59er Crossan still "so tied" to Norwich City
Posted on 5 May 2012 in Around the Soccer World
He has moved 7,500 kilometres and lived more than 50 years since, but Errol Crossan's football heart remains firmly planted in Norwich, England. Living in Langley, BC and now 81 years young, Crossan will be glued to the "tube" everytime the Canaries take to the pitch. Himself a former Norwich City FC winger, the Canadian Crossan still remembers his time at Carrow Row as the highlight of his football career.
Despite playing just a handful of years in England, Crossan is still fondly remembered by Norwich City and its fans. He is, after all, one of the '59ers, a group that caught the attention of a nation with its "giant killers" run in the 1958-59 FA Cup competition. Crossan was part of Norwich City's attack on the right side, forming the "Terrible Twins" attack duo with Terry Bly.
The "twins" scored all the goals in a 3:0 win over Manchester United on a snowy 10 January 1959, with Bly netting two and Crossan scoring the other against the famous "Busby Babes" in the third knock-out round. At the time a Division Three (South) team, Norwich City went on to knock off Cardiff City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United before losing to Luton Town in a semi-final replay at home.
"We were beating all the first division teams, but then we got put out by Luton in the replay," remembered Crossan. "They were the worst of all the teams we played."
Born in Montréal, he was eight years old when his family moved to the Isle of Man, then in his late teens when his family moved back to Montréal. By his early 20s, he was playing for the famous Westminster Royals in British Columbia, reaching (but losing) in the 1952 Dominion Cup final to Montréal Stelco and then winning it all in 1953 over Montréal Hakoah.
Crossan then moved to the "old country" and had spells with Manchester City (trial) and Gillingham before joining Norwich City for the 1958-59 campaign. In three years, he scored 32 goals in 116 appearances, including goals in the FA Cup run against Swindon, Manchester United, Cardiff City and Sheffield United. A year after the FA Cup run, Crossan and Co. helped Norwich City earn a promotion to the English second division.
"We gave Norwich City credibility (in English football)," said Crossan. "When we had that FA Cup run, it made such a difference for the club."
Crossan made his last appearance for Norwich City on 30 December 1960 at age 30, then played briefly for Leyton Orient before returning home to Canada. He played in 1961 for Toronto City, a super club that boasted stars like Danny Blanchflower, Jackie Mudie, Tommy Younger, Johnny Haynes, and the great Sir Stanley Matthews.
"My father thought Stanley Matthews was the greatest player of all time," said Crossan. "I was able to bring my dad on the bus once to meet him and Stanley was such a gentleman."
In 1962, Crossan moved out west, rejoining the Westminster Royals before switching to Vancouver Columbus. In 1964, he won a second Dominion Cup title, this time after a 4:0 win over the Sudbury Italian Flyers at Callister Park in Vancouver.
After hanging up his boots, Crossan took on a career with the Canadian Forest Products for more than 25 years. In 2000, he was honoured as part of the inaugural class by The Soccer Hall of Fame in Canada. In 2002, he was one of 100 players honoured by Norwich City FC as part of the club's centenary celebrations.
"I am still so tied to Norwich City," said Crossan. "They never forget you. You are still always welcomed with open arms."
Crossan has made Langley, BC his home since 1990. Despite suffering from Parkinson's Disease for about 10 years, he remains in good health thanks to his active lifestyle that persists to this day. Once recognized as the “fastest wide players Norwich City ever had," Crossan said he never stopped running and even now in his 80s gets on the indoor bike five times a week.
Come most Saturday mornings, however, he is planted firmly on the couch. As anyone who knows him can attest, Crossan doesn't want to be anywhere except in front of a television when his Norwich City FC takes to the pitch.