~=~f.d=-,ro::"~POP Boundary space nearby for facilities and parking; a well capitalised site; and an ailing club. So ran the ad in the mind of Ken Bates, cruising round. the north of England in his maroon Silver Cloud in the summer of 1965. Ten years up from London, with a construction company and global interests in investment and property development, he wanted to chance his arm at football. He liked the game and needed another Everest to climb. He saw Burnley, Stockport and Oldham answering his requirements. A cloven butcher and Vic Bernard had taken two of the places; what about the ' Latics?
men. tal drup. Oldham Athletic had creditors and shareholders snapping at the window; no money from the supporters; a secretary, named Buckley, shortly to go to prison for fiddling players' expenses (he had also turned down Malcolm Allison as manager for £30 a week); and the police threatening to close the ground for safety reasons. It was an Accrington replay, with United, City, Leeds and Burnley blackening the horizon. TIle board was delighted. There were no moguls among them, and noone who could raise desperate capital. In the autumn of '65 Bates bought 19,500 shares and sank £85,000 of loan stock into the club. Frank Large, Ian Towers, Dennis Stevens and Bloor were signed 'before they could find out I was a millionaire'. He wrote a five year master plan: it was accepted unanimously (had they seen one before?). In January Jimmy Mcilro
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came for a five year contract at £4,000 a year. Bates liked his reputation in the area and in Ireland (e.g. Allan Hunter, Ronnie Blair), and his handling of youngsters. Tho old bicycle and wooden bench that had passed for physiotherapy gave way to a lavish medical room; board room, dressing rooms and social facilities too were re-done. The Boundary Bulletin flooded the town. The club stayed up: up to 5th place by the next December. The team boasted David Best and George Kinnell: Knighton, Hunter and Blair for a halfback line: Large, Towers and white hope Bill Johnson from Glenavon on the right wing. They sniffed promotion. Bates called for backing from the board, but they were too poor or unadventurous. The chance was gone. The next season the players slipped: Johnson had a tragic injury at Middlesborough: there was no confidence in Mcilroy. Bates began to reCQUphis misfortune. Best., Kinnell and Knishton
sahons and quite a bitOflhe stiff' when he joined. But he was loyal to Mcilroy: and he kept the board when he could have gone for richer men (he was respectful of local interests, real or imagined?). He started to pull out. 81 acres of Great Budworth, Cheshire, was swapped for a villa in Tortola (the island next to Anegada). And he sold his 10 shilling shares in the club for 6d each to an associate. In August '68 McIlroy resigned: 'All I can say is that it has been an experience. I have nothing else to say.' Bates followed him in September: 'I feel it impossible to run the club as cltairman while living out in the Caribbean'. Harry Massey, a local builder, returned to power. Jack Rowley came back also, to the ~nager's seat. Together they toolcOldham to Division Four. Bates maintains it was Anegada that forced him to move. I would have carried on, he argues: you need patience, as I always said. He left the club with permanent improvements and himself about £25,000 poorer. He was unlucky or foolish in his choice of manager and the caution of his board. For, fifteen months after, the recipe worked. John Jowe, a textile man from Bury, bought his shares: sacked Rowley and the directors that appointed him: and plucked Oldham from the bottom of Division Four to the Second last year (with five of Bates' team). But he probably didn't mind. On Christmas Eve 1970 the Virgin Islands offered £4.8 million for the Anegada Develol?ment Corporation.
John Willie Lees On Anegada, meanwhile, in the British Virgin Islands he landed a plum. A 199 year lease on four-fifths of the island-as big as Manhattan and 170 inhabitants-with tax exemptions on profits, income, capitaJ and death duties. The price? A £1 million in development. And there were no exchange controls on an Wand in the sterling area but with dollars as currency. The Anegada Development Corporation was born. Back out of the sun, the marriage turned sour. His worst mistake, he declared in December '67, was 'not throwing out all the voluntary or,ani-