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Football is Life- Joe Mercer Remembered

“Football is a great game. It is all about goals, goalmouth incidents and end-to-end attacking football.

There is nothing wrong with the game; plenty wrong with managers, players, directors, legislators and the media. Football has been very kind to me and I really mustn’t complain so I can leave you with this thought – The object of playing any game is for enjoyment.If you have enjoyed it and done your best you have won no matter what the result!”

Above is a quote from the City legend that was Mr Joe Mercer OBE from the early 1980’s.

I wonder what the ex City boss would think of the current crop of City players and the way the game has gone since he left us on the 9th August 1990, aged 76. How would he, for example, have handled the Tevez incident in Munich.

I would hazzard a guess that Mr Tevez would have been left to find his own way home that night.

Forty years ago on this day, Joe Mercer stepped down as City Manageras Malcolm Allison was given the responsibility of first team affairs and Mercer was promoted ‘upstairs’ as General Manager.

It wasn’t what Joe wanted and it really didn’t suit City either and so Joe moved on to Coventry City and stayed there, eventually becoming a director, until 1981. Joe did manage the England National team for seven games in 1974, losing only the one game before being replaced by Don Revie.

However he will be most remembered for his time at City and in his six years there he would win everything going and be regarded by most, if not all City fans as the best Manager we ever had.

Hired in 1965 Mercer got City promotion back to the top flight in his first season, losing only five times in the League and getting to round six of the FA Cup to boot, taking Everton to a third replay before losing 2-0. 

In his second full season back in the top flight Joe led Manchester City to their first League Championship in post war history. Showing his no nonsense approach to controversy, shortly before Uniteds last game (holders of the cup at the time) the trophy went missing from their boardroom.

One official told the media he hadn’t seen it all day and the other said it was collected earlier. Finally one admitted they had locked it in their vault, even then they were scared of City taking the limelight!  Joe told journalists he would be happy to walk all the way from Newcastle to collect it if he had to.

City beat Newcastle and Joe didn’t have to walk back to get the trophy.  

In 1969 Mercer added the FA Cup to the cabinet as a lone Neil Young strike proved the difference in a very tight game against a plucky Leicester side. Twelve months later he had added a League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup trophy to the cabinet both by a 2-1 scoreline.

Doyle and Pardoe double sealed the League Cup before Young and Lee scored in Vienna to secure the double.

Eighteen short months later and Joe was stepping down as Manager and although City would go on to win another League Cup five years later it would bring to an end the short but very trophy laiden flirtation between Mercer and City’s most successful period in history. 

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