About this series
Close encounters: Tony Ford
5 January 2004
I started going to BP in 1978 and what a time that was! Two promotions, long cup runs and whipping Yorkie teams (as well as Norman Hunter) week
in, week out.
I spent my first few seasons stood outside the tunnel during
warm-up, getting autographs from my heroes on my copy of The Mariner. The deal was that if my dad paid me in, I would buy my own copy of the programme. Drinkell, Cumming, Waters, Kev Moore, Crombie and – yes! – Tony Ford all
put their monickers on my read for the week. Batchy just used to tell you to eff off and see him after the game – completely tongue-in-cheek, of course.
Tony Ford – a god! So cool! He was like John Shaft in black and white stripes and boy could he run – like shit off a stick, as they say. As well as that, time has proved that Tony was a model pro and well deserves the records and accolades he now holds.
To the present day – well, 2000 anyway – and that spotty, ginger-haired fat lad with a biro and a crumpled Mariner is still a Mariners fanatic but has grown into the being the manager of a large retail 'megastore' in Ull (well, missionary work took me there in the first place).
The arrangement I had with my boss was work Sunday and get Saturday off. I needed about a nanosecond to think about that one. The prospect of watching my heroes on Saturday and bashing a till with a thick head on a Sunday was too strong to resist.
One Sunday, having worked on a till and translated the local savages all morning, I look up to find in front of me none other than Tony Ford. I 'rung through and bagged up' his CDs, not giving away my secret past. Then, as he signed his credit card slip, I could hold back no more, blurting out: "I've got that signature on about 75 Mariners at home!"
Ford said: "Would you like it now?" Soft lad (ie. me) replied: "No mate, but all the best anyway."
Tony went away smiling, probably looking forward to listening to his purchases in his Capri (well, whatever the equivalent is now – Merc or something?) and I got straight on the phone to my better half, bellowing down the phone: "Effing hell! I've just served Tony Ford!"
She replied: "Which band is he in then?"