Beer Albion Football Club will mark its centenary year with a match against Axminster Town – opposition with special significance.
The Fishermen will hope to tame The Tigers at The Furzebreak in the one-off contest on Saturday, July 20 (kick-off 3pm).
Here, Beer Albion’s Richard Honnor writes about the upcoming fixture and the rich history of the club – on and off the pitch.
2019 is a special year for Beer Albion as it marks the centenary of the founding of this thriving village football club.
Beer Albion are delighted that Axminster Town have accepted an invitation to take part in a special one-off match to celebrate the occasion.
The game has special significance as the two clubs met in the very first final of the Morrison Bell Cup competition 1919-1920, the season Beer Albion FC was founded.
The game will be played on Saturday, July 20, at Beer’s home ground, The Furzebrake, Stovar Long Lane, kick-off 3pm. The 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.
Beer Albion Football Club (also known by their nickname ‘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 1950s, the club joined the Devon and Exeter league, entering two teams.
In 1977/78 a new clubhouse 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 and its two sides are well-supported by spectators on matchdays.
The club has also become a thriving community facility serving the village of Beer.
With the help of local businesses, sponsors and 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 field 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 1950s.
The side was particularly successful in the late 1950s, 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 80s, 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 1st X1 have managed to sustain their senior league 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 2nd X1 have also notched up some creditable achievements – particularly in recent times. They were Intermediate Division 5 champions in 1998/99 and Intermediate Division 3 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.
Beer Albion and Axminster Town contested the first-ever final of the inaugural Morrison Bell Cup competition in 1920.
The trophy 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 (aka ‘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.
Read more East Devon sport here.