Brian was a guest of honour of Bognor Regis Town at the Folkestone Invicta game on Saturday — along with members of his family — as the club helped him celebrate almost 80 years of being a supporter!

Brian, Bognor born and bred, will be 90 on the 19th July 2024. And for almost 80 of those 90 years he has been an avid Rocks fan after his Dad first started bringing him to watch Bognor play in the 1940s.

Rocks grandee Jack Pearce and officials at the MKM Arena honoured Brian as he was presented to supporters on the pitch before Robbie Blake’s men chalked up a 4-0 win in their final game of the Isthmian premier division campaign.

Brian said: “I first came down here with my Dad in 1947 and my big rattle and stood behind the goal — and I’ve still got the rattle! Today has been absolutely fantastic after coming down here all these years I never thought it would happen.”

Jack Pearce said: “He has been supporting the club for almost 80 years and done lots of jobs. I’m really pleased that we can find time as a club to support people who actually do the jobs that don’t necessarily get the fans clapping and saying wonder fully things but their importance to the club is just as great.”

Brian has played for the club, worked for the club and barely missed watching a home game. As a young man he played left back for Bognor Boys Club, LEC Refrigeration and for Bognor.

Unfortunately, his playing days were short-lived due to injury. Eager to be part of the football family Brian continued to be part of the Rocks team, running the second team for a time, and later by enthusiastically running out onto the pitch as the sponge man.

He also ensured the pitch stayed up to scratch by bringing his own mower (he ran a lawn mowing business) to mow the grounds when the club’s mower broke down.

In his early years of supporting the team Brian would stand on the mound behind the goal alongside many of his friends and three brothers; Syd, Rex and Don, all now sadly passed. The four brothers were all long-time loyal members and supporters — all involved in different capacities with the club and all commemorated by their individual plaques, proudly displayed at the ground.

He remembers when there was no clubhouse, just the mound. Then they gained two army Nissen huts, which later caught fire.

One of his memories of playing for Bognor was playing away at Arundel, where a stream ran alongside the pitch, and often flooded over, turning the ground into thick mud. He remembered a game where, “the mud was so thick, you had a job to get your feet out of the ground, let alone run and kick a ball. How the referee allowed that game we never did know, but it was very hard work!”

He also played at Eastbourne United’s ground, starting as sponge man but was then asked to go on as a sub because they were one short!

Brian and his wife Ruth, with their friendly smiles, subsequently ran the bar for more than 10 years which was open every Saturday and ran two darts teams. He was followed by his brother Rex Mercer who ran the bar for a long period afterwards.

Brian has always been present as an avid supporter for Bognor home games and also travelled to the big away games and notable cup clashes along the way. Winning the Sussex Senior Cup at Brighton a couple of times was great, and another high was beating Swansea City 3-1 in an FA Cup replay at Nyewood Lane in 1984!

He recalled: “We went to Swansea, to watch them play, they drew down there, brought them back here, and beat them. It was massive for the town. There were quite a few thousand there (around 3,700). That was their best ever run, when they beat Swansea.”

Nowadays the massive football fan can be found at all home games, standing on the half-way line with one of his sons Steve and a group of football mates: Terry, Dennis, Little Jim and Steven, sharing tea and cake supporting the Rocks in playing great football, enjoying their fight to satisfy their fabulous fan base and their continuous aim for success.