Ernie Crawford

Ernie Crawford
Full name William Ernest Crawford
Date of birth (1891-11-17)17 November 1891
Place of birth Belfast, Ireland
Date of death 12 January 1959(1959-01-12) (aged 67)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Full back
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Athlone Town
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)

William Ernest Crawford (17 November 1891 – 12 January 1959)[1] also known as Ernie Crawford was an Ireland rugby union international during the 1920s. He was also a noted soccer player and was included in the Ireland squad for the 1924 Olympic Football Tournament.

Club career

While living in Belfast, Crawford played rugby union for Malone and soccer for Cliftonville. After moving to Dublin, he maintained his interest in both codes. He was club captain at Lansdowne for the 1921-22 and 1922-23 seasons, taking over from Noel Purcell.[2] At the same time he also played soccer for Bohemians and became something of a cult hero at the club when, after a Metropolitan Cup game against Shamrock Rovers, he removed his jersey and challenged Bob Fullam to a fight! This episode is still recalled by Bohemians fans in the chant:

"Ernie Crawford, he's our friend,
He's our friend, he's our friend
Ernie Crawford, he's our friend
He hates Rovers"

Due to his rugby union commitments and the presence of fellow full backs, Jack McCarthy and Bertie Kerr, Crawford was never a first choice in the Bohemians senior team, but he did play regularly for their second team in the Leinster Senior League. During the 1926–27 and 1927–28 seasons Crawford would also assist Athlone Town on a number of occasions, especially when they visited Dublin.

International career

Rugby union

Between 1920 and 1927 Crawford made 30 appearances for Ireland. He made his debut on 14 February 1920 against England at Lansdowne Road. The majority of his appearances were in the Five Nations Championship but in 1924 he also played against a touring New Zealand. During his international rugby career he scored six conversions and two penalties. He also captained Ireland on fifteen occasions between 1924 and 1927. One of the highlights of his career came on 13 February 1926 when he captained Ireland to a 19-15 win over England - their first win over England for fifteen years. He played his final game for Ireland against Wales on 12 March 1927.[3][4] His Ireland team mates included William Roche and Noel Purcell.


In 1924, after playing in a trial game, Crawford was one of six Bohemians players selected in a squad to represent Ireland at the 1924 Olympic Football Tournament. The other five were Jack McCarthy, Bertie Kerr, Johnny Murray, Christy Robinson and John Thomas.[5] However when the final squad was reduced to sixteen, Crawford found himself dropped. He accompanied the team to the tournament as a spectator but did not participate as a player.

Later years

Crawford later served as a selector for the Ireland team that won the Grand Slam in 1948, and was president of the Irish Rugby Football Union for the 1957-58 season.[6] He also served as president of Skerries Rugby Club.[7]


  1. "William Crawford | Rugby Union | Players and Officials | ESPN Scrum". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  2. "Captains | Lansdowne Rugby Club | Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  3. "Ernie Crawford". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  4. William Crawford. "Ireland Players : Searchable : Irish Rugby | Official Website". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  5. "1924 Olympic Report" (PDF). p. 324. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  6. "Ernie Crawford". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  7. Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

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