It was through the arrival of Bradford Northern’s former Welsh Rugby Union international Willie Davies to teach at Bingley Grammar School that Phil Crabtree first developed a strong interest in Rugby League. Phil was a pupil at the school and he became a committed supporter of the club as his teacher played a key role in its successful period just after the Second World War. Phil also developed a strong desire to become a player at Odsal during this period and first came close to joining the club when Dai Rees expressed an interest signing him as a 17 year old. But the call up for National Service put Phil’s chances of achieving his boyhood ambition on hold. Nevertheless, was able to maintain a link with the club throughout his time in the Armed Forces and play for the ‘A’ team when home on leave.
Despite also attracting interest from Warrington, Phil finally signed for Bradford after leaving the Armed Forces at the age of 21. He subsequently remained at the club for the next 13 years and enjoyed great camaraderie and many happy times with his fellow players and the clubs supporters. Unfortunately, however, his last days as a player at Bradford coincided with clubs decline and eventual demise in 1963. Although he had reached the end of his career by this time, Phil made himself available to the quickly formed Bradford Northern (1964) Ltd which resurrected professional Rugby League in the city. But, thanks to help from many clubs from across the Rugby Football League, the new organisation was able to sign sufficient players and Phil retired from the game with many happy memories.