Gary Blackford

*Indicates unconfirmed information. Figures in brackets after English team names indicate all appearances made and goals scored in competitive matches for Football League clubs from 1888 onwards. For Scottish League clubs the figures show details of all competitive appearances and goals scored from 1946/47 onwards.

Gary Blackford

Appearances: 64+10 Goals: 2

Date / Year of birth: 25th September 1968

Position: Right-back / Midfielder

Season of first appearance: 1999/00

Season of last appearance: 2001/02

Also played for: Chelsea (0), Hendon, Whyteleafe, College of Boca Raton (USA), Croydon, Fisher Athletic, Barnet (4+5,0), Redbridge Forest, Tottenham Hotspur (0), Dagenham & Redbridge, Enfield, Slough Town, Brisbane Strikers (Australia), Dulwich Hamlet and Croydon

Attacking full-back born in Redhill, Surrey who was on Chelsea's books as a youth before joining Hendon for the 1985/86 season. Gary made nine reserve team appearances for the Isthmian League outfit and then moved on to Whyteleafe at the end of 1985.

As a Whyteleafe player he was a member of the Surrey Youth squad that reached the semi-final of the FA Youth County Cup during 1986/87 and in 1988 Gary had a spell in Florida, USA where he played for College of Boca Raton.

In February 1989 he returned to England and joined Croydon where he scored twice in 11 appearances before the end of the 1988/89 campaign.

In the opening weeks of 1989/90 Gary moved to Conference club Fisher and he stayed there until a fee of 12,000 took him to Barnet during 1990/91.

He was part of the Bees side that won promotion to the Football League and during the early part of the 1991/92 season Gary made nine first team appearances (five as sub) for the league newcomers. In October 1991 Barnet loaned him to Redbridge Forest and Gary ended up spending the rest of the campaign there, scoring twice in 30 appearances. At the start of 1992 he had an extended trial at Spurs, spending six weeks training with the club and playing regularly for the reserves but a fee couldn't be agreed with Barnet.

In the summer of 1992 Gary's transfer to the newly renamed Dagenham & Redbridge was made permanent and he went on to make a total of 111 appearances and scored 19 goals before a four-figure fee saw him join Enfield in the summer of 1994.

Enfield won the Isthmian League championship during the 1994/95 season and Gary was an influential player for the club until July 1996 when he linked up with Slough.

He scored on his debut for Slough in a 4-1 home win over Stalybridge in the Conference on 17.8.96 and went on to add five more goals during 1996/97. Gary made 39 appearances during the campaign.

In October 1997 he had a trial with Australian club Brisbane Strikers and in November Gary was signed by the club. He went on to make 12 appearances without scoring there before returning to the UK to rejoin Dagenham & Redbridge in August 1998.

Gary made 37 Conference appearances for the Daggers during 1998/99 and scored twice before Margate paid 5,000 for his services in the summer of 1999.

He made his debut on the opening day of the 1999/00 season as Margate pulled off a surprise 3-1 win at Worcester. Gary wore the number two shirt and kept the right-back berth for the next 15 games too. The Thanet Times said he "sent in some good crosses" during a 3-0 win at Ramsgate in an FA Cup tie played on 18.9.99 and "tormented the home defence" with his surges forward in a 3-0 win at Taunton in the FA Cup on 2.10.99. Injury brought Gary's ever-present run to an end in November 1999 and he missed four matches before returning for a 0-0 draw with Merthyr at Hartsdown Park on 20.11.99. After that he featured in 12 of Margate's next 13 games and on 1.12.99 Gary scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against Dartford at Purfleet in the FA Trophy.

A calf injury ruled him out of three matches early in 2000 but Gary kept up his good form when he returned to the side and in its report on a 4-3 win at Merthyr on 11.3.00 the Thanet Times said he "kept the Welshmen pinned in their own half with a series of overlapping runs". A week later he played in a 1-1 home draw with Bath but after that Gary missed seven games altogether due to injury and a trip to Australia to attend his brother's wedding. He returned to make a substitute appearance in a 4-0 win at Gloucester on 29.4.00 but didn't feature in the last two matches of the campaign and ended the season having scored once in 37 appearances (two as sub). The Thanet Times said Gary had been an "excellent tackler" who "was always willing to provide an extra option in attack"

In the summer of 2000 he underwent a stomach operation but Gary recovered in time to wear the number two shirt in Margate's first three matches of the 2000/01 campaign. The Thanet Times said he "took every opportunity to act as an extra winger" in a 0-0 draw at Halesowen on 26.8.00 but Gary suffered a thigh injury in that game which put him out of action for around two months. He made a comeback in the reserves during October but Gary didn't play for the first team again until he made a substitute appearance in a 4-0 home win over Tonbridge on 14.11.00. The Isle of Thanet Gazette said he "did well on the right side of midfield" and set up Margate's third goal with what the paper said was "great skill on the wing". Gary's next appearance came when he lined up in midfield for a 1-0 defeat at Tamworth on 9.12.00 and it had been over three months since his last start. Shortly after the Tamworth game Gary was loaned to Dulwich for a month.

