18 December 2007

Johnnie "Toby" Mercer

Name: John Thompson Mercer
Born: 1877, Belfast
Died: January 1957
Position: Inside/Outside-Right

Representative Honours: Ireland: 12 Full Caps / 1 Goal (1898-1905); Irish League: 6 Caps (1898-1903).
Club Honours: (with Distillery) Irish League Champion 1898/99, 1902/03; Irish Cup Winner 1902/03; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1896/97, 1902/03; (with Linfield) Irish League Champion 1901/02; Irish Cup Winner 1901/02; City Cup Winner 1900/01, 1901/02.

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
Other
Belview
-
-
-
-
-
-
Ligoniel
-
-
-
-
-
-
81st North Lancashire Regiment
-
-
-
-
-
8th Belfast Boys' Brigade
-
-
-
-
-
Linfield Swifts
-
-
-
-
-
-
Preston North End
96/97
-
Trial
0/ 0
-
-
Distillery
96/97-98/99
c/s-1896
-
-
-
-
Brighton United
99/00
May-1899
-
-
(Southern League)
Leicester Fosse
99/00
Feb-1900
-
9/ 1
-
-
Linfield
00/01-01/02
c/s-1900
-
-
-
-
Distillery
02/03
c/s-1902
-
*118/41
-
-
Derby County
03/04-04/05
Oct-1903
-
26/ 1
6/0
-
TOTALS
-
£-
153/43
6/0
-

Biography:
As a teenager Toby Mercer played football for a number of teams, including Linfield Swifts, before signing with Distillery. He made his Whites debut on 10 October 1896 and was a regular at outside-left for the following three seasons. A regular goalscorer, he finished his first campaign with a Co. Antrim Shield winner’s medal, having scored in the 3-1 Final win over Linfield at Solitude.

Mercer played every match of the 1897/98 season which, although a disappointing one for Distillery, was a personal triumph as he gained international and inter-League honours in the opening months of 1898. From then on he was a regular choice for both Ireland and the Irish League well into the following decade. With Ireland he was part of a side which emerged from regular hammerings to share the 1903 Home Nations Championship title for the first time. Even with the Irish League he managed a commendable two wins, both against the Scottish League, from six appearances.

On the domestic front, 1898/99 proved a huge turnaround in the fortunes of Distillery, with Mercer surpassing even his prior achievements. He hit fifteen goals to finish as the Whites’ topscorer and claimed an Irish League title winner’s medal with Linfield defeated 2-0 in a deciding test match, the wing partnership of Mercer and ex-Blue John Peden causing the opposition defence endless trouble. At the season’s end he earned a move to England with Brighton United of the Southern League and the following February he moved into the Football League with Leicester Fosse.

By the beginning of the 1900/01 season Mercer was back in Belfast and playing for Linfield. He continued his remarkable trophy winning ways with the Blues, with four trophies in two seasons. They turned round a disastrous 1900/01 season in which, despite claiming the City Cup, they finished second bottom of the Irish League, to claim the ‘01/02 title from Glentoran by a three point margin. Even more impressive was their Irish Cup win, with Mercer scoring twice in a 5-1 defeat of Distillery in the Final. Also, just for good measure, the City Cup was retained by a point from Belfast Celtic and Glentoran.

Mercer returned to Grosvenor Park and Distillery in 1902 for what would be another vintage season. The title was clinched with a 5-1 win over Ulster, Mercer scoring a fine goal despite the blizzard conditions. That success was followed by the Irish Cup, with the Final played in Dublin for the first time Bohemians were seen off by three goals to nil. The season, and indeed Mercer’s Distillery career, was rounded off nicely with a 4-1 Co. Antrim Shield Final replay win over Linfield.

Early in 1903/04 Mercer was back across the Irish Sea to sign for English giants Derby County. At the time his registration was still held by Leicester, thus Derby had to negotiate with two clubs and his debut was delayed by a number of weeks. In the decade that preceded his Mercer’s arrival at the Baseball Ground, the Rams had finished Football League runners-up once, reached three FA Cup Finals and another three semi-finals, but had yet to claim one of the big trophies. It was hoped that the Mercer could team up with the legendary Steve Bloomer on the right-hand side of Derby’s attack to end the trophy search. It was not to be, with Derby floundering at the semi-final stage at the hands of Bolton in the Cup and never looking like mounting a challenge for the League title.

Thereafter, Mercer’s career was plagued by injuries, and he returned to Belfast after just two appearances in the 1904/05 season. He was to become a respected businessman, a founding member and secretary of Belfast United, a director at Glentoran for twenty years, chairman of Distillery for six years and chairman of the Irish League from 1941-42.

Ireland Cap Details:

18-02-1898 Wales... A W 1- 0 BC
05-03-1898 England. H L 2- 3 BC 1 Goal
26-03-1898 Scotland H L 0- 3 BC
18-02-1899 England. A L 2-13 BC
22-02-1902 Wales... A W 3- 0 BC
22-03-1902 England. H L 0- 1 BC 

09-08-1902 Scotland H L 0- 3 FR
21-03-1903 Scotland A W 2- 0 BC
28-03-1903 Wales... H W 2- 0 BC
12-03-1904 England. H L 1- 3 BC
21-03-1904 Wales... A W 1- 0 BC
18-03-1905 Scotland A L 0- 4 BC


Summary: 12/1. Won 5, Drew 0, Lost 7.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jonny

Was ready an interestng article on Johnnie from the 1916 ISN, stating that he was the secretary of Belfast United and that he was instrumental in forming the New Club.

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