It is with great sadness that the club has to announce the death of Bill Cragg. Bill was involved with the club from the early 1950s and was a pivotal figure. He was the last surviving former trustee of the club. Together with Bill Furnival, Derek Sewell, and Jim Flower, he was responsible for the club putting itself in the position to purchase the ground at Kinney’s Field. Because the club was merely an association of rugby players, at the time when we bought the old ground and subsequently took an option to purchase the new ground, there had to be trustees to hold the land on behalf of the club members. Together with the benefit of owning property there came potential financial liabilities in the shape of guarantees. All four were prepared to shoulder those responsibilities, to ensure the club had a sound basis; without them, what we have today would not have been possible.
Bill moved to the Marsh to farm, in the late ‘40s and shortly afterwards joined the club. He was a rugby man through and through, with strong connections with Northampton R.F.C.. When the Ashford celebrated the move to the old ground Bill used that connection to ensure some great international and first-class club players played in the celebration match, including, Ron Jacobs, Dickie Jeeps and many others; they can be seen in the photographs from that match on the wall in the clubhouse.
Bill served in various capacities within the club and was particularly delighted to be elected our president. He maintained his involvement for many years, until ill-health prevented his attendance at matches. Despite that ill-health, he stayed in contact, keen to know how we were doing, until about two years ago.
It’s difficult adequately to pay tribute to such a man, but without him and the other trustees, Ashford would not have the fine facilities we have and would not be the club it is. He was ever modest about his substantial contribution and commitment, but I hope, privately at least, he took some pride in what he had achieved for our club.
I make no apology for using the following over-worked, statement, because in his case it is entirely apt – with his death, we have seen the end of an era.
His legacy remains obvious to everyone in the club, and long will it be so.