Beer Albion meeting Axminster Town to mark their Centenary Year

PUBLISHED: 12:21 11 July 2019

Beer Albion Football Club 1919-20;  (Back row, left to right) Arthur Westlake, Alan White, Arthur Collier, Peter White (Capt), Harry Miles, WR David; (Middle row) Tommy Driver, Rob Rowe, Laurie White, Charlie Perkins, Jack Perkins (Front row) Jack Northcott, Norman Satterley and Will Collier. Picture: RICHARD HONNOR

Beer Albion Football Club 1919-20; (Back row, left to right) Arthur Westlake, Alan White, Arthur Collier, Peter White (Capt), Harry Miles, WR David; (Middle row) Tommy Driver, Rob Rowe, Laurie White, Charlie Perkins, Jack Perkins (Front row) Jack Northcott, Norman Satterley and Will Collier. Picture: RICHARD HONNOR

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Beer Albion Football Club is set to celebrate its 100th birthday, writes Richard Honnor.

What's more, the club are set to mark its centenary with a one-off match to celebrate the occasion with the opposition provided by Axminster Town, who Beer met in the very first final of the Morrison Bell Cup competition, which came at the end of the 1919-1920 campaign, the season Beer Albion FC was founded.

The centenary match is being played at Furzebrake on Saturday, July 20, with kick-off being 3pm.

Entrance fee is £2, which includes a programme and a raffle ticket. The bar will be open from 1pm and light refreshments will also be available. The club extends a warm welcome to anyone wishing to come up to the Furzebrake and enjoy the occasion.

The Morrison Bell Cup was donated to East Devon football by Sir Clive Morrison Bell, a distinguished military services officer who became MP for Honiton after the First World War.

A keen football enthusiast, his aim was to stimulate interest for the local game. Axminster Town, otherwise known as 'The Tigers', were a hugely successful team pre-war dominating the East Devon football scene.

When the two sides met in the first Morrison Bell Cup final, newly formed Beer Albion were not even operating in league football at the time so losing by the narrow margin of 1-0 to the all-conquering Tigers was no mean achievement.

But the Fishermen did go on to win this trophy seven times, albeit their last success being way back in 1961!

Beer Albion wish to place on record their thanks to Axminster Town for agreeing to take part in this special occasion and we all look forward to an enjoyable afternoon.

Beer Albion Football Club, who are also known as 'The Fishermen' was formed on October 17, 1919 in the The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) room at the rear of the Dolphin Hotel.

The majority of the players who formed the club served on HMS Albion during the First World War, hence the name 'Albion' being adopted.

Initially, games were friendlies and cup matches against local teams. In 1921 the club joined the recently formed Perry Street Junior and minor league. Both Beer teams remained in this league until 1952.

During the early years the home pitch was situated at White Cliff, adjacent to New Road and Beer Hill, and as the name suggests it was very close to the cliff edge.

In 1935 the club acquired the site known as the Furzebrake in Stovar Long Lane. Clinton Estates agreed an annual rent of £1 initially.

The field was covered in bracken and gorse bushes. These were gradually removed and 18 months later the pitch was good enough for games to take place and the Furzebrake became the Club's new home. A small wooden hut was provided for the changing rooms.

In 1947 a small grandstand was erected and paid for by the then Vice-Chairman, Derek Good.

This remained in place until a larger and safer grandstand was built in 1996 by Mike Anning and Andy Cobbold with considerable assistance from the players and committee.

In the early 1950's the club joined the Devon and Exeter league, entering two teams. In 1977/78 a new club house was built by the players and committee with Basil Lang and player Norman Rooke in charge of construction.

In the Spring of 1988 the clubhouse was doubled in size to accommodate a committee room and small licensed bar.

In more recent times, the club has continued to flourish as a successful local football club and its two sides are well-supported by spectators on match days.

The club has also become a thriving community facility serving the village of Beer. With the help of local businesses, sponsors and club volunteers, the club has improved its facilities. Notable achievements include further enhancements to the bar and clubhouse and the provision of an outside children's play area. The club hosts a variety of social activities such as the August Village Fun Day which takes place annually as part of Beer Regatta Week Celebrations. The club pitch also now serves as a helicopter landing site for the emergency services.

Beer Albion are fortunate to receive generous sponsorships from many businesses and individuals and are currently privileged to have Edenvale Turf (SW) Ltd as their main club sponsor.

On the playing side, the Fishermen have had some noteworthy successes since joining the Devon and Exeter League in the 1950's.

The side was particularly successful in the late 1950's, when they gained promotion to the Premier Division for the first time and achieved high league placings in the top tier for several seasons thereafter.

In the early 80's after a number seasons of Intermediate League football the Fishermen regained Devon and Exeter Senior League status with back-to-back championships in intermediate divisions.

Since then, the Fishermen's first team have manage to maintain senior status in Devon football without compromising on their principles to develop and select local talent wherever possible and without resorting to financial incentives to attract players. Looking to the future, the club is excited about the recent appointment of new 1st XI co-managers Mark Rooke and Alan Potter for the forthcoming season.

Beer second team have also notched up some creditable achievements particularly in recent times. They were Intermediate Division Five champions in 1998/99 and Intermediate Division Three winners in 2006/7.

Over the years, the Fishermen have excelled in cup competitions. Successes include winning the Golesworthy Cup on three occasions, they have been one-time winners of the Bill Slee and Geary trophies respectively.

But pride of place must go to their achievement in winning the Morrison Bell Trophy on seven occasions.

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