Yorkshire cricket is mourning the loss of one of the county club’s leading figures over many years with the death in York District Hospital on Sunday, December 2, of Michael Crawford, pictured above, at the age of 92.
Michael, who was born at Moortown Corner on July 30, 1920, lived at Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby, and was a former Chairman and Treasurer of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. A well-organised batsman, he played for Yorkshire Second XI from 1947 to 1953, captained them in 1951 and was joint-captain with Ronnie Burnet in 1952.
One of his proudest moments was when he was called up to captain Yorkshire for one Championship match in Norman Yardley’s absence in 1951, scoring nine and 13 in a thrilling encounter with Worcestershire at Scarborough, which the visitors won by eight runs.
When I interviewed Michael a couple of years ago for my recently published book, The Sweetest Rose, he revealed that he had been invited to captain Yorkshire on a permanent basis in 1958, but turned the job down because of his business commitments. The captaincy was then accepted by Burnet, and Yorkshire triumphed under his command the following season.
Michael captained Leeds CC for 14 seasons from 1949 to 1962, leading them to their first Yorkshire League title win in 1958 and their third Yorkshire Council Championship that year.
In 1963 he took over as Yorkshire Treasurer from A. Wyndham-Heselton, who had held the post for 30 years, and he gave continuous service until 1980, when he became Club Chairman for the next three years and chairman of the Cricket Management Committee.
A member of Yorkshire’s General Committee from 1954 to 1983, he was a trustee of the Club from 1963-1985, elected a vice-president in 1979 and made an honorary life member in 2003.
His reign as Club Chairman came to a sad end as a direct result of the Club’s decision following the 1983 season to sack Geoffrey Boycott. The consequence of this action was the calling of a special general meeting of the Club in January 1984, at which a vote of no confidence in the General Committee succeeded and Boycott was reinstated. Michael decided to stand down as Chairman, and President Norman Yardley also declined to continue.
Educated at Shrewsbury School and Magdalene College, Cambridge, Michael was an outstanding amateur soccer player, obtaining a Blue and scoring a goal against Oxford University in 1946-1947. He played in the university side with Trevor Bailey and Doug Insole.
In 1939 he left Cambridge to spend the next five years in the Army, serving in the Middle East and Italy as a captain in the Royal Artillery and being Mentioned in Despatches. He returned to Cambridge in 1946 – and scored all four goals in Cambridge Town’s 4-4 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. His soccer career also included spells with Corinthian Casuals and Old Salopians.
Another sport at which Michael excelled – and played until his recent illness – was golf: he was president of Alwoodley Golf Club, which was formed in 1907 by two great figures from Yorkshire’s past – Lord Hawke and the Hon. F S Jackson. Michael was a chartered accountant who retired at 60 and ran a property and investment company from 1980 to 1995.
Yorkshire CCC Board Director and former Club President and Chairman Robin Smith said last night: “I have known Michael Crawford for many years. Frst and foremost he was a real gentleman, an urbane and friendly person of unquestioned integrity.
“He was a really decent man, and widely respected by everyone. All who came into contact with him would come away with a very warm impression of him. He was the sort of stalwart personality that so many institutions need, and among them Yorkshire CCC, Romany Cricket Club and Alwoodley Golf Club will have been saddened to learn of his death.”
Michael’s widow, Hazel, was formerly Miss Hazel Cameron, a cousin of former South Africa wicket-keeper Jock Cameron, who once hit Hedley Verity for so many runs in an over at Sheffield that wicket-keeper Arthur Wood, shouted to Verity: “You’ve got him in two minds, Hedley – he doesn’t know whether to hit you for four or six!”
Michael and Hazel had a daughter and two sons. The cremation will be private, but a Service of Thanksgiving will take place at All Saints Church, Kirk Deighton, at 2pm on January 7, 2013. All are welcome.