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When Arsenal and Fulham were within moments of merging into one club… full details in “Making the Arsenal”
Bertie Mee – taking us back to reality
To begin, a correction to the details of what happened under Bertie Mee. I had us in a cup final against West Ham which never happened. Really sorry.
|Year||League||FA Cup exit||League Cup exit||Europe exit|
|1969/70||12th||3rd||3rd||Won Fairs Cup|
|1970/71||1st||Won||4th||4th round Fairs Cup|
|1971/72||5th||Finalists||4th||3rd round Euro Cup|
The trophy and near miss level is therefore, over a 10 year period
- League wins: 1
- League runners up: 1
- Top four finishes: 3
- Cup wins: 2
- Cup beaten finalists: 3
(Unless someone would like to save me the trouble it would be interesting to complete just such a list for the other managers from Chapman onwards, in the light of earlier discussions).
Anyway, back to Bertie Mee.
He was born in Nottinghamshire and had a very modest and short career with Derby County and Mansfield as well as appearing for Southampton in the war time league of 1940/1.
He trained as a physiotherapist in the Royal Army Medical Corps where he became a sergeant and then worked as a remedial gymnast with disabled servicemen for 12 years.
I have read that he then joined another club or clubs before joining the staff of Arsenal in 1960, first as a trainer, then physiotherapist – but I am not sure what clubs. Perhaps you can help me out.
Anyway what is certain is that Bertie Mee took over from Billy Wright as a caretaker manager initially. One story is that he asked for a clause in his contract that would allow him to be the physiotherapist once again if things did not go well in the first year.
It is perhaps a further measure of the man that he made no secret of the fact that his hobby was ballroom dancing. Now I come to think of it I heard Mr Wenger say that he was a very competent dancer – maybe that should be a question when we interview prospective managers. But Bertie could also swing a left punch – there is a story that when the restaurant fight broke out in Rome after the Lazio game he waded in with the rest of the team. Or so the story goes.
Bertie Mee brought in George Graham and Bob McNab as early signings, and worked with Don Howe and Dave Sexton as his assistants. (Don left to manage WBA after the double).
After leaving Arsenal he joined Watford as general manager, working with Graham Taylor and Elton John, with special responsibility for scouting, and was appointed an OBE in 1983. He retired in 1991 and died in London in 2001.
We’ll continue the series with a look at some of his top players.
Bertie Mee: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light
The Allison Era: 37 Years from Administration to Domination
The First Double: a series of five quizzes to test your knowledge on 1971