Cardiff RFC will tonight induct former winger and record try scorer Steve Ford into the Hall of Fame at a dinner hosted by Carolyn Hitt in The Exchange Hotel.
It follows a career that saw Ford play 234 times for the Blue and Blacks between 1984 and 1998, but come close to only making a fraction of those appearances after being banned for life in 1986.
Cardiff born and bred, Fordy attended Rumney High School and would play for local team Rumney RFC, before making his Cardiff RFC debut towards the end of the 1984/85 season against South Wales Police.
The next season would be the controversial one as Ford headed ‘up North’ for a trial with Leeds Rugby League, playing in two matches before returning to Cardiff, where the Welsh Rugby Union banned him sine die.
Two years later, and with the help of Rumney RFC’s Dave Escott, the lifetime ban was lifted as the WRU could not prove Ford had not been paid anything other than expenses.
When asked in a WalesOnline interview this year if he had been paid, Fordy admitted, “Of course I did! They can’t really ban me again now, can they? I’m 53.”
Returning to Cardiff RFC action in try scoring fashion against Aberavon at the start of the 1988/89 season, he would not look back, playing at least 20 times in eight of the next 10 campaigns, and scoring at least 15 tries in each of the next nine seasons.
1994/95 was a particularly prolific year, with Ford crossing the whitewash 39 times in 29 games, including five-try hauls against Cambridge University and Pontypool, before in early 1997 another five-try haul, this time against Dinas Powys, saw him break Bleddyn Williams’ club record for tries scored.
Although he did win eight caps for Wales, Ford noted that “I felt more at home playing for Cardiff. I never felt settled with Wales. It was a totally different environment. At Cardiff I was playing well, I was around my friends.
“I am really proud that I played for Wales, but I felt a little bit out of my comfort zone there. I was happier and more settled in the club environment.”
A fan favourite throughout his time as a Blue and Black, Fordy now becomes the 22nd player to be inducted into the Cardiff RFC Hall of Fame, alongside the likes of Dr Jack Matthews, Gareth Edwards, Gwyn Nicholls, and the man who’s try scoring record he broke, Bleddyn Williams.
I shall leave the last word to Fordy, in that WalesOnline interview, speaking about the Arms Park.
“There’s just something about this place every single time I walk in here. I walked past the pitch on my way in and it just brings back so many good memories. It was just a special place to play rugby and being a Cardiff lad made it that bit more special again.
“It was a great team to play in as well. I was just a carpet fitter from Llanrumney. You had solicitors, doctors, all walks of life, guys from the valleys. There were all different types of characters.
“But when you got all these people together it didn’t make any difference whether you were a carpet fitter or a Cambridge blue, as long as you could play rugby. We were all equal. It didn’t matter where you came from or what you were.
“That’s what made those eight or nine years really special.
“Every game day was special. It was like Christmas morning every Saturday, especially the home games.”