Dunfermline Athletic

Former Pars Player, Bonar Mercer's 'Behind the Scenes' interview in full

Wednesday, 16th Jan 2013

first published in The Game, 12th January

Bonar Mercer

1. You've been involved with FPA since it formed in 2009, how did it get started?

The idea of forming a Former Players Association was suggested by one of the Club Historians, Chris Wishart, and programme interviewer Bob Storie. The idea was put to several players who also thought it a good idea and so the DAFC FPA was formed. There is a core of ex-players who all live in or near Dunfermline and we are all supporters of the Club. Dr Whyte was a natural choice to be the first Chairman and his leadership continued until he died. I took over as Chairman from November 2009 until September last year when I handed over to Roy Barry and so the FPA will continue to support the Club and charities.

2. Why do you think it is important for the Club to have the FPA and what are the association's main duties?

The FPA was like a reunion club when it started where we caught up with guys that we had not seen since the early 70's but we wanted to find a direction and purpose for the association.. We have raised money for charities and we have made donations to the Club and to the youth development at the Club which is becoming even more important to football clubs as money becomes tighter and tighter. The FPA appear at hospitality on match days, fund raising quizzes and anything that can give support to the Club. We nominate an ex-player to be abused by Mr Leishman in the Kingdom Suite before the match to entertain those taking hospitality and this has proved very popular! There is still a great camaraderie between players - even though they may have played in a different era the common factor is that we all played for the Pars and enjoyed being part of the Club.

3. You played for DAFC in the 1970s - how did you start out in football?

Like most boys of my age I used to go to the local park where we played football (the type where your jersey was the goal post) and cricket, and any other outdoor games. My friends from school said that they had started playing football for a team playing at Pittencrief Park (not the Glen but it's still a football pitch.) We changed in a lock-up nearby and played against teams from as far away as Edinburgh. I moved to Townhill Boys Club where Kenny Thomson played and his Father helped with training. Leish came to play for Townhill too and we were seen by Eddie Hall, a Dunfermline Scout and then we fed into the youth set up at Dunfermline Athletic and eventually signed an 's' form which tied us to the club.

Bonar Mercer

4. How did it feel to get your break into the First Team?

I was signed by George Farm who fed us into the reserves and gave us experience with the First team squad by taking us to pre-match meals and let us have experience with the first team players. Kenny Thomson, Leish, Gordon Pate and Pud Patterson were all part of the same group. Our heads were kept firmly on the ground by 'Dad' Bain. I was invited to join the squad for the pre-match meal at the City Hotel for the friendly game against West Ham United. I was allowed to eat more than the players because I would not be playing - it was great to be included and I was living my dream having been born overlooking East End Park. Then, John Lunn became ill about an hour before the match and George Farm told me I would be playing against Bobby Moore, Clive Best, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst. Even now I can't remember everything clearly I was in such a star struck haze!

5. You've played with and against some big name footballers like George Best and Bobby Moore but what's been the best moment in your own career at DAFC?

There are many memorable moments for me - playing against Celtic full of the great names and of course Rangers mostly because they had all the big names in Scottish football. But there is one game that stays vividly in my memory, the promotion decider against Falkirk at East End. The scenario was Falkirk had to beat us to get promotion; anything less and we would be promoted. We lost John Salton after 20 mins. We went a goal down and just had to get back into the match. Jim Scott hit a great shot from outside the box and their centre half tipped the ball over the bar using his hand - PENALTY. Andy Rolland complete with full curly hair stepped up to take the kick - I and most other players did not actually watch the kick being taken but heard the response of the crowd - Promotion.

6. What's your favourite football highlight (a Pars one or otherwise!)?

Playing for the Scottish Schools and the Scottish Youth Team. We were scheduled by coincidence to play against England twice in a two week period. We beat their schoolboys at Leicester and beat the Youth team at Derby. What a fortnight!

7. Who is your favourite player of all time?

It's hard to choose one player as the best, there are so many players from different eras who are great players, Beckenbauer, Pele, Moore and today there is Messi. For me the best was the aptly named George Best who played and starred at a time when tackles were brutal yet he used to keep getting up and beating them. Watching his archives is a joy that all men understand.

8. What are your hopes for the Club this year and how do you feel the first team is shaping up under Jim Jefferies?

We are a Club in a period of change so expectations for the team are mixed. Of course I would like them to get promoted to the Premiership but perhaps that would not be the best long-term move for us. The team are playing great football under Jim and he has made changes to the playing staff with very little funding. We all enjoy seeing the team playing entertaining football and that is what we will get with Mr Jeffries in charge. If only there was a way of convincing another two or three thousand locals to come along to games to create an even better atmosphere to bring the best out of the players.

9. Are there any stand-out players for you in the current first team? Any players that remind you of yourself at that stage?

Fortunately for the players none remind them of me! But we have a group of players who don't give up and fight for each other. Ryan Thomson is a product of our own youth policy buy we now have a group of youngsters from goalkeeper to forward line. Michael Hrivnak (say that after a few pints) in goals, Thomson, Byrne, Husband, Morris, Whittle, to mention a few. Watching them progress will be exciting.

This interview was first published in The Game on Saturday, 12th January 2013.


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