A Profile Of Doug Cranwell by Neal Manning From The Green Un – 15th November 2003
To serve one club for 60 years, in one capacity or other, is a tremendous achievement by any stretch of the imagination, but Doug Cranwell has been doing just that with Ely City.
Now 76, Doug has lived for the past 45 years at March, 19 miles away, but he has never deserted the club he first became associated with as a 16-year-old. And, during the very long period that he has supported the club, Doug has not missed many games.
“When I was working I used to religiously plan my holidays so as not to miss any football,” said Doug as we chatted recently while watching his beloved Ely play Felixstowe & Walton United in a Ridgeons League Division One game at Dellwood Avenue. “Nowadays, I don’t like driving at nights, but there are a number of people willing to give me a lift. When my wife Phoebe died eight years ago, it’s been football and bowls ever since. Phoebe was a real football widow although for a number of years she helped out with the teas.” It wasn’t until Phoebe passed away that Doug took up bowls, and he still plays county outdoor bowls for Cambridgeshire. Born in Ely in 1927, Doug is following very much in the footsteps of the late Doug Unwin after whom the main stand at Ely’s ground has been named. “He was ‘Mr Ely City’, and now I’ve just about caught him upfor the number of years watching the club”, said Doug.
Doug Unwin died four years ago and up until his death, Doug Cranwell used to take him everywhere to watch the Cambridgeshire club. Both the Dougs’ dedication to Ely were recognised in 1995 when they were presented with long service awards for 50 years by the Cambridgeshire FA. Such is Doug’s devotion to Ely that last season he had the opportunity to go to Twickenham to watch England play New Zealand at rugby. But Doug turned down the chance because it clashed with Ely’s visit to Clacton Town in a Premier Division match. After just five minutes, however, the match was abandoned because the ground was unfit, and besides missing out on the rugby, Doug had to make the long trip back to Essex in midweek later in the season.
It was the influence of his late father Martin that really enabled Doug to become involved with the club. Martin was secretary at Ely City during the 1920’s but died in 1931 at the age of 37. “That’s how I came into football,” said Doug. “I always played rugby at Soham Grammar School and for Ely. “The rugby pitch was just across the way from where Ely City played in those days, and sometimes I was able to play rugby first and then go across to the neighbouring pitch and play football. I played football for the youth team and the A side and one or two games for the reserves, but by the time I was 32 I packed up playing and became more involved with administration.” And it was at that time when the real work started for Doug. “At the age of 16 I became minutes secretary, and then I did most jobs at the club before becoming chairman in the 1960’s. After nine years as chairman, I became vive-chairman, but I handed over five years ago when it started to become a bit too much for me. Now I’m a life vice-president.”
Doug, however, is still actively involved although not in the way he used to be. He’s on the management committee, attends all midweek meetings and is on the gate for home matches. Doug’s commitment and dedication to Ely is perhaps best summed up by this quote. “I’ve always said that if Arsenal were playing in the next field to Ely at the same time, I’d always watch Ely.”