THE late Anthony Harford was a man of class and a true professional. Such was the sentiment shared by former All Sport Promotions project officer Nicholas Lochan, who spent five years of his administrative sporting career working alongside the veteran sport promoter.
Harford, 68, died on Saturday. He left a legacy in media, broadcasting and sports administration and was an ex-marketing manager and director at All Sport Promotions who played a leading role in helping propel local sports.
Lochan worked with Harford from 2011-2016 and boasted that Harford always maintained sheer professionalism even when faced with unexpected and uncomfortable challenges.
He described Harford as selfless.
“Tony conceptualised events, called a team who would discuss it, see what ideas you had and he would have his links, where he could, call on a sponsor to assist and pull it off.
“I’ll be honest, a lot of the times these events didn’t make money, but some did. The fact is, even if it didn’t make money, he would never cancel the event.
“And it was sort of hard for the staff to accept because you want to make money. At the end of the day, it’s not entirely about only giving players opportunities. But for him, it was giving opportunities before all other things.”
During his five-year tenure, Lochan, who is now a sport officer at the University of TT, worked on multiple projects with Harford and Richard Piper, another project officer.
His first event with Harford was the 2011 UWI half-marathon. From there, All Sport Promotions did jobs for TT Football Association marketing and even held the 2012 Quadrangular T20 tournament which featured TT, Barbados, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
They also hosted two Australian tours which Lochan claims gave youngsters like Nicholas Pooran, Joshua Da Silva and Keagan Simmons an opportunity to compete on the international circuit, among a host of other events designed to help develop local sportsmen and women.
A rare tribute to Harford, however, came from the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) on Saturday.
GOC secretary general Veda Bruno-Victor said Harford spoke at their award ceremony some years ago, organised competitions on the island and even introduced them to Carriacou-born wicketkeeper Emmanuel Stewart, who now plays for Windward Islands.
Lochan said Tony had a love for children and was integral in working behind the scenes to give Stewart a fighting chance of developing his cricket career.
“He had a love for kids. Even when we did events, and sometimes were under-budget, we would cut meals or refreshments and he would be adamant that the children had to eat, and to prioritise that first.
“It was a different theory from what I understood, coming from school. In theory, you pay for the most important things first, but for him, it was reverse. Lunch and water for everyone was always catered for before referees, officials and you were paid. He even convinced businesses on tight budgets to put a meal on their event to ensure children were fed.
“Tony really had a different level of professionalism. I haven’t seen anyone to date with that vision,” Lochan added.
Lochan also affirmed teams from Tobago were never left out. Even when it was not easy to bring across teams, Harford ensured the island was always included in his events.
“He would always include Tobago. No matter how much times I pitched to him about the airfare and how sponsors were never too (interested in paying) for these flights, Tobago was always included whether the challenges faced.
“When they arrived (in Trinidad) he ensured they had transport and food in place, because some organisers feel when you book Tobago teams, it’s just to get them over here, and that’s it. “Not with Tony, Tobagonians were always taken care of equally.”
Lochan mostly admired Harford’s ability to keep calm and bring speedy resolve to any challenging situation.
“His tenacity to believe he’d find a way – I would really recognise that. I’ve seen people, when faced with challenging situations, they get flustered, impatient and even cuss sometimes.
“This is one thing I can put all my money on: I’ve never once seen him get to that level, not once. I’ve never seen him lose his voice, his temper or curse anyone.”
Lochan reminisced about one particular time when a contingent was leaving Trinidad on Boxing Day to head to Florida for a four-day football competition which featured a team from the north zone.
After an array of meetings for over a month and even on the morning before they left, one player from Blanchisseusse was unaccounted for at the airport. When they called his parents, the player’s mom said she misread the date.
“I was furious, I was upset, because we paid for this guy to travel and he was at home.
“But Mr Harford called someone who he knew in the police service up there (Blanchisseuse) and they escorted him (the player) to the airport. He arrived when we were getting on the plane.
“Tony didn’t even argue with anyone or say anything harsh in such a situation. I admired that, because I would have told the player that he would be left behind.
“I’m sure there were times people may have screwed him over but he would never come out and say those things. It was something I’m still amazed at. He (was) a true professional and a man of class.”