It is with great sadness that the Club has learned of the recent passing of former Blackheath full-back and England international, Anthony ‘Tony’ Mervyn Jorden, at the age of 76.
Tony was born in Radlett, Hertfordshire on 28th January 1947 and educated at Monmouth School, before going on to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. He was a Cambridge blue in both rugby and cricket in 1968 and 1969. He captained the University cricket side in his second year and played Minor Counties and List A cricket for Bedfordshire from 1975 to 1977.
Tony was living at home in Old Harlow, Essex when he joined the Club. He played in the 1st XV at Blackheath whilst at Cambridge, appearing in at least fifteen games for the Club in the 1966-67 season. He was an elegant, smooth running full back who, when attacking, liked to join the line in a wide position and create an overlap for his winger. He had a very safe pair of hands and kicked right footed ‘around the ball,’ which was becoming the vogue then, rather than ‘through the ball.’ He had the knack of sending the ball some distance down the touchline before it found touch. He was a very efficient goal kicker.
When Bedford entertained Blackheath in The Powergen Cup on 5th November 2005, Tony wrote in the programme, “I spent the early part of my playing career in London with Blackheath and had eight enjoyable seasons there.”
He was Blackheath 1st XV captain for the seasons 1970-71, 1971-72 and 1972-73 and made a total of seven appearances for England. His first international appearance was against France in 1970 and he went on to play against Ireland, France and Scotland in1973, against France in 1974, and against Wales and Scotland in 1975.
Tony played six games for the Barbarians on their Welsh tours in 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974 and one game in 1970 against Leicester Tigers in their regular December match. In total, he kicked 76 points for the Barbarians.
On leaving Blackheath, Tony joined Bedford, where he was a stalwart in the side from 1974 to 1979, making 124 appearances, contributing 352 points and scoring 17 tries. He wrote that he enjoyed his rugby for four “fabulous” years at Goldington Road.
After Bedford, he started to play for a veterans team in Hemel Hempstead at outside half, where he said he “talked even more and tackled even less.”
Tony went on to become an England rugby selector for five years or so, touring the country to watch players. He also helped out as a backs coach for London and England.
Tony was a quiet, gentle character, so it was a great surprise to all when, in a traditional Blackheath Cricket Club versus Blackheath Rugby Club cricket match at the Rectory Field in 1977, Tony bowled an orange. Had it been a cricket ball it would have been hit for six, instead it covered the pitch and players in orange juice, much to the amusement of the crowd.
Tony will be greatly missed here at the Club and our thoughts are very much with his family and friends.
Peter Brown & Mandy Allen
For those wishing to attend the funeral, the details can be found here.