Happy 65th Birthday Mervyn Day
Mervyn Day was born in Chelmsford, Essex on the 26th June 1955 – as a spot of trivia, he was educated at the same primary school as Sir Geoff Hurst, Kings Road Primary School, and represented Essex Schools at all levels. ‘Merv’ joined Ron Greenwood’s West Ham on a youth contract in 1971 and signed a professional contract two years later. Day’s father passed away when Mervyn was just 17 – Greenwood signed Day on full terms to enable the young goalkeeper to earn a little more money to help out at home.
Day (pictured below with another Hammers goalkeeping great Ernie Gregory) made his West Ham United debut on a rainy 27th August 1973 in a 3-3 home draw with Ipswich at the age of 18 and, just a season later, he was keeping a clean sheet against Fulham at Wembley as part of the Hammers’ 1975 FA Cup winning side. He was named the PFA Young Player of the Year for 1974/75 – Tony Cottee is the only Hammer to have won the award since, while no other goalkeeper has claimed the award since Day. The young custodian experienced European competition the following season, playing in every round of the club’s run to the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final where they were defeated 4-2 by Anderlecht.
Day’s form and confidence began to tail off and, after relegation to the Second Division in 1978, John Lyall signed Phil Parkes, paying a world record fee for a goalkeeper in the process. On breaking into the first team, Ron Greenwood had declared that Day was “the West Ham goalkeeper for the next ten years”. Day never quite lived up to that heady expectation and, after 237 appearances between the sticks for West Ham United, Day’s Hammers career came to a close on 10th February 1979 in exactly the same way as it had started, with a 3-3 draw at Upton Park, although this time the opposition was Sunderland in the Second Division. He signed for Leyton Orient for a fee of £100,000. He was chosen as the England ‘B’ substitute goalkeeper against New Zealand at Leyton in October 1979 and was made club captain in 1982.
After four years rebuilding his confidence with our east London neighbours, the 28-year-old Day signed for Aston Villa as cover for Nigel Spink in 1983 for a fee of £15,000. He teamed up with former Hammers team-mate Alan Curbishley at Villa Park – a partnership that was to be resurrected later in the pair’s careers. After two years at Villa, Day was on the move again, this time to Leeds where he spent a successful eight years helping restore the Elland Road club to the top flight and being part of the squad that won the 1991/92 First Division title. He spent two brief loan spells with Luton and Sheffield United before ending his playing career with Carlisle, having appeared in over 700 league and cup matches.
Day spent just over a season as manager of Carlisle from August 1996 to September 1997 before becoming Curbishley’s first-team coach at Charlton. He followed ‘Curbs’ back to where it all began, becoming assistant manager of West Ham United in December 2006 and staying through to Curbishley’s resignation in September 2008. He has since worked as chief scout at Leeds, been Head of Recruitment at Brighton and West Brom, and been Head of Scouting at Bristol City. Day, 65 today, is currently First Team Domestic Scout at Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.