Former Wisbech Town footballer John Crosland, a decorated war hero and a professional player who played with Stanley Matthews, died suddenly on Saturday at home after a collapse.
Former Wisbech Town footballer John Crosland, a decorated war hero and a professional player who played with Stanley Matthews, died suddenly on Saturday at home after a collapse. He was aged 83.
Mr Crosland was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as a fighter pilot in the Second World War with the Fleet Air Arm. He saw service in the Pacific flying from HMS Formidable.
After the war, he became a professional footballer, playing as a left back for Blackpool in the FA Cup in 1948 against Manchester United.
One of his fellow players at Blackpool was Stanley Matthews who became a close friend.
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Years later, when Mr Crosland and his wife, Peggy opened a pub in Wisbech, it was Stanley Matthews who provided a reference for them to the licensing authorities.
Crosland also played for England on the summer tour of 1953-54.
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In 2003, Mr Crosland went to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the season that Blackpool won the cup.
Mrs Peggy Crosland said: "Only three of the team are still alive now - John was the fourth."
After playing for Blackpool, Crosland played for Bournemouth for three years, as captain from 1954-57, also captaining the third division South of England team for the annual Derby against the third division North of England.
In 1957 until 1960 he played for Wisbech Town. The couple moved to Wisbech and took over a pub, The Old George in The Market Square, running it until 1961.
Later, they ran a hotel and then a taxi business. Mrs Crosland said: "We lived a varied life but always together."
The couple, who celebrated their golden wedding in January, moved to Huntingdonshire.
Mrs Crosland said: “He had a colourful career and a wide circle of friends. He was a lovely man, he was well liked and respected.
“There will be nothing but praise for him and he will be sadly missed."
John Crosland leaves three daughters, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
His funeral will be at The Church of Michael the Archangel in Huntingdon at a date still to be fixed. The family has asked for family flowers only and donations, if wished, to The British Heart Foundation. The funeral is being conducted by William Peacock in Huntingdon.