Cromford, Derbyshire born goalkeeper Jack “String” Fryer played junior football for Abbey Rovers in 1893, Cromford in 1894 and Clay Cross Town in 1895 from where he was signed by Derby County in September 1897, making his Football League debut at Liverpool a month later. A tall and heavy goalkeeper, reputedly one of the heaviest players to have taken to a football pitch, although not comparable to Sheffield United’s Willie Foulke in that respect, he soon made the Derby County goalkeeping jersey his own, and in his first two seasons was a losing FA Cup Finalist first against Nottingham Forest in 1898, then against Sheffield United a year later, both Finals at The Crystal Palace. He was again a losing Cup Finalist in 1903 with The Rams, as they suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Bury in the Final, also at The Crystal Palace.
After 199 appearances over six seasons at Derby County he transferred to Southern League club Fulham in May 1903 and had notable success there, becoming club captain and winning the Southern League Championship in successive seasons with The Cottagers in 1905-06 and 1906-07. But he broke his arm in April 1907 and it was this injury that meant that by the time Fulham joined the Football League that summer he lost his place and was no longer the first choice goalkeeper, Leslie Skene having taken over the gloves, Fryer not playing again until Christmas 1908, and he made only 24 further first team appearances before retiring in part due to the arm injury in 1910, having made 168 appearances for Fulham in his time at the club. The popular Fryer had been awarded a benefit match in March 1909 when Fulham played Clapton Orient in a Second Division fixture, receiving £630 from it.
NB in the photograph dated 13th October 1906 Portsmouth captain Albert Buick shakes hands with Jack Fryer ahead of Portsmouth’s Southern League match with Fulham at Fratton Park. Fulham went on to win the 1906-07 Southern League Championship.