Published by Times & Transcript by Neil Hodge - May 17, 2018 -
Moncton Mustangs running back Mark Crandall raised some eyebrows when he decided to make a comeback and play in the Maritime Football League this season.
"People came up to me and said `Mark, you're married with three kids and you have a full-time job," he said. "What are you doing playing tackle football at 44 years old? Are you nuts?' You've got to keep pushing yourself and keeping testing yourself. I feel that right now I'm in the best shape of my life.
"I get a lot of grandfather jokes. When I scored a touchdown one of the guys looked down at me and said `Way to go, old man.' It's hard to argue with them when I have this much white in the beard. Bill Pickrell and Terry McIntyre, two league officials, came up to me and said `This is senior football, not senior's football.'"
Moncton, the defending champion, sits atop the league at 2-0. The Saint John Wanderers and Halifax Harbour Hawks are both 1-1 and the Prince Edward Island Mariners are 0-2.
Moncton and P.E.I. will clash on Saturday in Charlottetown. Saint John will visit Halifax on Saturday.
Crandall, five-foot-seven and 225 pounds, is a respected veteran leader on Moncton's team and he's playing for the first time since 2011. He's the oldest player in the league and in the last game he had nine carries for 60 yards and one touchdown in a 35-13 win over Halifax.
"I've been living in the gym for the past four years at Maritime Crossfit," he said. "I worked out with a lot of the guys in the off-season. I finished first or second in strength testing. I felt I could still play and decided to come back. I've always been involved with the Mustangs in one way or another.
"I'm 14 years older than the second oldest guy on the team. It's a lot of fun for me this season working with the younger guys. I coached 50 per cent of the players on this team and six of our eight coaches. It's fun now to be coached by the guys who I once coached."
Crandall helped found the Mustangs in 2001 and he played for them in their glory days when they won four consecutive Maritime Bowls. He has a secondary role on the team now. As for his full-time job, he's a territory manager for Saeplast Americas Inc. which is a company that sells tubs and bins to seafood processors.
"We have a great starting running back in Aubrey Ellis and the young kid Ethan Forest is a nice up-and- coming player," he said. "I do whatever I can to fit in and help out. There's a lot of guys who work out at the gym with me. I put them through the paces. I'll probably retire for good after this season."
Any chance Crandall will play next season?
"Well, let's get through this season first," he said with a laugh. "I'll take it one game at a time and see what happens."