being dropped Roger feels this could have been softened by a word of warning and more definite indications. He had no idea he was the player to be substituted.
Hunt himself, “too upset after a sleepless night,” took the day off on the Lancashire coat with his wife Pat. He maintained a firm “No comment.” Manager Shankly was not breaking the silence on the great Roger Hunt mystery either.
“I’ve noting to discuss about events or my players,” he said.
There was a heated inquest in the dressing room, I understand, after the 1-0 defeat that gave Leicester City their first away win of the season and saw Liverpool beaten in successive home games.
Harold Cartwright, the Liverpool chairman, said: “We have every confidence in whatever action our manager may take which he thinks is in the best interest of the team at any particular time.
“There is no controversy as far as we are concerned.”
Speculations on Merseyside had a field day. Resignations, signings, transfers, a split on the board. All the rumours had an airing.
Liverpool do retain an interest in Young England midfield player Brian O’Neill of Burnley. Previous overtures have been rebuffed and there are no indications of an immediate offer – but Liverpool will keep a constant watch.
** Hunt was only Shankly’s second tactical substitution since the new rule was introduced two and half seasons ago. (Daily Express, 05-03-1969)

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