Beer Albion all set to celebrate their centenary with game against Axminster Town on Saturday

PUBLISHED: 09:31 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 19 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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Devon and Exeter League Premier side Beer Albion celebrate 100 years this coming Saturday (July 20) when they play Axminster Town at the Furzebrake with kick-off being at 3pm.

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Beer Albion, otherwise known as 'The Fishermen' began life in 1919 and are combining their 100 years with the centenary of the Morrison Bell Cup in which they were beaten 1-0 by Axminster Town in the very first final.

Attending Saturday's game will be guests from the Devon FA, the D & E league, the Perry Street League and the Morrison Bell Cup.

Although this is their centenary year the fishermen have now recorded 93 playing seasons since they first began the second world war interrupting the numbers.

The Albion started life in the Perry Street League, and stayed there until 1952 apart from one season (1922) in the East Devon Victory League.

In 1952 they joined the Exeter & District League, now the D & E league and have been there for the last 67 years.

So, over the years Beer have played over 2,000 league matches, winning around 800, but with a loss tally of about 900. Their goals tally is around 4350, but some 4700 conceded.

Beer finished third in Premier the first year they joined (1956) and were third again in 1960 but they have never bettered those two years.

They still have five championships under their belts winning Senior One four times and Intermediate One East just once.

Beer's Reserve team spent their early years in the Perry Street League and a couple of years in the Axe Vale League until they moved over to the Exeter & District in 1955 some 63 years ago. They also have a couple of championships to remember their first ever in 1999 and then again in 2007.

Axminster Town who have kindly agreed to this match to mark the occasion were already a hugely successful team pre-war and in a period of seven years after won nearly everything. Beer's infant days did not stop them reaching the very first Morrison Bell final played at the Camp ground in Honiton and they did well to limit Axminster to a 1-0 victory with Bert Leslie getting the vital goal.

The Morrison Bell cup was donated in 1920 by Sir Clive Morrison Bell a much decorated and distinguished Military Services officer. A prisoner of war for three years until he came home to East Devon again in 1919 to become the Member of Parliament for Honiton a post he served for 21 years. A keen football enthusiast his aim was to stimulate interest for the local game and this worked well especially among the supporters of the tigers and the fishermen.

In 1922 the fishermen defeated Axminster 3-1 in the semi-finals before winning the cup, beating holders Exmouth 2-1 in the final thanks to goals from Arthur Restorick and Laurie White.

Such was the excitement in Beer that when the footballers returned home the skipper W Collier sat on the bonnet of the first charabanc holding the trophy and parading behind the village brass band brandished the cup down through the village with the hordes cheering their team home!

The cup was then displayed in the shop window of Mr Lewis Hammett.

However, Axminster who were involved in so many other local cups, regained the Morrison Bell in 1923 when they defeated Budleigh Salterton 4-1 their goals coming from Billy Mitchell 2, Billy Reed and Bert Leslie. The crowd at Ottery was over 1,000 and gate money totalled £30.

Sadly Axminster have never won the trophy since, but this may be because in 1924 having lost 3-2 to Seaton in an earlier round they protested to the cups committee and the East Devon area FA because they felt Seaton played in ineligible player.

Even after winning their case with the FA the unhappy Tigers still refused to accept a replay.

It was all in vain anyway as Seaton were knocked out and Beer went on to share the trophy with Exmouth Church Institute after a 0-0 draw, no extra time in those days, and then in 1927 beat Exmouth again 2-1 in the final.

Since then Beer have won the cup on five other occasions but their last success was way back in 1961 winning 5-2 against Ottery St Mary.

We are grateful to Collin Goodwin, press officer of the Devon & Exeter League, for help with this article.

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