Two men who were classmates at Prince Alfred College in 1880 would become, more than seven decades later, the last living links with football’s earliest days in Western Australia.
Joe Langsford played with the Rovers in 1885 and was Perth’s oldest pioneer footballer when he died in 1957 at the age of 91. He outlived by three years his classmate Alf Fry, who came from Norwood to the Union team in 1887 and as a follower immediately celebrated a premiership at Barrack’s Field, later Fremantle Oval.
Alfred Fry was born in Adelaide on 20 August 1864 to Charles Fry and his wife Eliza, née Knuckey. He played at least one Norwood game. – at Adelaide Oval on 29 May 1886, when South Adelaide and Norwood were both below strength. Norwood was particularly weakened by injuries to ‘Paddy’ McGrath and Charlie Chandler, the absence of Harry Rischbieth and Lloyd Gwynne, and the failure of ‘Guff’ Rawson to arrive from the country in time. Former captain ‘Topsy’ Waldron, sporting silk for the first time that year, took Rawson’s place. The South Australian Advertiser added that. “J. Roachock and Fry” filled other gaps. South won a slow, error-riddled game 3.7 to 2.5.
“Fry played a rather better game than he did for the Adelaides some weeks ago,” according to ‘Follower’ in The South Australian Advertiser of 5 June 1886. In that report the Norwood newcomer is called “E. Fry”. That appears to be an error. It also might be argued that the Fry in question was another former PAC boy, Arthur Fry, who had played for South Adelaide in the previous three seasons and later served as a Methodist minister in WA. Sources in WA are in no doubt, however, that the Alf Fry who joined the Union team in 1887 came from Norwood.
Alf finished his senior football career at Fremantle, where he played a number of seasons with his old Norwood teammate ‘Paddy’ Knox.
A commercial traveller, Alf married Frances Groves in Wesley Church, Fremantle, in 1890 and they had three children, Alfred, Percy, Frances.
Alf in his later years was troubled by his right hip but remained spry and retained his spiky brown hair. His next-door neighbour was Tom Wilson, who in 1898 became the first captain of East Fremantle. Alf was in his 89th year when he died in Perth on 10 May 1953
P Robins, D Cox, T Gyss, G Wardell-Johnson Sept 2020