Douglas L.H. Mercer

Douglas L.H. Mercer
United Kingdom
Born: 26 June, 1883 Died: 20 January, 1963

DLH Mercer only played badminton to club standard but became an administrator of the highest order.

He was present when the International Badminton Federation was founded, becoming its first honorary treasurer in 1934 and fulfilling the role for 21 years.

On stepping down he was made an Honorary Life Vice President.

He was also secretary and treasurer of the Badminton Association of England from 1938-46, and for eight years up to the start of the Second World War, edited The Badminton Gazette.

IBF Career

1934-1955: Honorary Treasurer

1955-1963: Honorary Life Vice President

Badminton Association of England Career

1924: Committee Member

1925: Served on the International Selection and All England Tournament committees

1927-38: Honorary Secretary of Middlesex BA

1931-39: Editor of The Badminton Gazette

1934: Vice President

1938-45: Honorary Secretary and Treasurer

Not many people can claim to have begun playing badminton in a friend’s flat which had two rooms divided by folding doors with a net attached. But that novel beginning in 1899, while a pupil at Warwick School, set DLH Mercer on the road to a 60-year involvement in the game.

Like many of his generation ‘Merk’ was a solid club player but a far better administrator – and not just for badminton. Cricket and golf were two other sports to benefit from his skills.

But badminton was to benefit the most. He was only 10 years into his career as a badminton official when he was elected Honorary Treasurer at the inaugural meeting in 1934 of the International Badminton Federation.

One of the 14 officials present at the start of the new world organisation, he went on to serve until 1955, before being made an Honorary Life Vice President.

At the same time he edited The Badminton Gazette from 1931-39 and was made
BA of E Vice President in 1934. By 1938 he was BA of E Treasurer and also took over as Secretary on the death of F. W. Hickson, who had also been the inaugural Secretary of the IBF.

Douglas Lindsay Hugh Mercer was born in 1883 in Southsea, the Portsmouth suburb where 10 years later, Major S. S. Dolby was to set about forming the original Badminton Association. Douglas was the son of a Simla-born Army officer (also called Douglas) who served in India and was one of a long family line of high-ranking military men

At Warwick School, which went on to have one of the first properly organised badminton clubs, Mercer excelled at cricket, rugby, Fives, throwing the cricket ball, and drop and place kicking. He later developed into a good footballer and billiards player.

After leaving school The Badminton Gazette of March 1938 tells how he entered the Royal Indian Engineering College, passing out in 1904 with the degree of Associate. The following year he joined what was then the Great Northern Railway which subsequently amalgamated with the LNER. Initially, he worked with the engineering staff before transferring to the surveyors’ department in 1908.

For all his sporting prowess and athleticism, he was three times turned down for wartime Army service on medical grounds.

But it didn’t deter his enthusiasm for badminton and The Badminton Gazette records that “while never quite in Championship class, he is a more than useful club player and in his prime was recognised by the ‘stars’ as an extremely difficult man to beat.” He twice won the men’s doubles and once the mixed doubles at the Alexandra Palace BC Championships and twice reached the finals of the All England men’s doubles 1st class handicap.

His first steps on the administrative path came when he founded the Barnet Badminton Club in 1905 and a year later joined the nearby Alexandra Palace club, acting as treasurer from 1910-23 before then becoming match secretary. By 1930, he was elected the club’s Vice President as well as being present at the birth of the Middlesex County BA in 1927, quickly becoming Secretary.

Recognition was rapid as by now he was also a Committee Member of the Badminton Association, and by 1934 its Vice President. That same year he took his place on the IBF.

Amid all this he was also President of the Bucks, Berks and Oxon Association while in 1931 starting his eight-year stint as editor of the Gazette.

The Gazette’s manager, K. G. Livingstone wrote: “His knowledge of badminton, both from a playing point of view and in the administrative field, is profound. On and off the court he is an example for all.”

But on top of all this Merk was, from 1921, a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), rose to President of Nondescripts Cricket Club, in turn Secretary, Treasurer and Vice President of Hornsey CC and captain and secretary of Old Warwickians cricket club.

In golf he played off handicap 9, and was a member and a captain of Arkley Golf Club for at least three years.

He was also a member of the Society of London Golf captains and a member of the LNER Golf Society along with the great steam locomotive engineer, Sir Nigel Gresley (who designed Mallard, the fastest steam locomotive on record).

Mercer won two tournaments including the Society’s first evening meeting and in 1930 he had the Society’s first hole in one - at the 153-yard third hole at Hadley Wood. He was also a member of the Badminton Golfing Society

Just before the end of the Second World War Mercer decided to step down from his roles with the Badminton Association of England and retired to Sidmouth in Devon, although still retaining some of his honorary posts with IBF and BA of E.

In no time at all he was elected Match Secretary and Treasurer of Sidmouth Cricket, Lawn Tennis and Bowls Club without losing contact with his many friends in badminton.

But his retirement was touched with sadness when his only daughter Peggy Grimaldi died suddenly in St Albans. She had been a keen player at the Alexandra Palace BC and had helped her father with his editing of the Gazette.

Last word on ‘Merk’ goes to the Gazette who sum him up as follows: “Mr Mercer has innumerable friends in the world of sport, but many of them acquainted only with his work in connection with their own particular branch, will be surprised to learn what he is doing for other games as well. Learning of it they will no doubt marvel at the air of leisured detachment which characterises him and they will certainly think he must have found the secret of arranging an occasional armistice with time, such as we would all like to be able to negotiate at will.”

Sources:

BWF Archives

The Badminton Gazette

Badminton England Museum

Eastern Region Railway Golfing Society History

 -- By William Kings

Douglas lindsay hugh mercer or merk to his wide circle of friends - badminton gazette march 1938 150 Dlh mercer - badminton gazette march 1929