Gary Bumford joined the Wolverines as a Rookie in 1987. It quickly became apparent that he had massive willpower and a desire to learn. Starting off as a Cornerback, he became renowned for his speed and devastating hits in the secondary. Later in our first season, he became the first of many Wolverines to be selected into the Great Britain Team, acquiring representative honours in the defeat of the Australian Kookaburra’s.
His dedication to self-improvement meant he was becoming physically bigger, and eventually moved up to join the Line backing corps, a position to which he was perfectly suited. In between doubling up as a Running back, returning punts and kick-offs, he was now terrorising Offences all over the Country. His 1993 mark of 15 sacks in a season won the title by some margin and still ranks joint 4th all time. Such was his strength and will to win, we became accustomed to hearing the Head Coach from across pitch yelling at his players “ come online, you gotta block 28, he’s killing us “
Away from the field, he decided to become a part of the decision-making process and joined the committee. He was a dedicated fundraiser and brought sponsorship into the Team every season he was involved. He actively pursued better venues for the Team and was an ambassador in getting the Oregon All-Star games of the nineties an established annual event.
At the end of his footballing career, he decided to try his hand at Rugby League and quickly had coaches marvelling at his hitting prowess and technique, not exactly textbook, but very effective. He won Player of the Year in his first season in the new code as a winger.
Ever in search for new excitement, he moved on to his love of Motorcycles… Fast ones. He decided to sell his road bike and, along with his Brother, try his hand at Racing, deemed as the safer option and the one which would make his license last longer. I remember him telling me about questioning that decision whilst at Donnington Park and bouncing down the formidable Craner Curves at 140 mph on his backside !!
He has always brought commitment and dedication to everything he has done. Not one to “talk the talk “ his style of the play spoke volumes. I enjoyed watching him lay out opponents and always felt a twinge of sympathy. Not for the player, but because we knew what it felt like because he had been hitting us just as hard the previous week in practice. Probably the most intense player I ever played alongside, I once asked him why he was so hard on teammates and opposition alike. He said, “I set myself high standards, and if everyone else can’t live up to that then tough $#*@, I won’t be found wanting. I say what I think, and I think what I like, deal with it “.
It is this single-mindedness that made him one of the greatest players ever to play for the Wolverines and made it inevitable that one day he would become a Wolverines Hall of Famer.
Linebacker #28, Gary Bumford.