Soccer Magazine

Matchdays with Mercer

By Stuartnoel @theballisround

Can you imagine a player today travelling to the ground on the bus on a match day, walking down the road with fans, happy to chat about having the “best job in the world”. The thought of that happening today is about as possible as Sepp Blatter admitting, well, anything. The last person in football who admitted using public transport to get to a game was laughed out of town as crazy. Whilst Christian Gross may have thought the way to warm to the Spurs fans and media was to produce his travel card at the press conference announcing his arrival back in 1997, most saw that the guy really didn’t get English football.

Matchdays with Mercer
But back in the Seventies it was common practice not only for players, but also for managers to use public transport, or even their own bike to get to home games. One man who believed it was humbling to travel in such a way was Joe Mercer.  Whilst manager of Manchester City in 1971 Joe gave an interview to Football World magazine explaining his match day routine.

“Home game Saturdays mean I can sleep in late, with the wife bringing me a cup of tea around 9.30am before I get up and have breakfast. Like my players I can eat what I want when we have a home game so I usually have a large English. Then if it is nice I will do some work in the garden. As I only live two miles from Maine Road I can hop outside at lunchtime and catch the bus if I do not feel like driving.

Lunch around midday is pure habit. Professional footballers everywhere are eating steak, fish or eggs on toast. There isn’t a vegetable to be seen and liquid isn’t encouraged. If they are travelling away then the coach will stop for the meal before resuming its journey with the smokers in the team banished to the back seat”

Football clubs today with their food nutritionists, dieticians and performance coaches would suffer cardiac arrest and the thought of players eating such things pre-match.  But interestingly enough clubs didn’t have squads anywhere near the size of the ones today.

Mercer didn’t believe in pre-match team talks so when the players were changed he left the match instructions to his assistant Malcolm Allison whilst he  went and took his place in the Directors Box for the game. Even the pre-match warm up was a five minute kick about, almost a three-and-in for those who were interested.  Alcohol in the form of a hip flask was often passed around the changing room to “take the edge off the nerves”, normally administered by the physio who was was normally “qualified” by being a former player, and owning his own sponge.

When the match started Mercer sat in a world of his own, blocking out the noise of the clubs.  He had no way to communicate down to the bench apart from sending a note down via one of the members of staff. He did not take any notes, preferring to memorise his half time team talk.

Matchdays with Mercer
At full time he would be in the dressing room, giving a few words of encouragement or reprimand whilst players sipped tea or lemonade before he went back into the Directors Lounge for cigars with the club owner.  His work for the day was done. No requirements to go to a press conference, talk to the media or pose with sponsors.  About an hour after the game he would make his way out of the ground, signing a few autographs for the young boys playing football in the car park before he would meet his wife.  If it had been a good day then it would be Steak for dinner in a restaurant in town; a defeat and it would be fish and chips in front of the TV at home.

How times have changed.  What would Joe make of football today, with nutritionally balanced energy bars, two way radios with headsets and press conferences with 100 journalists from around the world. Oh, and chips with curry sauce at the Chippy.

To talk about this and any other random football subject, head on over to our forum.

Matchdays with Mercer

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Next Manager Betting – England

    Next Manager Betting England

    Football Tips A largely uninspiring win against Malta in Gareth Southgate's first game in charge, may not have won many fans over, but the interim manager... Read more

    By  Sporrtsman
  • Back Leicester to Finish in the Bottom Half

    Back Leicester Finish Bottom Half

    Football Tips Sunday's home defeat to West Bromwich Albion saw the Foxes slip to their first home defeat in 21 league matches at the King Power... Read more

    By  Sporrtsman
  • Tony Romo’s Future

    Tony Romo’s Future

    Ever since Tony Romo got injured in the Preseason, it has been rumored many times that he will play again this year, he is sidelined for the year and he will no... Read more

    By  Bearbottomproductions
  • Barcelona v Manchester City – Betting Preview

    Barcelona Manchester City Betting Preview

    European Football Pep Guardiola returns to the Nou Camp as Manchester City take on Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Champions League Bettin... Read more

    By  Sporrtsman
  • Costa Dorada Holiday 'Hop

    Costa Dorada Holiday 'Hop

    My first ever holiday on foreign shores was back in what I refer to as “my previous life”. I travelled all the way to Salou on the Costa Dorada in a “luxury”... Read more

    By  Smidrophenia
  • Are Pineapples A Dirty Little Secret?

    Pineapples Dirty Little Secret?

    A few days ago I posted a picture of this really cool pineapple lamp on Instagram: Isn’t it totally adorbs? Looks great in my little corner. Read more

    By  Midlifemargaritas
  • 5 Interior Trends You Can Easily Add to Your Home

    Interior Trends Easily Your Home

    With a new year, new interior design trends emerge. Keeping on trend with interiors can be hard with seasons and styles ever-changing. From kitchen cabinets to... Read more

    By  Gfl