Sodbury footballer’s life remembered

October 31 2018

A member of Chipping Sodbury Football Club’s league winning team for the 1911/12 season has been commemorated in a service held at St John’s Church.

William Crane’s footballing career spanned 19 seasons and in that time he played in every position for Sodbury. He began playing for the side in the 1895/96 season and went on to captain the Sods, then known as Chipping Sodbury Rovers the following season when they were unbeaten.

The following year the team played league football for the first time in division one of the North Bristol and District league.  The team enjoyed further success in the years preceding the First World War becoming league champions of the Wotton and District Division Two in 1911/12 and 1912/13.

William was born in Pill in 1876 but moved to Sodbury in the 1890’s to live with his aunt Laura Truman. He was a Blacksmith by trade and lived in Rouncival Street. He married Emily Watkins at Old Sodbury Church in June 1902.

His footballing career ended when he enlisted in June 1915, joining the 10th Remounts Army Service Corps. The last recorded game William played in was on the 3rd January 1914 when he played as goalkeeper for Sodbury against Yate Rovers in a Bristol and District league division two match.

William died of pneumonia in Cremona, Italy aged 41 and is buried in the town cemetery there. 

To mark the centenary of his passing St John’s Church in Sodbury held an act of remembrance William’s grandson and other member of his family, as well as current representatives of the football club and members of the local community attended the service. The local bell ringers also marked the occasion at the end of the service and a remembrance poppy cross was laid on the town memorial. 

Chipping Sodbury Town FC’s vice president Jeff Harper said: “William served his country and his local community and it is only fitting that we pay tribute to him. He was clearly an influential and competitive member of the football club and it was an honour to be invited to attend his remembrance service.”