Wednesday, December 25, 2013

25 December 1918 - Bertie Is Born

On 25 December 1918, Arsenal's Double-winning manager Bertie Mee was born in Nottinghamshire.

In the 1930s, he played for Derby County and Mansfield Town, but his career was ended by injury. He then turned to physiotherapy while serving as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps. It was in that role that he first joined Arsenal, signing up with the club in 1960.

When the Gunners sacked manager Billy Wright in the summer of 1966, they promoted Mee to the position. Reportedly, he was unsure about the move and asked for a clause allowing him to return to his physio post after a year if the new appointment did not go well. But the team finished seventh in that first season, encouraging him to stick with it.

In 1970, he guided the club to the Fairs Cup Final, where they beat Anderlecht 4-3 on aggregate. The next year, they won their first league title since 1953 and also won the FA Cup to complete the club's first Double.

The results faltered over the next few years and Mee was replaced in 1976 by Terry Neill. In 1978, he joined Watford as a scout and in 1984 he was honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to football. He died in 2001 at the age of 82.

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