Two Merseyside born Prescot Athletic team mates surnamed Mercer, Billy (a goalkeeper born 1892 in Prescot) and David (a winger born March 1893 in nearby St Helens) both joined Hull City in the year immediately before the outbreak of World War One, and yet they were unrelated. David Mercer had also played for Skelmersdale United in 1913, and made his Football League debut in April 1914 playing for Hull City at Fulham, Billy’s debut came in January 1915. Both would go on to lengthy playing careers, Billy winning 2 League Championship medals at Huddersfield Town under Herbert Chapman in the mid 1920’s, yet actually David could be considered the more outstanding footballer.
Having established himself in the Hull City team before World War One intervened, he played a wartime match against Sheffield United (c.1918), later abandoned due to bad light, in which he scored SIX times, which clearly impressed The Blades’ directors, who outlayed a British record £4,500 transfer fee for him in December 1920 after 26 goals in 97 League and Cup games for The Tigers and a further 48 goals in 144 wartime matches. Mercer’s form at Sheffield United was good enough for him to be awarded two England caps, making his debut in October 1922 in a Home Championship 2-0 victory over Ireland at The Hawthorns, and in March 1923 a 6-1 romp against Belgium at Highbury, in which he scored. He also made one appearance for The Football League when he played against The Scottish League in a 1-1 draw in Glasgow in March 1924.
He played a key part in United’s run to FA Cup glory in 1925, when they beat Cardiff City in the Final at Wembley. Mercer died in 1950 at the relatively young age of 57, shortly after the 25th anniversary of the victory, the first of the 1925 team to pass on. He scored 22 goals in 241 appearances for The Blades and in October 1926 Sheffield United signed his younger brother Arthur (born 1902) who also had a lengthy football career. After leaving Sheffield United in 1928 he played a final season of league football in 1929-30 for Torquay United, and settled in Devon, where his son, also Arthur but known as Dave, played 72 times for Torquay in the initial years after the resumption of football after World War Two.
NB In the photograph he challenges for the ball with Bolton Wanderers’ Alex Finney in the 1923 FA Cup semi final on 24th March 1923, held at Old Trafford in front of 72,500 spectators. Bolton won the game 1-0 with a goal from David Jack.