Francis "Frank" or "Felix" Crawley/Crowly/Crowley

Frank Crawley, elsewhere named as Felix Patrick Crawley, was born in Scotland, played international football at right-back for Canada on its 1927 tour of New Zealand and is honoured in the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame (CSHF). But beyond that he is a problem because it appears Diasporan Scots might have been conflagrated. 

The CSHF has him born in 1894 in Paisley, dying in 1945. The difficulty is that there is no Francis Crawley born in that town in that year, although there is one, who, having lived in Canada, married in North America in about 1928, died in 1945, albeit in Detroit in the USA, lived in Paisley but was born there of a Greenock family only in 1897 and as Crowly.

Meanwhile, Colin Jose, the late, pre-eminent historian of Canadian soccer, who calls him Felix Patrick "Frank" Crawley, was very precise about birth, death and other details. He too had him born in 1894 and on the same day and dying in the same year as CSHF and in Detroit too. And there was a Felix Crawley cum Crowley, who also possibly lived both in Canada and in Detroit and indeed was born in 1894. But they are not the same. Both were married but not to the same woman, Francis to Margaret Thomson, Felix to Alice Mathieson, both Scots-born, and the birthplace of this latter Frank/Felix, whilst still Scotland was definitely Glasgow, indeed Maryhill. 

So what more do we know? Colin Jose says that his Felix played junior football in Scotland for Croy Celtic and Kirkintilloch Rob Roy. Both would be compatible with Maryhill and less so with Renfrewshire but not impossibly so. He then signed going South in 1921 for Blackburn Rovers and there is Frank Crawley who played for that club as a left-back in 1921-22 and 1922-23. From that time we even have a picture of him. Then he is said to have played for Lincoln City in 1923 and Accrington Stanley in 1924 before leaving for Canada the following year. And in 1924-25 he is there in the Accrington team, once more at left-back, by which time he would have been either thirty, a normal age for League football retirement, or twenty-seven and still in his prime barring injury. 

It therefore seemed at first more likely that our Frank Crawley was the older, which could be reinforced by Jose then stating that his Crawley on arrival played perhaps three seasons in Toronto and then in 1928 crossed the border to the New Bedford Whalers in Massachusetts for three games only and Brooklyn Wanderers for two. By then he would have been thirty-four with the legs going.  

Except that Felix Crawley with a wife, Alice, and from Glasgow is recorded as crossing from Canada to the USA in October 1923, therefore could not be at the same time running around Sincil Bank. It leads to the final conclusion that Frank Crawley, Scottish and Canadian footballer, was Francis Patrick Phillips Crawley, born 1897 in Paisley, but as Crowly and living there still in 1901. He then was in 1911 staying with family in Clydebank, able to emigrate to Canada in 1913 at sixteen, his sister living in Toronto, and in 1915 at seventeen, lying about his birth-day by a year and recorded as a cook, joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force and presumably serving in France.

Then after the War he was to remain in Scotland, living in 1921 in Greenock with his mother until the senior game took him South. And it was from there after a truncated footballing career in England he returned to Toronto, played for Dunlops and Bell Telephone, toured New Zealand, before crossing to the USA and New Bedford and New York. And it was in the Big Apple that he seems to have met his wife, married her in 1929, worked as a motor mechanic and where Margaret and he had their first daughter. He then moved to Detroit, had a second daughter and would stay there for the rest of his life, dying in Motor City in 1945 to be buried in the Roseland Park Cemetery.

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