It often happens that when one door closes another one opens. In the summer of 1961 Rovers must have been worried about how to plug the considerable gap left by the retirement of wing legend Cyril Woolford. At the same time, the club offered trials to a local youngster who did sufficiently well to get signed, and by his fourth season he was lining up for Great Britain.
Quite different in style to the man he replaced, Gary Jordan had pace to burn and a classy running style that saw him weave round rather than barge through defences. After making his debut in August 1961, he was soon running in the tries and clocked up 30 in his first full year on the back of some excellent service from what was becoming a very good Featherstone Rovers team. The tries continued and international recognition followed for Gary when he made his Great Britain debut against France in 1964, the first Featherstone player to play on the wing for Great Britain since Tommy Askin in 1928. Less than a year later Jordan made the slightly bizarre decision to give up rugby league and he went off to play soccer for Ossett Town. Within a year he was back in Rovers’ colours and had lost none of his pace and skills whilst in the round-ball code. He marked his comeback by picking up a winner’s medal in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley and later that year he won his second international cap when he faced the 1967 Australians.
Undoubtedly all wingers would like to be remembered for the tries they scored. Tries are, after all, their stock in trade. Gary Jordan scored plenty of memorable efforts during his career. However, one of his most crucial contributions to the Rovers cause was on defence and wasn’t even a try saving tackle. On our 1967 Wembley run, Rovers were beating Castleford 8-4 at home in a titanic quarter final battle. Late in the game Hardisty broke clean through for Castleford, a certain scorer. Jordan chased back and forced him out wide to score. What could have been an easy conversion became much more difficult and was missed. It made all the difference as Rovers hung on for a thrilling 8-7 victory.
In all, Gary played 229 games for Rovers scoring 115 tries, which is still ninth on Rovers all-time list, despite having recently been overtaken by Andy Kain. After a serious knee operation in 1968 he made a comeback, but then left for Castleford in 1970. It wasn’t long before a recurrence of his injury ended his career.