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Tony Ford Interview

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 08/11/2000

Linda Broughton's interview with Tony Ford appeared in the June 2000 edition of 'It's a Grim Exile' - a bi-monthly magazine containing news, views and items of interest both from and for exiled GTFC supporters.

Tony Ford Interview

If you would be interested in recieving a sample copy, please send an E-Mail with your name and address to Emma Gillingham

Tony Ford
Tony Ford

IAGE:
What was it like growing up in Grimsby? How were you discovered as a footballer?

Tony:
Growing up, it was like anywhere else really. Football was the only thing to play. I was discovered by Albert Taylor in 1974. He did lots of scouting for Town. Tommy Casey came to have a look and signed me up.

IAGE:
Have you ever encountered any prejudice from the moronic elements in the crowd, and how do you cope with it?

Tony:
I've either blanked it completely, or never suffered it. Everyone gets abuse for a variety of reasons e.g. Cantona for being French.

IAGE:
What about the humorous Rochdale chants ('He's big, he's bad, he's older than me Dad, Tony Ford, Tony Ford'/'He's nearly 63, he's got an MBE, Tony Ford, Tony Ford')?

Tony:
I quite like them - it's humorous. Opposition fans give me a bit of stick such as asking when I'm going to get my pension, but at least it's better than picking on my skin colour.

IAGE:
What do you consider to be the secret of your long playing career?

Tony:
I've enjoyed it. From being 5 years old to now, I've enjoyed playing football. No secret diet, I've just wanted to keep playing. It's a day to day challenge - I want to win, even 5-a-side games! I watch my diet before and after games, and am careful with what I eat and drink. Football is scientific.

IAGE:
How do you think football has changed over the period of your career?

Tony:
Media coverage has changed it - especially for top players. They're under fantastic scrutiny. Money in divisions 2 & 3 has picked up a lot too. The pace of the game is much faster now also.

IAGE:
Who was the biggest influence on you as a young player?

Tony:
My idol was Jimmy Greaves. As a player - Tommy Casey, John Newman & George Carr. Gave me my chance as a young player.

IAGE:
What do you consider to be the best and most important goals of your career?

Tony:
Best - for Town against Scunthorpe in a cup game. Most important - for Town against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - came from 2-0 down to win 2-3.

IAGE:
Who was the best player you have played with and why?

Tony:
Joe Waters - moaning git! Looking back, he was a good player himself and he got the best out of others.

IAGE:
What is your view of the Premiership? Do you think the money and the marketing are running the game and may be responsible for killing some of the smaller clubs?

Tony:
The money side is ludicrous. Clubs will struggle at the top the way the salaries are going. There's a knock on effect, but smaller clubs have to be strong, not to spend too much on salaries and keep within their budgets. Another problem is the Conference League. Some clubs (e.g. Rushden & Diamonds) now have rich benefactors. The 2nd & 3rd division clubs are in a no mans land when it come to attracting payers.
Top clubs also house players - most lower division players now commute. We have one lad who travels from Welshpool every day. Football is a job - you have to go where the work is, and not necessarily live there.

IAGE:
Is there any club you would have liked to have played for, and do you have any regrets about the way you have progressed career-wise?

Tony:
I always wanted to play for England - and achieved that at 'B' level. I have no regrets - I've enjoyed it at every club I've played for.

IAGE:
If you were offered the job, would you consider coming to Grimsby as Manager?

Tony:
Yes, of course I would. I've played there twice and I've connections there too. I would like to have a go at being a manager somewhere one day.

IAGE:
So, what makes a good manager?

Tony:
You need to be a motivator at all times and a psychologist sometimes. Never change too much - respect your players and they'll respect you. A good dressing room atmosphere is needed - no cliques and everyone getting on well together.

IAGE:
How did you find out about your M.B.E?

Tony:
I was notified of the nomination giving me the chance to turn it down if I wanted to. I didn't find out I`d got it until New Years Eve when someone from the press rang me.

IAGE:
Was Bob Cummings as hard as he was made out to be?

Tony:
He was actually! He was mad, Bob. When I first met him, I couldn't understand a word he said he was so softly spoken! He set himself up for 50/50 tackles on purpose to see how hard he was.

IAGE:
Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?

Tony:
Never really had any, no.

IAGE:
What is your pre-match meal?

Tony:
For my first ever game it was fillet steak! It varies, beans on toast, rice pudding - I've even had jelly babies!

IAGE:
Any post-match rituals/meals?

Tony:
Depressed for a while, if we've lost.

IAGE:
What was your worst journey to or from a match?

Tony:
Barrow vs Grimsby - the team bus caught fire and we finished the last 10 miles by taxi! Middlesborough vs WBA- the game was an overnight stay. It was called off on Saturday morning because of structural damage. I returned to Birmingham and had to stay there overnight because of snow - I finally got home on the Sunday afternoon!

IAGE:
Has anything amusing/embarrassing happened to you during a game?

Tony:
I was taking a throw in at Birmingham City. A great big fish landed at my feet! Also, at Rochdale in 1978, snow came through a hole in the dressing room roof. Town won 5-2 and I scored!

IAGE:
If you won the lottery, what would you spend your money on?

Tony:
Give it all to GTFC, enjoy myself. I don't do it (the lottery) religiously.

IAGE:
Would you have liked to have gone to Wembley in 1998?

Tony:
I`d have loved to have gone. Unfortunately I already had two prior commitments.

IAGE:
Did anyone have any annoying habits?

Tony:
Nigel Batch. His choice of language is amusing. Censor needed - every other word is an expletive!

IAGE:
Have you ever come across any drug problems in the game?

Tony:
I've never known an incident where someone's taken drugs and been found out.

IAGE:
And finally, you must feel sorry for Shaun Mower (Tony played in 20 mins of Shaun's recent testimonial game).

Tony:
Shaun had to be on dialysis for 14 hours before even watching the game. I feel so lucky, as I started out with him. Life's challenged Shaun.

Tony Ford MBE

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