Tony Ford

Date published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roughyeds have appointed the Rev Tony Ford, of Christ Church, Chadderton as club chaplain.

His first duty was to bless the club’s new ground at Whitebank last Sunday morning before the opening game against York.

Married with two children, Tony will be at the next few games in his clerical collar so that supporters can recognise him and get to know him.

“He will support anyone at the club,” said chairman Christopher Hamilton. “We already pride ourselves on the support we give our players if they have problems and Tony will now be on hand to help us.”

An Oldham RL fan all his young life, Tony later played football with Manchester United’s junior and youth teams and then switched to rugby with Oldham RU and Oldham College.

He works at Christ Church with the Rev John Simmons, who is the chaplain at Oldham Athletic.

Said Tony: “I will be looking to support Chris and the Roughyeds staff — backroom staff and playing staff — and that will gradually be extended to supporters as they get to know me.

“I will give pastoral and spiritual support to all, whatever their faith or if they have no faith at all.

“The club already does a lot to help players and staff if help is needed and, as Chris says, my appointment will be another string to their bow.”

Tony, who is 49, was a thalidomide baby, born in Oldham with deformed feet, but after extensive surgery he made a full recovery, so much so that he became a footballer of some repute locally.

Married to Denise, they have a daughter Nicola (16) and a son Calum (10), and they have always lived in Oldham apart from a two-year spell when Tony was training for the Ministry at Oak Hill Theological College, London.

Before entering the Ministry, he worked for Ferranti and later as senior buyer for a local electronic company.

He gave all that up, however, to become a full-time family worker at Christ Church before taking the decision to train for the Ministry.

During a short service at Whitebank on Sunday morning, attended by around 20 people, he asked for God’s Blessing for club and ground.

Later that day, he was at the game against York — the first of many he intends to attend in the future.

The club is delighted that Tony has accepted the invitation to become its chaplain.

Said Christopher: “We pride ourselves on the way the club supports players and staff at times when they need it.

“Tony’s appointment will enable us to further embrace everyone connected with the club and to provide support for anyone who might want to take advantage of it.”