Birthday boy Joe Coles has followed Fulham for nearly 100 years

FELLOW members of the Bideford branch of the Civil Service Retirement Fellowship gathered for a party to mark the 103rd birthday of Joe Coles of Fremington.

The bring and share party in the communal hall at Grigg’s Close in Northam included a birthday cake made by branch treasurer Sylvia Moody and a bottle of whisky and other presents for Joe.

Originally from London, Joe is possibly the longest serving supporter of Fulham FC.

He tells how he and his two brothers as children used to play on the Fulham pitch with the three sons of the then groundkeeper.

“The players used to come out sometimes and play with us,” said Joe. “I played in goal and the Fulham goalkeeper at that time, Arthur Reynolds, helped by giving me tips.”

Still a keen follower of Fulham’s fortunes, Joe has received a letter from the club to mark his birthday.

Joe spent his working years with a major sugar brokers and in later years for the Government, looking after Commonwealth sugar agreements.

He and wife Doris met at work, where he was her boss.

“I hated him at first. He was very fastidious boss,” said Doris. But that changed and they have now been married for 54 years.

Now Doris says: “Joe is a very nice man. He never moans.”

Having spent many happy holidays in Devon, the couple moved from London to Fremington 34 years ago.

Quick with a quip, Joe always has plenty to say and likes nothing more than to make people laugh, including at St Peter’s Church in Fremington, where he and Doris are regular members of the congregation.