AFC Sudbury club legend Mike Ford is surprised with a Suffolk FA 50-Year Service Medal at game with Canvey Island
Mike Ford had his great contribution to the local football scene recognised in a surprise presentation on the pitch at AFC Sudbury’s home game with Canvey Island on Saturday.
The 72-year-old was presented with a FA 50-Year Service Medal following his efforts to put back into the game he loves.
Currently the matchday host for visiting officials and sponsors in the boardroom at AFC Sudbury, he has also been part of the management team with the reserves, the club’s head scout, walking football pioneer. He also became an integral part of Danny Laws’ AFC Sudbury Academy staff in recent seasons, including as head of rehabilitation, and has been on all four of the club’s USA summer tours to date.
Despite being very ill with lung cancer now, he is still seen performing his latest duties at the club during the weekend and evening matches he is well enough to attend.
He is also known in the area for his 11-year spell working alongside Chris Symes at Cornard United as assistant manager and moved from there to Halstead Town as youth development manager.
Former manager David Batch persuaded ‘4D’, as he is affectionately known, to return to AFC Sudbury as head scout before his reign ended in 2017, where he has remained in differing roles ever since.
Mike has been a fantastic servant to the game at grassroots level, latterly at AFC Sudbury; we would all benefit from having more people with Mike’s positivity and kindness in our lives - Richard Neal, Suffolk FA chief executive
AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long said: “He was chuffed as he was not expecting it; we just asked if he could come down.
“We cannot think of anybody better deserving of such an award for 50 years service to football locally. It has been an outstanding contribution from an outstanding human being.”
Ford began his playing career as a 16-year-old for Uxbridge United, starting in the reserves, but was a regular first team player by the end of the season.
He moved to Redhill United as at 18 but in his first season he suffered a bad break to his leg from which he never fully recovered.
After a couple of years out of the game he was appointed reserve team manager for West Norwood Reserves. Within three months he was appointed first team manager, which was the start of a 13-year relationship with the club that after a couple of amalgamations became know as Croydon Athletic with Ford becoming a director of the club.
Missing the day-to-day involvement with players, he accepted an offer from Colchester United to work for them as a scout and also worked as head scout for Ebbsfleet United.
Symes brought him over to work in Suffolk at Cornard United during a successful decade, before AFC Sudbury were able to recruit him to work as joint manager with the reserve team.
Then followed a spell with Halstead Town before he returned to AFC Sudbury, whom he has a lot of affection for.
Suffolk FA chief executive Richard Neal said: “Mike has been a fantastic servant to the game at grassroots level, latterly at AFC Sudbury; we would all benefit from having more people with Mike’s positivity and kindness in our lives.
“I am sure all of Suffolk football will join me in congratulating Mike on receiving this richly deserved award.”
More by this authorRussell Claydon
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