Liverpool F.C.: The annual meeting of 1971

July 23, 1971
Bill Shankly turns diplomat
Outspoken Liverpool manager Bill Shankly last night turned diplomat to stop a rift among the club shareholders developing into a full scale row at the annual meeting.

“When I came here 11 years ago there was apprehension in the club,” he told about 90 shareholders.

“I felt that all the apprehension and the long knives had now been withdrawn. That’s why I’m upset about the events here tonight.

“I felt there was mutual admiration between you and the directors. If we here join our thought to be pro-Liverpool anti-nobody we will go from strength to strength.”

Shankly’s Wilsonian style peace-making speech followed a controversy over the election of a new director.

The vacancy occurred only hours before the meeting when a retiring director, Alderman Arthur Collins, resigned because of ill health.

There were five nominations for the board – Mr. Solly Isenwater, chairman of Liverpool Shareholder Association; Mr. Billy Liddell, a former Liverpool playing star; Mr. Jack Cross, Mr. Terry Smith; and Mr. G.H. Roberts. All but Mr. Cross, who withdrew his nomination at last year’s meeting, stood down last night.

Liverpool chairman, Mr. Eric Roberts, proposed that two retiring directors and Mr. Cross should be appointed en bloc.

‘No easy task’
But, following legal advice from the club’s solicitor who was present, the vote was split with, first the two retiring directors, Mr. Eric Sawyer and Mr. John Smith being re-appointed.

Then shareholders complained that the votes to fill the vacancy should include the four men who had withdrawn their nominations.

Others wanted a show of hands, not taking into account shareholdings, to decide.

But Mr. Roberts exercised his right as chairman to insist on a poll vote – based on shareholdings.

It was during the polling that Mr. Shankly made his peace-making speech, quipping at the end: “It’s no easy task being a director, especially if I’m the manager.”

Eventually Mr. Cross, a 58-years-old director of a Liverpool wholesale fruit merchants and importers was elected by 6,261 votes to 1,200, with 16 spoiled papers.

(Source: Liverpool Echo: July 24, 1971; via © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

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