Philip French Somerville was born on September 27th, 1889 in Sheffield. The son of a doctor and descended from Irish landed gentry, he took up work as a fitter at Townsend's, in Sheffield, but a career in engineering offered few attractions for the young man, and he joined the army in July 1908. A reference from his local clergyman reckoned him to be "Industrious and respectable," but he soon found that the army life wasn't for him. He deserted from the 3rd Dragoon Guards at Aldershot in April 1909. Desertion in peacetime wasn't the big deal that it became during the Great War, and the army forgot about him. Philip Somerville slipped back into civilian life and began using the name "Percy Summers."
Percy Summers joined Chesterfield Town in the summer of 1910, originally as backup to Harry Sewell, who had himself been the reserve goalie in 1909-10. The identity of a previous club, if any, has proved elusive; a contemporary report of his signing noted that he came from Wales, which was later specified as the pit village between Beighton and Kiveton Park. Any lack of pedigree as a goalkeeper might have been exposed by the fact that he conceded 16 goals in 6 games for the reserves, but he performed well enough to be drafted in for a Midland League debut on October 13th 1910 at Nottingham Forest Reserves, after Sewell was injured in the previous match.
Percy found that the spectacular came easy to him, but the more mundane aspects of goalkeeping required concentration that was occasionally prone to lapse. Still, he kept his place and quickly became a darling of the crowd. Over the course of his maiden season he conceded around two goals each game, but the defensive problem could best be demonstrated by the fact that the club used no fewer than ten full-backs in that term. He played blinders at Bolton and Chelsea in the team's fine run to the last 16 of the FA Cup in the 1910-11season and was rated as one of the finest custodians in the Midland League by the end of it.
Summers remained first-choice for the next three seasons and was ever-present for two of those. In all, he missed only three Midland League games to injury, all in his final season here, 1913-14.
During the course of that season it became something of an open secret that he would not re-sign for 1914-15, and it was no surprise when his move to Grimsby Town was confirmed in May 1914. Percy had earned a crack at the Football League and he went on to play 34 times for The Mariners in the last season before the outbreak of war.
Whatever had forced Philip Somerville's desertion in 1909 was clearly not cowardice, for Percy Summers enlisted under his real name in the 17th (Footballers) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in February 1915. Again, he didn't last long as an army man, but this time he came home with honour, having been wounded in the hand and abdomen by a rifle grenade on the Somme on 20th March, 1916. He was transferred to a training battalion before being discharged in July 1917.
Wartime football as a "guest" in Sheffield Wednesday's nets offered hope that his injured hand might stand up to the rigours of professional football again, and Luton Town moved to offer him a chance to prove that for the 1919-20 season.
After one good season at Kenilworth Road Percy joined Margate in the summer of 1920 and played consistently for a couple of seasons before retirement. He and his wife took up jobs at the Dreamland amusement park and Percy was tempted out of retirement when Margate Town was formed in the summer of 1924 to replace his old club, which had been disbanded by the Kent FA in 1923. In November 1924 Summers picked up an injury to his hand that forced him to leave the game behind.
Percy and his family remained in Margate, operating a lodging house, before moving to Derby, his wife's home town, in the late 1920s. Percy worked for British Celanese at Spondon before retirement, and passed away in Derby in 1966.
For Chesterfield Town: 134 Midland League appearances (the most by any goalkeeper for any Chesterfield team until broken by Arnold Birch in 1927.)