Thirty years later, Gav is still fighting
JULY 20, 1986 was the day everything changed for Mundubbera Red Terrors captain Gavin Ford.
“The (rugby league) game was in Eidsvold,” Mr Ford said.
“I was tackled, not a spear tackle, just a simple tackle and I went down.
“I went down really quick, I fell really fast.
“I lay prone on the ground and I couldn't really feel anything, I couldn't move arms or legs.
“I didn’t really know how serious it was at the time.”
Gavin began playing rugby league in 1969 and football soon took over his life.
He played for the representative team and had the bragging rights to say he got in over Mal Meninga.
Mr Ford also had a strong passion in other sports as well, including swimming, basketball, bull riding, water skiing and horse riding.
He left school in Year 10 to become a butcher’s apprentice.
That all changed after the tackle in 1986, which left him as a quadriplegic.
“I was taken to the Eidsvold Hospital, and then transported by road to the Monto Airport as the Princess Alexandra retrieval team couldn’t land at Eidsvold,” he said.
“I was in intensive care for two nights then in acute care in the spinal unit for a couple of weeks.
“Overall I was in hospital for 10 months.
“It was a complete lifestyle change and that weighed emotionally on family and friends.”
Mr Ford said while in hospital he was visited by some rugby league greats, including Wally Lewis and Wayne Bennett.
“It built up my confidence a bit,” he said.
Mr Ford said he never let his injuries trouble him.
“There were a lot more people worse off in the hospital when I was there that couldn’t even move any limbs.
“I was grateful that I had what I did have.”
Surprising to people who do not know Gavin, but unsurprising to those that do know him, he is still friends with the man who delivered the fateful tackle.
“I only see them when they come back to Eidsvold, as they live out of town,” he said.
“We catch up and have a chat and a beer when they’re back.
“I don't hold any grudges against anyone; you know I would have felt bad if I tackled someone too.
“It was an accident and accidents can happen in any aspects of life, not only in rugby league.”
He also remains heavily involved in local rugby league.
“It’s great to see the young kids have something to do in the rusty towns and be guided by someone older in that environment,” he said.
Mr Ford said he was now writing a book about his life.
“It’s getting there; it's hard trying to think back almost 30 years ago,” he said.
“Keeping busy, that's important... being in a work environment where I've got to be here each day rather than sitting at home doing nothing.”
“I hope that I can inspire some other people who have had some similar accidents.
“Hopefully I can be that sort of person that people can look up to.”
On top of the book, Mr Ford still runs Gavin Ford Mobiles which will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary selling phones and insurance.
Gavin Ford Hopefully I can be that sort of person that people can look up to.
IN WRITING: Gavin Ford is working on a book about his life.