AFC Sudbury stalwart Mike Ford has been presented with The FA 50-Year Service Medal.
Mike, who is 72, received the award from Suffolk FA Director Bruce Badcock before AFC Sudbury’s BetVictor North Division home fixture versus Canvey Island on Saturday.
He has been actively involved continuously in football for almost 56 years, in particular at AFC Sudbury.
Mike began playing at 16 years of age in 1963 for Uxbridge United, starting in the reserves but had become a regular first team player by the end of the season.
At 18 years he moved to Redhill United where, unfortunately, in his first season with his new club 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, and within three months he was appointed first-team manager.
This was the start of a 13-year relationship with the club that, after a couple of amalgamations, became know as Croydon Athletic, with Mike becoming a director of the club.
Missing the day-to-day involvement with players, Mike accepted an offer from Colchester United to work for them as a scout. He also worked as head scout for Ebbsfleet United.
Then he received a phone call from Chris Symes at Cornard United, where he then spent the next 11 years working as assistant manager.
His success at Cornard did not go unnoticed and AFC Sudbury were able to recruit him to work as joint manager with their Reserve team.
Then followed spells with Halstead Town as Youth Development Manager, until then first-team manager David Batch persuaded him to rejoin AFC Sudbury as head scout.
Mike’s role at AFC Sudbury gradually expanded as he became an integral part of Danny Laws’ staff in the AFC Sudbury Football Academy, while still working as head scout.
He has been on the last four USA tours made by the Academy.
Mike is now working in the AFC boardroom on match days, entertaining visitors and officials.
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.”
Mike is pictured above (second right) receiving his award from Suffolk FA Director Bruce Badcock flanked by AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long and former chairman Phil Turner.