After returning to Hartsdown Park he gradually began to play more regularly and made his first appearance of the new year in midfield during a 1-0 defeat at Baldock on 23.1.01. Gary made his next start in a 1-0 win home win over Halesowen on 3.3.01 and the Thanet Times reported that he "found the pace of the game difficult at times but still created a number of chances with right-wing crosses". On 24.3.01 he replaced John Keister at half-time as Margate entertained Bath and the Thanet Times said he seemed "rejuvenated" as he helped the side to a 2-0 win. Manager Chris Kinnear told the paper "Gary did well, and he's another one who's never let us down". On 7.4.01 he scored in a 2-0 win over Ilkeston at Hartsdown Park and Kinnear told the Thanet Times "I thought Gary Blackford was brilliant today after being out of the side for a while". Gary then enjoyed a good run in midfield as Margate closed in on the Southern League Premier Division title and promotion to the Conference. He wore the number six shirt in eight of the last nine games of the season and finished up having made 20 appearances (five as sub) and scoring once.

Gary started the 2001/02 campaign as Margate's first-choice right-back and played in the club's first ever Conference match - a 1-0 win at Boston on 18.8.01. He kept his place for the next six games too but had to go off with a hamstring injury after 20 minutes of a 0-0 draw at Farnborough on 4.9.01. Gary missed Margate's next five matches altogether before coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat against Barnet at Hartsdown Park on 29.9.01. The Non-League Paper said he was "lively" as well "all over the pitch" and praised his "supply of dangerous passes" whilst the Thanet Times said it was a "welcome return". Gary returned to the starting line-up for the next four games and the Thanet Times said he was "in-form" and offered "good support" during a 3-0 win at Chester on 6.10.01. The Isle of Thanet Gazette then reported that Gary "put in some fine crosses" in a 2-1 win at Yeovil on 9.10.01 and the paper also noted "he seems to be back to his best" but Gary went off injured after 67 minutes. His run in the number two shirt ended when he picked up an ankle injury only eight minutes into a 1-1 home draw with Doncaster on 13.10.01. Gary limped off and ended up missing four matches before returning to the side for a 3-1 home win over Bromley in the Kent Senior Cup on 13.11.01. He then played at right-back in two of Margate's next three games but Gary was substituted after 34 minutes of a 1-1 draw with Boston at Hartsdown Park on 1.12.01 for tactical reasons. The Thanet Times said he was "replaced after failing to get into the game and looking beatable defensively" and youngster Steve Hafner replaced him.

Towards the end of 2001 Gary sustained a back injury and after recovering he only played for the reserves for the next few months. In February 2002 he was transfer-listed and at that time Chesham were said to be interested in signing him. Gary didn't feature in the first team again until coming on as a substitute in a 5-0 home win over Ashford in the Kent Senior Cup on 23.4.02. It'd been almost five months since his last senior appearance. After taking to the field Gary formed an impromptu partnership with Jay Saunders at the centre of Margate's defence and the Isle of Thanet Gazette said "both looked as if they had been playing there all season". The paper also noted that Gary "picked out a 60-yard (no exaggeration) cross-field pass that David Beckham would have been jealous of". Gary made one further substitute appearance as Margate lost 5-0 at home to Gravesend & Northfleet in the Kent Senior Cup Final on 6.5.02 but that was his last game for the club. His contract expired in May 2002 and Gary was released. Chris Kinnear told the Isle of Thanet Gazette "Gary's done well for us but he's had a lot of injuries and we can't really afford to keep players who aren't playing." He'd made 17 appearances (three as sub) during the season.

Gary joined Croydon in the summer of 2002 but didn't play for their first team before retiring early in the 2002/03 campaign aged 34.

For several seasons during the 2000's he played for Great Wakering Rovers' veterans side and Gary was still in their squad when they won the Essex Sunday Veterans Cup Final in April 2010. Martin Buglione turned out for Wakering too. Gary also played for Runwell Hospital in the Essex Veterans Football League around that time and their squad included former Margate winger Gary Hewitt.

Gary worked as a window cleaner during his time with Margate.

SEASON (CLUB)

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1999/00 (MFC)

35 (55)

2

1

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION (3RD OF 22)

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2R

4R

2R

SEASON (CLUB)

FULL (MAX)

SUB

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2000/01 (MFC)

15 (50)

5

1

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION (1ST OF 22)

2QR

4R

2R

2R

     Margate promoted to Conference.

SEASON (CLUB)

FULL (MAX)

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2001/02 (MFC)

14 (53)

3

0

CONFERENCE (8TH OF 22)

4QR

QF

RU

W

     Played (as sub) in Kent Senior Cup Final (06.05.02 - lost 5-0 at home to Gravesend & Northfleet). 
     Played in Southern League Championship Match (11.08.01 - beat Worcester City on penalties at home after 1-1 draw).