LEGENDS Peter Reid and Mike Summerbee paid tribute to Joe Mercer as a plaque honouring the late Ellesmere Port footballing great was unveiled in his hometown.

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, was unveiled at the front of the town's Civic Hall this afternoon (Thursday, November 18).

Football writer Mark Metcalf, who organised the event, had worked in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association to honour Mercer.

He has been involved in a number of similar projects including a plaque being unveiled at Cambridge Road Primary School during the summer for another Ellesmere Port footballing legend, Stan Cullis.

Members of Mercer's family, including his granddaughter Susan Lea and her husband David, were in attendance and presented the Mayor of Ellesmere Port, Councillor Lisa Denson, with a silver tea set.

The Mercer family regifting the tea set.

The Mercer family regifting the tea set.

The tea set had been gifted to Mercer by the people of the town back in 1950 in recognition of him winning the FA Cup and the FWA Player of the Year award.

Everton legends Peter Reid and Graeme Sharp attended the unveiling, with the former saying: "He was an absolute gent. Joe Mercer - what a legend."

Former Manchester City star Mike Summerbee paid tribute to his former boss, describing him as "a very special man".

Mike Summerbee.

Mike Summerbee.

He said: "He gave me my opportunity at Man City. I didn't want to ever let him down.

"This day to me is very special. Thank you Joe for giving me my career."

Speaking at the unveiling, former PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told the large turnout in Civic Square: "You've every right to feel proud of Ellesmere Port and that is what these plaques are about."

Author Gary James, who wrote Football With A Smile – a biography of Joe Mercer, said: "Joe absolutely loved this town. He became an international footballer in this town.

Peter Reid.

Peter Reid.

"He was born on Queen Street and worked at the Shell refinery. He gave his mum his first wage packet.

"His dad died young and he became the bread winner. He knew what hardship was.

"He brought trophies he won back to the town to inspire the people."

Mark Brindle, representing Arsenal FC, said: "The great post-war era for Arsenal wouldn't have happened without him.

"He was so astute. You can make the argument he was one of those players who could play in any era.

"Thank you Joe Mercer from everyone at Arsenal."

Dozens of people turned out for the official unveiling of the blue plaque.

Dozens of people turned out for the official unveiling of the blue plaque.

The silver tea set regifted to the people of Ellesmere Port by the Mercer family was accepted by the mayor.

Cllr Denson said: "It's absolutely beautiful and will be treasured here in the civic building."

She added: "The plaque will inspire other generations in his memory. It's a reminder of his passion and commitment to the game."


Joe Mercer was born in Ellesmere Port on August 9, 1914.

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.

He won the league title as a player with Everton and twice with Arsenal, where he was also captain of the FA Cup winning team in 1950 – a season in which he was voted Player of the Season by the Football Writers’ Association.

Mercer, a half-back, made five full and 27 war-time/victory appearances for England and captained his country.

One of his international team mates was Stan Cullis.

Mercer, who during WWII was a physical training instructor, played his final league match at the age of 39 before becoming a manager at Sheffield United in 1955.

In 1960 he helped Aston Villa to return to Division One and in 1960-61 his side won the League Cup.

As manager of Manchester City, from 1965 to 1971, he enjoyed great success winning the Second and First Division titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup.

In June 1972, Mercer became general manager at Coventry City. In the summer of 1974, Mercer temporarily took charge of the England national team for six matches.

The Wing Half pub in Ellesmere Port, which is now closed down, was named in his honour.

Mercer died in Hoylake in 1990 on his 76th birthday.

The blue plaque honouring footballing great Joe Mercer at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall.

The blue plaque honouring footballing great Joe Mercer at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall.