THE granddaughter of legendary Ellesmere Port-born footballer Joe Mercer says she's "honoured" that a plaque celebrating her grandfather will be erected in the town centre later this year.

The blue plaque for the former England, Everton and Arsenal star, who enjoyed a trophy-laden playing career before managing Manchester City to both domestic and European success, will be unveiled at the front of the Civic Hall on November 18.

Last week (May 13), The Standard met with Mercer's granddaughter Susan Lea and her husband David at the Civic Way venue where they both spoke of their pride over his hometown's impending tribute.

Fittingly, the date of the meeting – set up by football writer Mark Metcalf who has worked in conjunction with the PFA on the project – was 82 years to the day that Mercer, along with another Ellesmere Port footballing great, Stan Cullis, both played for England in a 2-2 away draw with the then World Cup holders Italy.

After being shown where the PFA plaque for her grandfather will take pride of place at the front of the Civic Hall, a delighted Susan said: "I'm really honoured. I don't consider myself to be a spring chicken so the fact my grandad is still getting all this attention is just great.

"I worshipped him. To me, he was just my grandad. I'm still taken aback by just how popular he was."

She then recalls a story of how Mercer, a boyhood Evertonian, was mobbed by supporters outside Wembley when the Toffees faced Liverpool in an all-Merseyside FA Cup final back in 1986.

"People just came flooding over", Susan said. "I'll never forget that. There was just an influx of people. It was the case all the time – he loved it."

Chester and District Standard:

A pupil at the town's old John Street School, Mercer began his football journey as a youth player for Ellesmere Port Town before landing a dream move to Goodison Park.

Susan's husband David, a Liverpool fan, spent a lot of time with her dad – Mercer's son, also called David – who told him many stories over the years.

He shares one about how a young Mercer met the woman who would become his wife, Susan's grandmother Norah, because Everton were unhappy with the mode of transport he took to get to training.

"He used to get to training on the back of his mate's motorbike and Everton didn't like it", David explained.

"The only person he knew with a vehicle was Norah's dad who was a greengrocer and had a van.

"He used to get her dad to take him and that's how they met."

Mercer eventually went on to live in Hoylake, which became the family home, but he was always proud of his Ellesmere Port roots.

David recalls how happy he was about having a pub named in his honour.

"He liked The Wing Half – he was very proud of that!"

Mercer won a league title with Everton before the Second World War disrupted his career – although he did appear for Chester City during this time.

After a falling out with the then Toffees manager Theo Kelly during a period in which Mercer had to pay for his own surgery to rectify a severe cartilage injury, a post-war move to Arsenal followed.

David said Mercer used to train with Liverpool during the week before getting the train to London from Lime Street on matchdays.

He enjoyed huge success at Highbury, winning two league titles and an FA Cup, before eventually calling time on his playing career in 1954.

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Even during his playing days, Mercer worked in the family grocery business on the Wirral so he began to concentrate on that until a managerial opportunity came calling.

He took the reins at Aston Villa, where he won the Division Two title and a League Cup, and once tried to sign Sir Alex Ferguson for the Midlands giants during his playing days.

Susan, an avid Manchester City fan as a result of her grandfather managing the club during a hugely successful six-year period, remembers how the legendary Manchester United manager came looking for her and her grandmother during a football-related function they were attending.

"He wanted to come and find us because my grandad had tried to sign him when he was Aston Villa manager", she explained.

"I'm a huge Manchester City fan but I have to say he was very nice. I joked to David afterwards, why did he have to be so nice?!"

During his spell at Maine Road, Mercer won the Football League, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup.

Such was his impact on the blue half of Manchester, the likes of Tony Book and Mike Summerbee – who played under Mercer – always make a huge fuss of Susan and her family whenever their paths cross.

She and David both have "season tickets for life" and they, along with their three children, were invited to the launch of Joe's bar at the new ground.

"They've always looked after us superbly", said Susan. "It was the same with my grandmother before that. She continued going to the games and they always looked after her.

"She was an Evertonian but when they played City she always wanted it to be a draw!"

Mercer's next managerial move was to Coventry City in 1972 and it was during his time there that he also managed England on a caretaker basis following the resignation of 1966 World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey.

He sadly passed away in 1990 on his 76th birthday.

"My grandad didn't reflect on the past", said Susan. "He did that with the footballing world but he never really spoke about the past to us because he was always doing something.

"Even after he finished he would be off watching football at Tranmere Rovers or Chester City. He just loved football."