Geoff Merrick

Geoff Merrick profile image


29 April 1951

Signed from: Apprentice, 1968
Position: Centre back
Seasons played: 1968-82
Appearances: 434
Goals: 13

The man who led City into the First Division as captain in 1976 grew up just ten minutes’ walk away from Ashton Gate and was taken to matches there by his parents from the age of seven. After representing Bristol Boys and England Schoolboys as captain, Geoff was a about to leave school to become a painter and decorator when scout Cliff Morgan came calling.

Originally a wing-half, Geoff soon demonstrated all the attributes necessary to succeed at centre-back, playing alongside Dickie Rooks and David Rodgers before forming the partnership with Gary Collier that was the linchpin of City’s 1975-76 Second Division promotion side.

That led to the honour of leading out his hometown club for their first game back in the topflight of English football for 65 years with the visit to Arsenal the following August. City won 1-0, comprehensively outplaying a Gunners side featuring World Cup winner Alan Ball and new £330,000 signing Malcolm Macdonald.

Quick off the mark and incisive in the tackle, Geoff was an inspirational skipper, deceptively good in the air and a shrewd reader of the game, skills that attracted the attention of Arsenal, who made a combined offer of around £240,000 for him and striker Tom Ritchie. It was rejected and both went on to play huge roles in the four seasons of First Division football still regarded as City’s ‘Glory Days’.

When England international Norman Hunter was signed by Alan Dicks from Leeds united, Geoff was switched to left- back where he was never quite as comfortable. On returning to his favoured centre-back role, he was voted Player of the Year by supporters for the second time at the end of the 1979-80 season.

After his long and illustrious City career ended, Geoff had a spell playing in Hong Kong before returning to play non-League football in the West Country.