Sports Awards: Tony Fry plays crucial role in North Staffs Special Olympics' success
FORGET Sir Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden career at Manchester United, local football coach Tony Fry can top his achievements.
While Sir Alex has been lifting Premier League and Champions League silverware, Fry, from Dresden, has won more than 400 titles with the North Staffs Special Olympics football team.
His success has been part of a 42-year career in sport which started as a player and referee in local football in Farnham, Surrey.
And when he moved to Stoke in 1988, he set out the path to becoming one of the key people driving disability sport forward in the area.
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"I worked up here in a care home at the Villas in Stoke and the residents have special needs," said the 62-year-old. On a Monday and Thursday evening I went with them to sports events with the Stoke-on-Trent Dolphins Gateway club (Mencap).
"I was asked to get involved in the coaching side and everything has progressed from there."
Fry helped the group win 100 football titles up to 1995 when the Dolphins joined forces with North Staffs Special Olympics.
And he has continued to play a crucial role in providing sporting opportunities for disabled people.
The local, national and European stages have all seen winning performances from Fry's players, while in 2003 he led Ireland to silver at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
However, his dedication to sport has spread beyond the football pitch.
Fry is now chairman of North Staffs Special Olympics, a position he has held for the last three years.
The group boasts 118 members and more than 20 voluntary coaches.
Athletics, badminton and swimming are among the other sports played every week at venues from Northwood Stadium to Fenton Manor.
He is also currently planning for the national games in Bath in August, which will feature at least 32 local athletes, as well as the international meeting in 2015, which is set to be held in America.
Fry, who is also head coach of the West Midlands men's and ladies' football teams, has been nominated in the Tom Brennan Service to Sport category of The Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
"It is a marvellous achievement to be involved in sport for that length of time," said Matthew Fry, who has nominated his dad for the award.
"Everyone at the Special Olympics is a volunteer, but it takes a huge amount of time and effort to ensure everything runs smoothly.
"Football takes up a lot of his time, but he also has to oversee all of the coaches in the other sports as well.
"Dad is well respected across the country for the work he has carried out. I feel it would be fitting for him to be recognised for his dedication."