In its rich history, Bristol has nurtured some of the great stars of the past and present.
We would like to thank Dave Fox and Mark Hoskins for allowing us to take advantage of the superb research they did for their book "Bristol Football Club (RFU) - 100 Greats". Dave and Mark contributed the information and the images.
If you would like to get more information on the club, its players and its history, then you can buy their book at most leading bookshops in Bristol.
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- Name - Mike Fry
- Position - Prop
- Honours - Somerset, South & South West
- Career - 1968-1981 435 games
- Scored - 14t, 1c = 58 points
Mike Fry, arguably the greatest prop forward in the history of the club, was Bristol's captain for two seasons. A strong, abrasive loose head, he was ignored by representative selectors for most of his playing career, but was greatly respected by his team mates and by opposition front rows, particularly in Wales.
Fry played rugby and soccer at Bedminster Down School, but played little rugby for the next few years, partly because of a motor cycle accident. He eventually joined Cotham Park and was called into the Bristol United side on five occasions in 1967/68. At that time Bristol's policy was that prop forwards should be big men and Fry, who was comparatively short, was used as a hooker in some of his early games. The general feeling was that he would not make the grade on account of his size, but he played twice for the first team the following season and received his United cap at the end of 1969/70. During this period he numbered goalkicking amongst his skills and often acted as the United's kicker.
Mike Fry was United captain in 1970/71, although by this time he was cementing his place in the first team. He made 30 first team appearances in 1971/72, was awarded his cap, and played regularly from then on. He upped his appearances to 45 in the following season, winning his club blazer and performing heroics in Bristol's cup final defeat against Coventry. Hooker John Pullin was injured in the first minute of the game and Fry managed three strikes against the head as stand-in hooker in a seven man pack. He made his Somerset debut in this year.
Fry became Bristol's vice captain in 1974/75, playing in more games than any other forward, and led the club's appearances with 42 games in 1976/77. He was appointed Bristol captain in 1978/79 and led the side for two very successful seasons. The first of these saw Bristol struggling in mid-season before embarking on a superb run of seventeen consecutive victories up to the season's end. Only eleven games were lost and over one thousand points scored in 1979/80 and Fry achieved the remarkable feat of appearing in all 95 games during his captaincy, reaching 400 career appearances in the final match. He eventually extended his consecutive run to 102 games.
In 1979 he received a long overdue call-up to the South and South West side to play New Zealand at Exeter. Fry, who was not an original selection for the game, was given the job of pack leader and acquitted himself well, although his team lost 16-0. Afterwards he claimed that the game was no harder than many he had played in Wales. Fry always relished Welsh encounters and learned much in his United days from fixtures with Monmouthshire valley sides.
The only other regular representative rugby that Mike Fry played was for Somerset, for whom he appeared on 21 occasions. He decided to give county rugby a miss during his seasons as Bristol captain, but was delighted to be recalled in 1980 to lead Somerset against Devon at Bridgwater. Unfortunately various incidents during Somerset's 18-9 defeat led to his being banned from the county team for the rest of the season. Fry certainly stood no nonsense on a rugby field, but despite his reputation he was only sent off once. This was during an ill-tempered cup match at London Irish in 1976 when Fry was singled out in a poorly controlled game where much skulduggery went unnoticed and unpunished.
The 1980/81 season was Fry's last as a Bristol player as he chose to bow out on his own terms rather than hang on for one season too many. He played 35 matches during his final year, making his final home appearance on Easter Monday in a 63-9 win against Abertillery. His fellow players did their best to provide him with a try scoring farewell, but it was not to be and he also failed with the conversion of the game's final try. His last match was at Coventry the following Saturday, and although Bristol lost 14-4, it was a memorable day for Fry as a presentation was made to him by the Bristol Supporters' Club before the game. He went on Bristol's American tour and then left the club to captain and coach Old Redcliffians.
Under Fry's guidance Old Reds reached the Bristol Combination and Somerset Cup finals in 1982, losing on both occasions to Keynsham. The club won the Combination Cup in 1983 and the Somerset Cup final was reached again. Although Fry's well beaten by Bath the team qualified for the next season's John Player Cup. In this competition Reds defeated Devon and Cornwall Police and Worthing to set up a third round clash with senior side London Scottish. Under Fry's inspirational leadership Old Redcliffians gave their visitors a real fright before losing 24-15. Reds finally won the Somerset Cup at the end of the 1983/84 season, beating Keynsham 22-9 . As a fitting finale to Fry's playing career the Somerset and Combination Cups were won again in 1985.