Galston, Ayrshire born outside right or wing half Gavin Crawford started his football career with Scottish junior clubs Ash Lea in 1888 and Fairfield Rangers in 1889 where he won the Scottish Junior Cup before joining Sheffield United in 1890 in their pre League era, at the time they were playing in the Midland Counties League, playing 8 competitive fixtures for The Blades. He moved to Woolwich Arsenal (then known as Royal Arsenal) in summer 1891 becoming their first professional player and enjoyed a hugely successful seven year career with The Gunners. Crawford made a goalscoring Football League debut against Walsall Town Swifts in September 1893 – Arsenal’s first season as a League club. He appeared regularly in his first four seasons at The Manor Ground and became club captain after the tragic death of Joe Powell in 1896. Crawford scored 17 times in 138 professional starts for Arsenal after playing 83 times for Royal Arsenal, hitting 49 goals in Arsenal’s pre-League days.
Injury would ruin his 1897-98 season – and ultimately end his spell in the first team. By this point Crawford had made the transition to wing half and he joined Southern League Millwall Athletic in summer 1898. He later played for Queen’s Park Rangers in 1899 where he made up a quartet of ex-Arsenal players including Adam Haywood, Alex McConnell and William White, and after scoring once in 24 appearances for Rangers he retired in 1900.
After retirement he became the groundsman at Charlton Athletic, a position he held up until his 80th birthday in 1947. Crawford was one of the longest surviving members of Arsenal’s first professional side, along with Bill Julian and Jack McBean. The three were reunited at an Arsenal game against Chelsea on 20th March 1948 (by which time Arsenal were one of the leading sides in English football), an event recorded in The Official Illustrated History of Arsenal.