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Trevor Ford

 

Trevor Ford was in Swansea in 1923.  His father encouraged his enthusiasm for football, giving him a new ball and boots on every birthday and forcing him to use his weaker left foot by making him practise with a plimsoll, no protection against heavy leather balls, on his right. At the age of ten and a half he was the youngest player to have been chosen for Swansea schools, and he retained his place for four years. He was deprived of a Wales schools football cap by a broken ankle, but he was capped as a cricketer.

After leaving school Ford worked at Mannesman steel works, Landore, before joining Swansea Town's ground staff in 1942. Conscripted in 1943, he served as a physical training instructor in the Royal Artillery. Propitiously, his army unit converted him from full-back to centre forward, in which position he played as a guest for Clapton Orient.
Ford rejoined Swansea Town after the war, and was spectacularly successful in the transitional 1945–6 season, his forty-one goals leading the scorers in league south, which was formed from teams who played in the top two peacetime divisions. He also played for Wales against Northern Ireland.

Ford was the archetypal British centre forward, proudly proclaiming football ‘a man's game’, and always ready to shoulder-charge a goalkeeper or enter physical conflict with a centre-half, although at 5 feet 10 inches and just over 12 stone he generally conceded height and weight.

Idolized by his own club's fans, he was a villain to those of opponents. The England centre-half Billy Wright declared him ‘amongst the cleanest and most sporting men I have ever played against’  but the goalkeeper Gilbert Merrick accused him of deliberately mistreating keepers—a claim retracted after Ford took him to court.

He left Swansea for first division Aston Villa in January 1947, following a disagreement over preparations for a cup tie. The leading scorer in all three seasons with Villa, in October 1950 he left for Sunderland, for a then record fee of £30,000. An offer of a motor trade job worth £1000 per year plus a house was decisive in his choice of Sunderland, then known as the ‘Bank of England club’ for its expensive transfer dealings. 

Ford's home début against Sheffield Wednesday was rumbustious even by his standards. He scored a hat-trick, broke the opposing centre-half's jaw, charged the Wednesday goalkeeper into the net, and broke a goalpost. His stay at Sunderland produced sixty-seven goals in 108 league games, and a cup replay winner scored with a broken ankle. He is, however, remembered for falling out so badly with the England inside-forward Len Shackleton that it became impossible to play them in the same team.

In March 1957, Ford left Cardiff City—which he had joined in November 1953 for another £30,000 fee—for the Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. He spent three years in the Netherlands before returning to Britain for brief spells with Newport County and Romford. His final peacetime football league tally was 175 goals in 349 games.

He died at the Singleton Hospital, Swansea, from pneumonia on 29 May 2003.