Wilson told Frank McKenna a story about the establishment of the ‘McEnroe Group’, a Manchester-based pressure group of creative types and business leaders who said that the public sector’s plans to regenerate their city after the IRA bomb in 1994 ‘cannot be serious’.
Crucially Manchester’s public sector, Howard Bernstein et al, listened to the motley crew, and so started a public-private sector partnership that has led the city’s renaissance and resulted in the fantastic place that we see today. This was the tale that acted as the catalyst for McKenna’s Downtown Liverpool in Business. If the private sector could make such an impact and have such a positive relationship with the council in Manchester, then why not in Liverpool too? Tony was one of Frank’s dearest friends, and spoke at the very first Downtown forum, ’24 Hour Party City’ hosted at The Racquet club in April 2004.
The event, which also had Cream boss James Barton on the bill, was a packed out affair, and confirmed to McKenna that his idea had a half decent chance of success. Sadly, Mr Manchester, the founder of the iconic Hacienda nightclub, owner of independent record label Factory, and all round top bloke, passed away in 2007. If he was still around today, not only would the Northwest be a more lively, crazy and creative place to be, but there is no doubt that Anthony H would be an integral part of the Downtown Manchester team alongside Michael Taylor. Tony Wilson introduced Michael Taylor to Frank McKenna in 2002 and his influence on the organisation was, and continues to be, huge.