Published: 08:00, 20 May 2020
| Updated: 13:24, 20 May 2020
VCD Athletic have led the tributes to their former manager Martin Ford following his death.
Ford died after battling cancer on Tuesday and VCD described him as a legend and “undoubtedly the club’s most influential person in our history.”
Ford was manager at VCD from 1993 to 2007 and the club’s history credits him with having the “vision and enthusiasm” to take the club from being a Kent Count League side to one that was battling at the top of the Kent League.
The 1995/96 season saw VCD win a trio of cups, the Kent Intermediate Shield, Kent County League Cup, and the Erith Hospitals Cup. The following year they won the Kent County Premier Division title for the first time in their history.
Ford won them the Kent League Cup, beating Faversham Town 4-0 in the final, to bring the club a first ever senior trophy.
He guided them to third in the league during the 2003/04 season and in 2006 they won the Kent Senior Trophy. He resigned at the end of the 2006/2007 season.
A club statement said: “His record and contribution is outstanding as, not only did he amass a number of cup final victories plus a league championship, but his vision and efforts laid the foundations of the excellent set-up that we have today.
“Not only did he manage our first team but he was also heavily involved with our youth teams over the years as he strived to take the club forward, and the tireless work he put in helped the club grow towards its present status.
“Martin was well known in football circles and the many people he encountered over the years will undoubtedly be shocked by the news. We offer our condolences to his family at this sad time.
“The club recently lost another stalwart with the passing of former player and manager Paul Foley a short while ago after a long illness. Paul first joined the club as a player, before enjoying success as our manager, culminating in our first promotion to the Isthmian League.
“The contributions to the Vickers of both Martin and Paul are greatly appreciated by everyone associated with the club.”
VCD added: “Our thoughts are with Julie, Joe , Lauren and George at this very sad time.”
His son Joe runs a coaching company and has managed himself too. Father and son have worked together as joint managers at Erith Town, saving them from relegation with three wins from their final three games of the season in the Kent League, Premier Division.
Tributes flooded in from fellow clubs, supporters, managers and players.
Current VCD boss Keith McMahon wrote: "I lost a good friend and the most influential person in my managerial career. He gave me the chance 23 years ago at VCD.
"He taught my the rights and wrongs and more importantly how to celebrate a win. He was always there for me when I needed him the most. Sleep well Fordy."
Fisher FC tweeted: “On behalf of everyone at the club, our thoughts are with the Ford family at this time. RIP Martin, and thanks for everything you did while in charge.”
Cray Valley manager Kevin Watson said: “Terrible news. I grew to really admire this man. Condolences to his family.”
Chairman of Cray Wanderers Gary Hillman said: “As a football manager the biggest respect you can have is when the opposition team raises their game just to beat you. Martin Ford was that manager.
“Love him or loath him he played a major part of non-league success in Kent/SElondon recently. RIP Fordy from everyone at Cray Wanderers.”
Erith & Belvedere described him as a "true gentleman and family man."
Tunbridge Wells manager Richard Styles added his tribute, writing on Twitter: “So sad to hear the news of the passing of Martin Ford.
“Honoured to play for you at numerous clubs and be your captain. Thankful for the opportunities in coaching & management also.Always there & gave me some great advice along the way.
“Eternally grateful for everything you have given me on & off the pitch. Today I lost my gaffer, mentor & friend and you will be missed dearly. Thoughts with you & your family during this time #RIPFordy.”