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On 12th July, the traditional local curtain raising tournament for the football season will get under way once again when, following an unwanted two-year gap, the Fry Club Cup will commence.

This will be a special tournament as it will be the 50th organised since the competition began back in 1971.

Originally formed to help teams with pre-season football, the competition was started by Brian Davies along with Dennis and Velma Salter, and Brian Barker. Pete Wilkins was later involved in the running of the competition for 26 seasons, before Kevin Thatcher took over the role.

Dave Hughes has been another major contributer to the cup's success, having written reports for the competition for the Evening Post and local press right from the start in 1971 up until 2018. This also includes other unusual and bizarre happenings - one year a hot air balloon landed on the pitch whilst a game was in progress and another time, a match was stopped when a bird landed on a pitch … a yellow canary he recalls!  

Maybe the most bizarre result occurred in 1979 when Bristol Rovers A took on Port of Bristol and after the game ended in a draw, the resulting penalty shootout was a never ending one, Rovers eventually winning 19-18!

The first winners of the Cup in 1971 were Eden Grove, who beat Greenway Sports in the Final. St Philips Marsh Adult School won in two of the next three years, with Tabular Beaufort the first Sunday team to lift the trophy in 1977, before the inaugural runners-up, now as part of Almondsbury Greenway, began a period of domination with four wins in six years, completing a hat-trick in 1984.

The most successful team in the competition's history though is Lebeq Tavern, who have won it on no less than ten occasions, the first of which came in 1991 when they beat Bishop Sutton in the Final whilst the latest success was in 2018. They have also been runners-up a further five times. Bristol City and Bristol Rovers meanwhile have won the trophy three times each.

One year will be dear to the competition organisers though, in 2019 when Fry Club, who had never got past the semi finals previously, lifted the trophy for the very first time following a win against Stockwood Wanderers in the Final.

Congratulations to all at Fry Club on reaching such a prestigious milestone - and here's to the next 50!