Volume 92, Issue 94
Thursday, March 25, 1999
Stampeders riding Fordes's fullback
©Gazette File Photo
IF YOU THINK RAYNE IS GOOD, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME! Former Mustang fullback Duane Forde, now of the Calgary Stampeders, shows the form that made him a CIAU force and amazed teammates.
By Paul Leeking
Amid the wave of Calgary Stampeder red and white which flooded the field in Winnipeg after the Stampeder's 1998 Grey Cup win, Western's own Duane Forde stood tall.
Entering his ninth season in the Canadian Football League, the six-foot, 230 pound bruising fullback has made a name for himself in the CFL. With stops in Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, the former Western star has emerged as one of the premiere Canadian players in the CFL.
Growing up in the Mississauga area, Forde said he never expected to play in the CFL.
"Just like any other kid, I had dreams of playing professional sports. In high school I started thinking about it more, but it wasn't until my second or third year at Western that I began to seriously consider it," he said.
Forde was highly touted after being drafted fifth overall by the Stamps in 1991. After a successful career as a Mustang gridiron star, Forde said there was a bit of an adjustment to the pro game.
"On the field, the biggest challenge was to remain confident. You are the new guy. Bottom of the barrel. I had to learn all the new offensive sets and get used to the players who were a little bigger and a lot faster," he said. "Off the field, there isn't a lot of difference. It's the same as university, except with no classes to worry about."
After graduating with a degree in kinesiology, Forde works in the off-season as a fitness trainer in Mississauga. As well, he and good friend Mike "Pinball" Clemons of the Toronto Argonauts, organize and run an instructional football camp for youth.
Forde said what he missed most about life in London was Thursday and Saturday nights at The Ceeps, along with his house on Empress Avenue.
"I shared the place with a bunch of football buddies and it was the house where everyone would meet to get ready to go out." Forde said.
Western head coach Larry Haylor, who Forde described as "the best football coach that I have ever played for," has fond memories of Forde as a player and a person.
"You wouldn't know it, but Duane is a real quiet and unassuming guy," Haylor said. "He is one of the best people one can run across, period."
Haylor's fondest memory of Forde is from a championship game in 1990.
"I remember in the '90 Atlantic Bowl, Duane statistically had a great game," Haylor reflected. "His presence and impact were even better. I remember on one touchdown when there was more than one unconscious St. Mary's player behind him."
Forde won the Don Loney trophy, given to the most outstanding player of the Atlantic Bowl, in 1989.
Playing for Calgary this year, Forde said he would play anywhere from 15 to 75 plays per game, depending on the offensive game plan. In the highly pass-oriented CFL, fullbacks usually do not receive a lot of carries or touches, but Forde's blocking has become a big part of the Stampeder offensive scheme.
Calgary Stampeder assistant coach Chuck McMann said Ford brings a lot to the game in addition to his great work as a fullback. "Duane brings experience, headiness, leadership and blocking to our football club," he said.
Forde maintained his greatest CFL moment was winning his second Grey Cup ring in 1998, while his fondest Western moment was being a part of the 1989 Vanier Cup team.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999