Tributes paid to Sudbury club football legend Mike Ford
- Credit: AFC Sudbury
People from across the Suffolk football world have been paying tribute to AFC Sudbury legend, Mike Ford, who has died aged 74.
Known to many by his nickname "4D", Mike had a lifelong passion for football and remained a key part of the club while battling a long illness.
Following his death on August 12, there was a minute's applause in his honour at the season's opening match against Aveley.
AFC Sudbury chairman Andrew Long described Mike as "a wonderful servant to non league football".
He said: "Mike was an integral part of football at AFC Sudbury at all levels of the game. Nothing was too much trouble for 4D.
"He had time for everyone and was only too happy to pass on his vast knowledge and experience.
"But above all he was a gentleman and a truly generous human being. He will be sorely missed by everyone at the football club."
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Mike's daughter, Cara Matthews, said the number of tributes and comments the family had received since her dad's passing showed just how highly he was thought of in the football world.
"He was very passionate about football and all sport," she said.
Mike had five children, Mia, Vicki, Cara, Kelly and Daniel, and five grandchildren, Astrid, Blake, Ryan, Cydney and Kenzi.
Cara said her father was also devoted to his family: "He was always there for every one of us."
He lost his second wife, Mary, whom Cara described as his soulmate, to cancer about 20 years ago.
Although football was his main sporting passion, Mike also played cricket, and golf in his later years, in a social group with many of his close friends.
Cara also said Mike was famous among family and friends for his jokes.
Mike started playing football at 16 for Uxbridge United, where he began in the reserves but became a regular in the first team by the end of the season. At 18, he moved to Redhill United, but he suffered a bad break to his leg which meant an early end to his playing career.
However, his dedication to football continued. A couple of years later he became team manager for West Norwood Reserves and then first team manager, starting a 13-year relationship with the club, which later became Croydon Athletic.
He later became a scout for Colchester United, as well as working as head scout for Ebbsfleet United. Next he went on to join Cornard United as assistant manager, where he spent the next 11 years.
Mike first joined AFC Sudbury as joint manager with the reserve team. He left to go to Halstead Town as youth development manager, but then re-joined AFC Sudbury as head scout.
His role at AFC Sudbury expanded as he worked with the AFC Academy while still working as head scout, and he went on the club's last four USA football tours.
Even when his health started to fail, he continued to be a key part of the club, becoming a board room ambassador.
Academy director Danny Laws said: "4D will be missed by all of us at the academy. He was with us at the very beginning, offering so much support and words of encouragement to all the players we have had come through the system.
"He loved being around the place and was with us on all the big occasions, be that FA Youth Cup runs, County Finals or the USA Tours. RIP mate."
Former AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley said: “I have known Mike for many years. A great football enthusiast with bags of experience and time for everyone; whatever their age.
"His bravery was immense as he fought the tough battle against serious illness. He was always positive. The game we love has lost one of the legends."