Frederica ‘Fred’ Crawford is still sprightly and playing Rounders in St Helens at 73 years of age. She started playing in 1976 and became so involved with the sport, it affected her entire family.
Fred was coerced into playing Rounders by a former colleague who had been instructed to enter a team into the newly formed 2nd division of the St Helens league. Fred made her debut with her eldest daughter, then 13, and they are still playing together.
Throughout Fred’s life, she has played Rounders resolutely. At varying stages she encouraged her three daughters to get involved and can recall that all four of them played at the same National Rounders Association (NRA) ladies rep tournament. One of her daughters has developed the same life-long passion for Rounders, and even played in the England Under 21 Squad in the early 80’s.
Over the duration of Fred’s time playing Rounders she has also contributed to the national growth of the game, becoming a National Umpire in the 1980’s and, later, a Tester and a Coach. She also sat on the NRA’s Executive Committee between 1994-2005, taking on the responsibility of organising national tournaments. She was also appointed Vice President of the NRA in the 1990’s.
Once Fred started playing Rounders, her commitment was unwavering whatever challenges she faced. When she started playing, she was working full time and, at that time, matches started at 6.30pm in the evening. She relied on public transport to get her home for 5.30pm. Had a quick bite to eat with her children and headed straight out again. Later on, as she learned to drive, distance became less of an issue and in her latter years she has lived closer to the playing ground and, of course, doesn’t have young children to consider.
Little did Fred know, in 1976, that playing Rounders would become a lifelong passion. In 2002 she left Spartans and formed a new team – Crusaders, taking them to the 2nd division cup-final in 2004. She can recall the league chairman’s announcement at that years presentation ” in the history of the league, Fred was the first 62 year old to do so”.
Fred has seen the game evolve; through the introduction of half rounders for reaching 2nd post and, earlier, the penalty half rounder being awarded after two consecutive no-balls and the removal of the rule which allowed the fielder to touch the runner with the ball when between posts, or even before they left the batting square. Other minor changes have enhanced the health & safety aspects of the game, such as the drawing of lines between posts and the backstop’s line, to make it easier for umpires to make decisions.
As the game has changed and evolved, Fred has played on. The fact that the game can be played vigorously, or not, demonstrates that people can return to it in their later years. Fred is still playing, just once a week in a shorter season, but she’s still leading the way in St Helens, encouraging all ages to continue their fitness journey.