Tribute to a soccer magician

Tributes continue to pour in for former Square Hill FC stalwart Theodore “Toerels” Ford, 72, who passed away on Monday January 30, at Victoria Hospital, following a battle with cancer. A memorial service was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church hall, in Retreat, on Tuesday January 31, ahead of his funeral at Grassy Park’s Klip Road Cemetery, on Wednesday February 2.

Words cannot express his magic on the ball and the joy he brought to those that knew him as a player and as a person.

I’m shocked and saddened at the passing of a truly great homeboy soccer star-wizard and icon of our local football. I’m humbled to have played just once alongside “Toerels” in one of his tournament teams at “Spook se land” way, way back – what an honour to have played an assist to his cracker of a goal that he scored in that game.

That goal will always stay in my mind.

At South Peninsula FA’s Rooikrantz sports field he regularly created football magic in a Square Hill team brimming with star players such as Cyril Murrigan, “Puntjie”, Graham Lawrence, Sammy Ceto, Veary, goalkeeper Patrick Sepkins and other equally gifted players.

Even FA board teams that faced South Peninsula FA in those years will recall Toerels’ masterful wizardry with the soccer ball. Over the years, since his teenage days, his name and trickery with the soccer ball was legendary and on the lips of any soccer player or fan who loved or knew anything about the beautiful game. I also recall his stint with Glenville’s professional team and of course with Cosmos. I was glad that he stayed involved in the admin or playing side of the game over the years until forced out by illness.

Toerels remained involved with the game long after his playing days. In fact, he never really stopped playing, even played as recently as December. Over the years, he simply transcended into new roles, including coaching and mentoring.

In 2019, he led a Western Cape Walking Football team to a national title in Port Elizabeth.

In 1973, Beeld newspaper chose him as their top player, said his wife Felicity, who says she still has the original newspaper clipping.

Walking Football Southern Suburbs Manenberg chairperson, Allistair Le Guma, said their players, whose ages range from 50 to over 70 years, will miss Ford, who had a big impact on them.

“We’re going to miss him for his fun-loving attitude towards the game and how strong and knowledgeable he was about soccer. We’ll miss him as a stalwart of soccer and we appreciated his presence among us as a legend.”

Cape District Football Association (CDFA) soccer veteran, Michael Murphy, who later played walking soccer alongside Ford in their over 60s legend team that won the 2019 inter-provincial Walking Football tournament in Port Elizabeth, said: “Toerels was our captain. He was a really brilliant player you could watch even when you are playing with him.

“His brilliance rubbed off on you as a player and on those watching. I was fortunate to play alongside him.

“I liked his style and he was a good man on and off the field. So many footballers all over Cape Town attended his funeral and memorial service. We all loved him dearly and he loved us.”

Walking Football player Basil van Schalkwyk said Ford was his childhood idol.

“I was 9 years old when I first saw him play for Square Hill Football Club at Rooi-krantz.

“When he played he turned the soccer ball into a magic wand. He was a magician with the ball and made a fool of everyone.

“He was a brilliant soccer player and will always be an idol of mine. I was privileged to play against him when I became a senior player at Heath Athletic.

“The talent he had was above my ‘vuurmaak plek’, so brilliant was he.”

My heartfelt condolences go to the Ford families and friends.

Surely your fleet-footedness will continue to bedazzle the angels who’ll play against you in heaven, Toerels.

Rest in peace my brother.

• Raphael Wolf is a former Southern Mail reporter and writes in his personal capacity as a long-time friend of Theodore “Toerels” Ford.

Square Hill FC stalwart Theodore “Toerels” Ford led a Western Cape Walking Football team to a national title in Port Elizabeth, in 2019.