Where are they now? Jon Ford
Have you ever wondered what a former Swans player has been up to since hanging up his boots?
As part of a regular feature, Andy Greeves discovers what former Swansea City players have been up to since retiring from playing.
This week we focus on former utlility player John Ford, who scored nine goals in 206 appearances for Swansea City between 1991 and 1995.
Ford is now the owner of Ford Installations and Assistant Manager of Stourbridge FC.
Jon Ford signed for Swansea City from Cradley Town back in the summer of 1991.
The utility player, who was 23 at the time, made the jump from non-league football to the professional game alongside John Williams.
The two players cost just £5,000 each, but they would both make a success of their moves into the big time.
Ford quickly established himself as a first-team regular at the Vetch, making his debut for the Swans at home to Bolton Wanderers in August 1991.
“I came on as a substitute for the last 15 minutes of the match in central midfield,” recalls Ford, who made 160 league appearances during his Swans career, scoring seven times.
“We drew 1-1 that day and it was a great feeling playing my first Football League game.
“There was something of a reality check for me that afternoon thinking, ‘wow, you’re a professional footballer now’.
“In the weeks before signing for Swansea, I had been working as a cladder in Dover helping out on the Channel Tunnel project!”
Stourbridge-born Ford soon made his full debut in his native West Midlands as the Swans won 1-0 at Walsall in the League Cup.
Frank Burrows’s team finished 19th in the old Third Division come the end of the 1991-92 campaign, but there was a dramatic improvement in the following season.
This time the Swans finished fifth in Division Two (the third tier of league football) and made it into the play-offs.
“The Division Two play-off semi-finals against West Bromwich Albion were incredible occasions to be involved in, even though we ultimately didn’t get the result we were after,” comments Ford.
“Coming on as a substitute in the Autoglass Trophy final was another great moment, because it was a chance to play at Wembley and win some silverware.
“From a personal perspective, my final season with Swansea (1994-95) was when I enjoyed my best form.
“Sadly, things weren’t going very well at the club off the field and players like John Cornforth, Steve Jenkins and Jason Bowen were being sold.
“I had the chance to go to Bradford and it was a good opportunity for me at the time.”
Ford made 26 appearances for Bradford during the 1995-96 season, scoring once, prior to spells with Gillingham and Barnet.
In 1999, he returned to non-league football, signing for Kidderminster Harriers and thereafter moving to Telford United, Halesowen Town, Bromsgrove Rovers and Stourbridge.
“I’ve been the assistant manager at Stourbridge for the last 15 years,” adds Ford.
“We train twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and play on Saturday. We’re in the Northern Premier League, so it means a fair bit of travelling as we go as far north as places like Workington (in Cumbria) and Whitby (in North Yorkshire).
“We’ve had a fantastic few years and we beat Northampton Town in the FA Cup last season en route to a third-round tie with Wycombe Wanderers. We were beaten by Spennymoor Town in the Northern Premier League play-off final last season.
“Going forward, we need promotion this season. Getting into the play-offs is a minimum for us really.”
In addition to his commitments at Stourbridge, Ford also runs his own business, Ford Installations.
“We install pallet racking and shelving systems,” explains Ford. “I’ve run the business for over 15 years now and I employ seven people currently.
“I get fully involved in doing the installations myself. I’m rarely out of the house any later than 6am in the morning because we travel all over the UK for jobs.
“It’s a physical job, so it keeps me reasonably fit. Every job is different and it keeps your mind active.
“I’ve done work in the Swansea area, including jobs at Morriston Hospital and the DVLA headquarters.”
Ford is still in touch with a number of his former Swans colleagues, including Williams - the man who was also spotted by Burrows playing for Cradley.
“I see John about three or four times a year,” smiles Ford. “We go on holiday once a year and he also visits for lunch with my family on Christmas Day.
“I also bump into Frank Burrows from time to time as he lives locally (in the West Midlands). It’s always great to see him because Frank is someone I’ve always had a lot of time for as a person and a manager.”