Tributes to 'a proper clubman' and an Ely City FC saviour

Ex-Ely City player manager dies

Roger Crane captained and managed Ely City during the 1970s and 1980s, and was known for his no-nonsense approach. - Credit: Ely City FC

The son of an Ely City FC stalwart has paid tribute to a “proper clubman” following his death at the age of 70. 

Roger Crane spent around 11 seasons at City as player and manager since he first joined the club in 1976. 

As well as scoring in every competition Ely played in during the 1977-78 campaign, Crane may be better known for his efforts in keeping the team in the Eastern Counties League during the 1980s. 

Roger died last month following a short battle with Covid-19. 

“I would say he had a massive impact on Ely City. He is highly respected at the club and in the local football world,” Chris Crane, Roger’s son, said. 

Born in Friday Bridge near Wisbech, Crane moved to Cambridge as a child, played for the combined English universities football team and was also a keen cricketer. 

Roger Crane Ely City

Roger during his playing days for Ely City FC. - Credit: Supplied/Family

Before moving to Ely, the ex-businessman started his footballing career at Purbeck Rangers and made over 150 appearances for Cambridge City. 

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Following a three-year spell at Ely’s former Paradise Ground home, Crane resigned as boss due to work commitments but later returned midway through the 1983-84 season to keep his team up. 

“He used to get involved with the youth team and the reserves, the whole club,” Chris said.  

“I think at Ely, he’d be known for standing up and being strong.” 

Crane, who made his final appearance for the Robins in the 1990-91 season, was known for his no-nonsense approach and was perhaps, to some ,as the ‘kingpin’ in the Ely defence. 

A statement on the Ely City FC website read: “To keep a struggling team with little or no resources out of the re-election season for three consecutive seasons was a significant achievement. 

“The club would like to extend its sympathies to Roger’s family at this very sad time.” 

Chris said that his father was a major influence on his life and can also act as a role model to City footballers of the future. 

“He was a no-nonsense centre-half and good in the air,” he said. 

“A few days before he went into hospital, I was talking to him on the phone. I mentioned I had been playing football with Henry and he said ‘make sure you get him kicking with both feet’ as it makes you a better player. 

“He was very honest, open and a good leader in whatever he did.”