Tony Ford (footballer, born 1959)
|Full name||Anthony Ford|
|Date of birth||14 May 1959|
|Place of birth||Grimsby, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|1986||→ Sunderland (loan)||9||(1)|
|1989–1991||West Bromwich Albion||114||(14)|
|1993||→ Bradford City (loan)||5||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Anthony Ford MBE (born 14 May 1959 in Grimsby, Lincolnshire) is an English former footballer. Through most of his career, Ford was a right-sided midfielder, but in the later years of his career, he was converted to right-back. In a career that spanned 26 years, across four decades, Ford played no fewer than 931 league matches, which is the all-time record for matches played in the English league by an outfield player with not one game played in the top-flight division. Only goalkeeper Peter Shilton (1005 matches) has played more. Ford is in fact only one of three outfield players to play in English football to have ever passed 1000 games in competitive matches (league and cup), the others being Scott McGleish and Graham Alexander.
Ford began his career at his hometown club Grimsby Town, where he made his first-team debut as a 16-year-old in October 1975. He spent 11 years at Blundell Park, where he made his name as one of the most talented players outside the top division. In 1986, he left Grimsby. He first had a short loan spell at Sunderland, and later joined Stoke in a permanent deal.
Ford spent two and a half years at Stoke, before being transferred to West Bromwich midway through the 1988–89 season. After three years at The Hawthorns, he rejoined Grimsby in late 1991. His second spell at Blundell Park lasted three seasons, and he left the club at the end of the 1993–94 season, having played 423 league games for the club, which at the time placed him second on the club's career appearance list behind Keith Jobling (he has since been passed on that list by John McDermott and Paul Groves).
In 1994, Ford joined Grimsby's arch-rivals Scunthorpe, where he played two seasons. When he was released at the end of the 1995–96 season, it seemed like his career at league level had come to an end. However, after a short spell at non-league side Barrow, he was asked by Steve Parkin, a former teammate at Stoke and WBA, who had recently been appointed manager at Mansfield to become his assistant. This allowed Ford to continue his playing career, and in early 1999, he played his 825th career league game, breaking Terry Paine's record for career appearances by an outfield player.
In the summer of 1999, Parkin resigned as Mansfield manager to take a similar job at Rochdale. Once again, he appointed Ford as his assistant, and despite now being well past 40, Ford continued to play regularly. The final goal of his career was the winner in a 1–0 win at Swansea City on 9 October 2001 and his final professional appearance came the following month against Torquay United. He finally retired from playing in November 2001 when he and Parkin took up the same positions at Barnsley understandably feeling himself unequal to Division One football once more. He was sacked along with Parkin some 11 months later but in August 2003 he returned to his old role at Rochdale under new manager Alan Buckley. He kept his job when Buckley made way for Parkin on 31 December 2003 but was sacked along with the latter three years later.
He went on to work for former club Grimsby Town as a scout but was relieved of his duties in May 2011.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other[A]||Total|
|Grimsby Town||1975–76||Third Division||15||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||16||0|
|Sunderland (loan)||1985–86||Second Division||9||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||9||1|
|Stoke City||1986–87||Second Division||41||6||5||0||2||0||1||1||49||7|
|West Bromwich Albion||1988–89||Second Division||11||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||11||1|
|Grimsby Town||1991–92||Second Division||22||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||22||1|
|Bradford City (loan)||1993–94||Division Two||5||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||7||0|
|Scunthorpe United||1994–95||Division Three||38||2||4||0||2||0||1||0||45||2|
|Mansfield Town||1996–97||Division Three||27||2||2||1||0||0||1||0||30||3|
- Grimsby Town
- Football League Group Cup: 1982
- Supporters Player of the Year: 1984, 1985
- Supporters Young Player of the Year: 1976
- Scott McGleish at 44 and 1,000 games: ‘I can’t see myself giving up soon’ | Football | The Guardian
- "Burnley 2–1 Swansea". BBC News. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- "Swansea 0–1 Rochdale". BBC Sport. 9 October 2001. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Rochdale 2–0 Torquay". BBC Sport. 3 November 2001. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Tony Ford at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- Tony Ford at Soccerbase