The emergence of Jon Ford as a credible first team player demonstrates Birmingham & Solihull’s policy of recruiting motivated youngsters in preference to more recognised veterans is paying dividends.
The 23-year-old has featured in the last four match squads and, after making his National One debut as a replacement against Tynedale, he marked his first start with a victory over Macclesfield earlier this month.
Inside centre Ford, who works as a maintenance man, teamed up with teacher Alex White in the midfield and gave a sound demonstration of the basic skills required for his position.
So sound in fact that after the 21-17 win director of rugby Russell Earnshaw described Ford as a ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of player’, and paid tribute to the hunger of the former Camp Hill man and those like him who are making a step up into semi-professional rugby.
Their goal is the same, nudge aside the colleagues who have been on the rugby circuit for many years and make a name for themselves – certainly that is Ford’s intention.
“I just want to establish myself in the team and try and improve myself as a player,” the former Moseley and Stourbridge youngster said. “It’s been quite difficult trying to break through established players but hopefully I am doing that now.
“I have felt comfortable in the games I have played. I basically do what I can do well, tackle hard and carry well. The speed of the game is much faster but the people around me are much better too, so that is helping me to adapt.”
Earnshaw discovered Ford playing for Greater Birmingham, at the end of a good season for the Bournville-raised threequarter, in which he had played well for Camp Hill after spending a gap year in New Zealand.
However, the player-coach took some time before he arrived at Ford’s door, having earlier in the season preferred Rob Connolly, Greg Evans and White in the crucial No.12 shirt. But defensive shortcomings meant the turnstile revolved rather too frequently and Ford was brought in to add cement to the wall.
There was plenty of that against Macclesfield, rather less at Coventry and not sufficient in the second half against Fylde last Saturday. “The passion and desire is there it’s just crucial mistakes that are hurting us,” Ford admitted.
“Against Fylde there were a couple of missed tackles and they converted those chances really well. We need to be a bit more clinical, use our cutting edge because that’s what Fylde did – they showed that killer instinct. I think we have got the team to do that but I don’t want to be saying that all season.”