Avonbridge, Stirlingshire born centre half Bob Mercer was known as the “Mastermind of Modern Football”, and was a stalwart for Heart of Midlothian between 1909 and 1921. He initially played for junior clubs Gala Hailes Villa and Selkirk in 1907, transferring to Scottish League club Leith Athletic in 1907, where he scored once in 18 matches during their 1907-08 campaign. He was signed by Heart of Midlothian from Leith in June 1909, making Hearts debut against Raith Rovers in August the same year, soon becoming a Hearts stalwart at “pivot”. He won two Scotland international caps, playing against Wales in March 1912 and against Ireland in March 1913. He also represented The Scottish League five times across the same two years, scoring in a 4-1 victory over The Football League at Hampden Park in March 1913.
When the First World War broke out, Mercer served in the British Army as a gunner in The Royal Garrison Artillery, but he wasn’t the same player after the War due to injuries suffered from gas inhalation, and despite being advised to retire he joined Dunfermline Athletic in 1921 after 24 goals in 256 Jambos appearances, scoring 6 goals in 70 appearances for The Pars through to the end of 1922. Ultimately he was a belated victim of a German gas attack from which he did not fully recover, dying from the effects when he collapsed and died on the pitch while playing in a friendly at Selkirk in April 1926, aged just 36 years old.
NB this image was published in 1917 when Mercer was On His Majesty’s Service.