Thirty years later, Gav is still fight­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S - Tobi Lof­tus tobi.lof­tus@cnbtimes.com.au

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.

PHOTO: KATHER­INE KOKKONEN

IN WRIT­ING: Gavin Ford is work­ing on a book about his life.

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