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Daryn Hanright

Mick Crane

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Here is en excerpt from XIII Winters by Dave Hadfield. This piece was written by Trevor Gibbons in the book. Really is an excellent read


(typos may be here)


"...Of the four heroes, Mick Crane was the natural genius. He had the same gift with a rugby ball that George Best expressed with a soccer ball at his feet. That rugby ball seemed glued to Mick: just when it appeared he must drop it, he would come up with the pill, overstretching himself but always recovering the situation to leave you gasping. All of this was done with the cheekiest, most lop-sided grin you could see. Mick relished every minute. 

What would he have been like if he trained? It was always rumoured that the skills Mick showed on the field were as nothing to the excuses he could discover for him not to train; but who cared? We loved him, even if he would not have fitted into the 'my body is a temple' approach. 

Hull didn't actually have any Australians in the team, but Mick would fill in some of the missing gaps by (allegedly) going walkabout in the way of Aboriginal warriors. It was said he would disappear from the club for days on end, only to return mysteriously and pick up the threads as though nothing had happened. As with all true warriors, nobody asked him where he'd been and Mick, we can assume, volunteered no information. He let his talking be done out on the pitch, walking in for 19 tries that season, and none better than the one right between the posts in the Players final at Headingley, the great grin lighting up the day as he put the ball down (one-handed) over the line. Mick Crane's approach to Rugby League may well have brought shrugs from his coaches, but he played the game as though he was born to it..."


XIII Winters, XIII Worlds (2009), Dave Hadfield & Trevor Gibbons, pg 229-230


Buy it here

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Mick was indeed a Rugby League genius and one of the best I've ever seen, when combined with Steve Norton in the back row the Hull pack were almost unplayable. He played during an era when every team had magic footballers and mavericks obviously some were more magic than others but the game encouraged that type of play rather than actively seeking to eradicate it as it does today.

Sts had Pinner, Adams

Wakefield had Topliss, Agar,

Wigan had Ashurst

Widnes had Myler, Grima & Pyke

Cas had Joyner, Johnson

Hull had Crane, Norton, Crooks

HKR had Hall, Lowe, Smith & Hartley

Leeds had Holmes,

Etc you get the idea

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I've told it before but I feel I ought to add my own Mick Crane story. Not as funny as some but it's mine. Sometime in the early 70s I went on the train with my dad to see Hull at Salford (as a railwayman and true Yorkshireman the train was always his preferred option because it would cost next to nowt to get there, we even walked from Victoria to the Willows). It was a really tight game with only a few points in it when Mick received a peach of a pass that put him in a gap about 10-15 yards from the line. To our despair he dropped it and that was the end of our chances. The next week my dad went to Craven Park with his red and white mate to watch Rovers when conversation inevitably turned towards Hull's defeat. My dad was bemoaning the fact that we might have won if Craney hadn't dropped the ball over the line when he heard this indignant voice behind him exclaim 'I never dropped it ovver the larn'. Cue much mirth from the surrounding red and whites and my dad wanting the hole to swallow him up.

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I've purchased a copy of Sterlo. If any bits of information about Crane in there will share (all properly quoted & referenced of course!)


While googling around, I found an archived article from the "Hull Daily Mail" from 1983 that (again) describes him very well.


"Crane really smokin' as Hull lift cup. 

(From Hull Daily Mail) 
Mick Crane was the man of the match when Hull FC beat Castleford 13-2 in the Yorkshire Cup final of 1983 at Elland Road, Leeds. 

Crane picked up the White Rose Trophy for a performance in which he scored one try, had a hand in another and dropped a goal. 

The strange thing about Crane was the fact that he did it in such a laid-back, nonchalant way.     

To him, it seemed that rugby league was just a past-time. 

He loved the game but was renowned for not turning up at training and even at matches. 

It seemed he couldn't be bothered at the time, but when he did turn up he was brilliant, as in the Yorkshire Cup final on October 15, 1983. 

He had a special relationship with the fans. They loved his free-and-easy style and his Hull-born pride. He was one of them. 
In wet weather, most of Crane's first-half efforts were wasted by colleagues, but when he decided to go his own way in the 47th minute it was sheer brilliance. 

A little dummy, a big hand-off and he was gone, just like a puff of smoke that he used to love. 

His try put Hull 8-2 ahead but Crane was also involved in the build-up to the second try, scored by Wayne Proctor in the 68th minute and with four minutes remaining Crane added a drop goal from 30 yards that completed the scoring. 

Crane admitted the drop goal was simply "a time waster, as they are not really worth much these days." And straight after the match Crane was seen in the dressing room lighting up. 

This was a common sight. Crane did not fit your typical sporting hero. He said: "I smoke 30 a day and feel as fit as a fiddle. I am playing better now than I have done for a long while." Crane was in such a rich vein of form that he was preferred at loose-forward to the great Steve Norton. 

Nineteen-year-old Lee Crooks gave another sparkling performance as did 18-year-old Garry Schofield in only his sixth match. 
A year earlier he had been leading Hunslet Parkside to victory. 

Trying to inspire Castleford was Malcolm Reilly, a once truly great loose-forward but he was now a 35-year-old prop with a knee injury, and he made little impact. 

Castleford were the league leaders with only one defeat in eight matches, but Hull were the favourites to retain the county cup.

The crowd of 14,049 was the best at a Yorkshire Cup final for 15 years and GBP33,522 receipts were a record for the competition.

Castleford had a slight 12-11 advantage in the scrums and won the penalties 14-10. But Hull were seldom under pressure.

On one of their first incursions into the Castleford 25 Hull opened the scoring when Gary Kemble sent Dane O'Hara over in the corner after 18 minutes. 

The rain ruined many handling moves and the only other first-half score was a 34th-minute penalty goal by Castleford's Bob Beardmore to make it 4-2 to Hull at half-time. 

Castleford came close to a try but Tony Marchant's effort was ruled offside by referee Billy Thompson.

Near the interval Castleford's Gary Connell was sent to the sin-bin for tripping James Leuluai and after the break winger Dane O'Hara was also sent to the sin-bin for a foul on Marchant. 

While they were off, Crane moved in for his try. 

Then came Proctor's try and Crane's drop goal and Hull had retained the trophy. 

HULL; Kemble, Solal, Schofield, Leuluai, O'Hara, Topliss, Dean, Edmonds, Wileman, Skerrett, Procter, L. Crooks, Crane."

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Here is Peter Sterlings opinion of Mick Crane in his book...a continuation of a theme! haha


Sterlo! The Story of a Champion, pg 95


"...I was warmly welcomed at Hull, although I sensed a certain coolness from a fellow named Mick Crane. Mick and I later became pretty good mates. He is, I think, the greatest character I have ever met in football. You may remember his classy game for England at lock forward in the Third Test of the 1982 Kangaroo tour. Mick was something else. I remember following him out into the paddock the first day we played together. He was puffing on a cigarette, which he relunctantly left with a trainer on the sidelines. When a conversion was being taken Mick would amble across, re-light, and take a puff. He was a punter, and a mystery man, with a considerable joie de vivre.  At times he would simply disappear from football, then reappear at training when the money ran out. Mick could really play. His ball skills were something special..."

Sterlo! The Story of a Champion, pg 95

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