FORMER president of the Super League (the second-tiered Trinidad and Tobago football league) Keith Look Loy has described late sports broadcaster, organiser and administrator Anthony “Tony” Harford as “a man who you could have talked to,” and someone who “put his money where his mouth was.”
Look Loy was speaking on Monday about Harford, who died on Friday at the age of 68.
“Harford was a man who you could have talked to,” said Look Loy. “In football, that is not an easy thing to find.
“I’m not saying that he necessarily agreed with you, or you agreed with him, but he was a man who was accessible, reachable, who you could discuss matters with and who you could reach conclusions with.”
Look Loy continued, “He also put his money where his mouth was. A lot of the times, he was financing Super League operations with his company’s money. He tried his best to operate the (league) in a professional manner. Yes, there were failings, but I respect people who try to do things in a professional and honest manner.”
Look Loy described Harford as a “lover of sports.”
The former president and coach of FC Santa Rosa mentioned, “He had his favourites. Horseracing was probably, or possibly, his favourite. He was a lover of ‘the sport of kings’. He loved football (and) cricket. He didn’t only love them, but he was the most influential sports events manager in the country.
“In football, he and his company All Sports Promotions handled what I considered to be the two most important and long-standing football ‘properties’ in the country – the Republic Bank Cup which transformed into the Republic Bank League, and the National Super League which he ran for (about) 16 years. He was the most important person in the staging of those events. That was a major contribution to the sport of football.
“More recently, he was asked by the Northern Football Association to become (its) president,” Look Loy continued. “He tried to promote youth football. In the last part of his career, in the politics of the TTFA, he helped to remove the (David) John-Williams administration, which I consider to be an important contribution.”
Look Loy and Harford were part of the United TTFA team, led by William Wallace, who ran the TTFA from November 2019 until March 2020.
“(Harford) wasn’t only a lover of sport but he did things that were important for the development of the game,” Look Loy added. “When we emerge from this covid-imposed hiatus, football is going to be hard-pressed to replace him.”
Look Loy also touched on the transition from Harford, to himself, as head of the Super League.
“He had a franchise that he paid for, from the TTFA, starting with (Oliver Camps), to run the National Super League. In 2016, the John-Williams administration decided they were not going to renew that (deal). There was a real possibility of the Super League going out of existence, which the clubs didn’t want to do.
“On the 13th of December 2016, before the end of the season, 17 of the clubs met at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, when the TTFA had an office there, we decided that we were going to be forming our own league to succeed the National Super League. We decided we were going to call it the Trinidad and Tobago Super League. The clubs asked me to become the interim president, and by election I became president. Tony had nothing to do with that.”
Top horseracing trainer John O’Brien remembers Harford for his tireless work, regarding obtaining sponsorship for the sport.
“Anthony was a great asset, in terms of horseracing, in more ways than one,” said O’Brien, also in an interview on Monday. “He was a great supporter and a tireless worker behind the scenes, in seeking sponsorship.”
Reflecting on their relationship, O’Brien said, “I know him so long. He always had a degree of calmness about him. Tony was a pleasant fellow and he was wonderful for horseracing. We had a very good relationship. He would sorely be missed.”
He continued, “I was a pilot and Tony got a pilot’s licence. I remembered talking to him about it. We’re talking about the ’70s.”
One memory that stood out for O’Brien was Harford’s hosting of the annual Jetsam Awards (for the top performers in the industry).
“He was a fabulous MC (master of ceremonies) and he did a fantastic job,” said the racehorse trainer.
Asked about any award, or recognition, to be bestowed on Harford, albeit posthumously, O’Brien replied, “Every honour he gets he deserves, even a national honour. He really put a lot into it. He was involved with cricket, football (and) horseracing.”