Paisley, Renfrewshire born right back Jimmy Crapnell was only 5 feet 5 inches tall, small for a defender, and began his club career with Cambuslang Rangers, moving to Airdrieonians in October 1926. The diminutive newcomer made his Scottish League debut on 20th November, 1926, as Airdrie drew 2-2 with St. Mirren at Broomfield Park. From then, he was not marked “absent” from a first-team fixture until 26th October, 1929, and he only missed out that day as he was Scotland’s travelling reserve for the international against Wales in Cardiff. That amazing run set a new club record for consecutive appearances (132), which was not surpassed for almost 40 years. Crapnell scored just one goal for The Diamonds, that from a penalty kick in November, 1931, when he was skipper of the side. He captained the team for four straight seasons between 1929 and 1933.
He had a “reputation for tenacity” and won most of his international honours with Airdrieonians, being awarded nine Scotland caps between April 1929 and his final appearance for Scotland which came in a 4-0 win over Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast, in September 1932, when he was Scotland’s captain. His debut international, against England at Hampden Park in the April 1929 encounter in front of 110,000 spectators, when Alex Cheyne’s corner kick goal gave birth to “the Hampden swirl”, brought this high praise from “Waverley” in the Daily Record: “Crapnell was the boss; the Airdrieonian was a little General.”
Crapnell captained Scotland in four of those appearances, being first made captain in a 2-0 win over France in Colombes in May 1930. He is the most capped player in Airdrie history. Crapnell also represented The Scottish League five times between October 1929 and November 1932, he also shares the highest number of Scottish League appearances while an Airdrie player with Jimmy Reid.
Motherwell signed Crapnell from Airdrie in January 1933 for a fee of £2,000 and he helped Motherwell reach the 1933 Scottish Cup Final, but they lost 1-0 to Celtic. He retired in 1934 to try a career in insurance after 37 appearances for The Steelmen. After a brief comeback in the Motherwell reserve team, he again retired. Crapnell then became a football manager after the Second World War, being in charge of Alloa Athletic and then St Johnstone.