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Billy Crone

A defender renowned throughout the Home Nations during the 1880s, Billy Crone won a host of honours, and for a time, was Ireland's most capped player...

Name: William Crone
Born: 31 August 1863, Belfast
Died: 8 November 1944, Belfast
Position: Back/Centre-Half

Representative Honours: Ireland: 12 Full Caps / 1 Goal (1882-1890); Ulster Representative; Co. Antrim Representative.
Club Honours: (with Distillery) Irish Cup Winner 1883/84, 1884/85, 1885/86, 1888/89, Runner-Up 1887/88; Belfast Charities Cup Runner-Up 1883/84, 1888/89, 1891/92, 1892/93; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1888/89, Runner-Up 1889/90.

Club Career:
FA Cup
* pre-Irish League.

A one-club man who was a stalwart defender for Distillery and Ireland through the 1880s, Billy Crone could play anywhere across the back-line, but was most familiar as a left-back or left-half. During sixteen seasons as a Distillery player he picked up four Irish Cup winner’s medals and one in the Co. Antrim Shield, but finished on the losing side in four Belfast Charities Cup final appearances.

A multi-talented sportsman in the old Distillery club spirit, Crone was also a “fair” cricketer and prize winning runner over half-mile and mile distances. On the football field he was “dashing, and though forcible, he was always considered a fair and honest player”.

Still a teenager when awarded his first international cap as a replacement when David Rattray was unable to travel, Crone remained an Ireland regular for eight seasons. His twelfth and final cap was a record, until surpassed by Distillery teammate Olphie Stanfield. On a number of occasions he was joined by younger brother, and Distillery teammate, Bob in the international eleven. Crone also had the honour of representing Antrim at County level and Ulster in Inter-Provincial games. He gained many Irish Cup medals with Distillery, plus one County Antrim success, however a Charity Cup winner’s medal eluded him on no less than four occasions.

On hanging up his boots in the 1893, Crone became Distillery’s trainer, a post he held for fifteen seasons. In February 1897 he was the first coach to be appointed by the Irish FA’s international selection committee, leading Ireland in a 6-0 defeat by England in Nottingham.

Ireland Cap Details:
25/02/1882 Wales... A L 1- 7 FR
26/01/1884 Scotland H L 0- 5 BC
09/02/1884 Wales... A L 0- 6 BC
23/02/1884 England. H L 1- 8 BC
27/02/1886 Wales... A L 0- 5 BC
13/03/1886 England. H L 1- 6 BC
20/03/1886 Scotland H L 2- 7 BC
05/02/1887 England. A L 0- 7 BC
03/03/1888 Wales... A L 0-11 BC
07/04/1888 England. H L 1- 5 BC 1 Goal
09/03/1889 Scotland A L 0- 7 BC
08/02/1890 Wales... A L 2- 5 BC

Summary: 12/1. Won: 0, Drew 0, Lost 12.

Additions by George Glass.