Billy Mercer started keeping goal comparatively late, as a kid when, at the age of fourteen, he found that no-one else would go in goal for his junior side (how many other great 'keepers have started like that? He began to train as a metal worker but was soon taken on to Liverpool's staff. As third choice behind Bruce Groebellar and Mike Hooper, opportunities were limited, and he was loaned to Rotherham United: to Billy's understandable initial disappointment, the move became permanent in February, 1989. As a Miller, he first came to the attention of Chesterfield fans in the '91-2 season, when he was carried off injured in a game at Saltergate. Another future Spireite, Nicky Law, went in goal and kept Chesterfield at bay.
He was invited to join Sheffield United's tour of Australia in the summer of '94 and a permanent move was worked out a few months after returning from that, but again he found himself in a queue behind two accomplished goalies, in Simon Tracey and Alan Kelly, this time. He spent eight games on loan at Forest as cover to Mark Crossley and joined the Spireites on loan in September, 1995. He stayed for two months while Andy Beasley recovered from injury but, when Beasley was struck down again shortly afterwards, Billy joined on a permanent basis, for a £93,000 fee.
Having learnt under the flamboyant Groebellar and the technically adept Kelly, Billy definitely favours the latter's approach. In him, Chesterfield acquired an excellent 'textbook' keeper, with good positional sense and aerial ability. Billy was also one of the best 'keepers around at 'point-blank' work. Above all, he was always in charge of his emotions on the pitch, remaining calm when play centred around him. A star of the club's 1996-7 FA Cup run, Billy suffered a groin injury during that season but played through it as the team made headlines.
Billy was sold to Bristol City for £250,000 when increased admission prices and poor team performances caused gates to slump. Plagued by injury, his City career barely got off the ground, but he became well-respected at Ashton Gate. He began coaching goalkeepers there and, when injuries finally forced the curtain to come down on his first-class playing career he continued in that capacity. Billy is currently on the coaching staff at Burnley.
For Chesterfield: 149 Football League appearances. 40 clean sheets, 98 conceded.