Record-breaking Welshman

19th October 2013

Is any footballer worth £85 million?
Real Madrid obviously think so, otherwise they wouldn't have stumped up that eye watering sum for Gareth Bale.
And whatever you think the relative values are of say a nurse, a brain surgeon, a fireman or a footballer, as long as us fans keep buying tickets, replica shirts and paying for satellite TV subscriptions, clubs like Real will carry on paying what they feel is an affordable price for players.
Real have the wherewithal to splash out a king's ransom on one player, and they obviously have the experience that it will be worth their while in the long run.
They're not known as the Galacticos for nothing. They've had plenty of experience of huge transfer deals.
Bale is their fifth signing over £50 million - following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka and Luis Figo.
Some of their "budget" buys of under £50m have included the Brazilian Ronaldo, David Beckham, Arjen Robben, Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder.
So they obviously reckon it's worth splashing the cash on big names.
Take Cristiano Ronaldo for instance, Real have more than recouped the £80 million investment on him - to such an extent they have rewarded him with a massive pay rise, taking his annual salary to £14.25m. 
Just a year after signing him in 2009, Real announced they had already made £90 million, mainly on the back of shirt sales of the Portuguese forward's No 9 jersey.
Big clubs have always paid relatively big money for big name players, it's just that the numbers are bigger these days.
It probably won't surprise you to that Bale is the 42nd player to hold the world transfer record, but it might surprise some to find out that he's NOT the first Welshman to hold the title.
Rush, Hughes, Charles, Allchurch? No, none of these . . . but it was a former Swansea player.
Trevor Ford was the 14th  player to hold the title of the world's costliest player when he moved from Aston Villa to play for today's opponents Sunderland - then known as the "Bank of England" club.
The club earned the nickname due to a succession of big money transfers, including that of Ford in 1950 for £30,000.
Ford's rise to become the world's most expensive player couldn't have been more different to Bale's, although both did start their playing careers as full-backs.
The powerful Ford started his career with the Swans in 1942, but was converted to a striker after being conscripted to the Army during the Second World War.
After the war he played for Swansea Town in the 1945/46 Victory League season, which saw the Swans matched up with the likes of Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and Aston Villa in the Southern Area of the regionalised league.
During that season Ford banged home 41 goals, included a hat-trick in a 5-4 win over Villa, which obviously impressed the Midlanders, who signed him for £9,500, with Tommy Dodds travelling the other way as part of the deal.
Ford, who had also by now been capped by Wales, took the First Division by storm as Villa's top scorer for three consecutive seasons.
Having scored 59 goals in 121 matches for the Villa Park club, big spending Sunderland came calling in October 1950 and made him the world's costliest player in a £30,000 deal.
While Gareth Bale's home debut for Real Madrid against city rivals Atletico was something of a disappointment for the Welshman as his side slipped to a defeat, Ford's home debut for Sunderland was altogether more productive, in more ways than one.
The no-nonsense striker blasted a hat-trick, which included bundling the Wednesday keeper and ball into the net, he broke the jaw of a Wednesday defender in a clash of heads and also broke a goalpost with a powerful shot!
Talk about getting your money's worth!
Ford was famous for his physical style and enhanced his hard man reputation when he reportedly scored the winner in a cup match after breaking his ankle! 
While much of the success of Bale's stay at Real will depend on the ability of his name to sell shirts, much of Ford's stay at Sunderland depended on his ability to sell cars. 
While clubs may have always paid big money for big players, they may not have always paid big players the big wages.
He may have been football's most expensive player, but in order to supplement his pay - capped in those days at around £12 a week, Ford used to sell cars for his chairman in the afternoons after training.
However, despite scoring 67 goals in 108 matches, it wasn't all plain sailing for Ford at Sunderland.
Apparently the Welshman and Roker legend Len Shackleton didn't get on - again drawing parallels with Bale and Madrid, where there have been fears that Ronaldo may not welcome the man who has broken his old transfer record.
After moving on to Cardiff City, Ford's time at Sunderland came back to haunt him when he released an autobiography revealing under the table payments at Sunderland, which led to him being fined and suspended from playing.
Ford left British football when he signed for PSV Eindhoven which meant he missed the 1958 World Cup in Swansea, the only time Wales have qualified for the knockout stages.
This was a massive shame for a man who was only one of four Welshmen to be named in the Football League's list of 100 legends of the 20th century in 1999. 
The other three also being Swansea men who played in that World Cup - Ivor Allchurch, John Charles and Cliff Jones. I wonder how much that quartet would be worth in today's transfer market?
Anyway, let's hope the Swans' present day stars continue to enhance their value to the club this afternoon. Not that I want the club cashing in on anyone, but a player's transfer value only rises if he's playing well, and that can only be good news for the club. Here's to the Swans' stock continuing to rise on and off the pitch.