Looking Back At: Tony Lormor

Yesterday, I announced that I intend to climb Scafell Pike this weekend in aid of Briteside, Tony Lormor’s CIC set up to assist those affected by lymphoma, the fifth most common cancer in the UK.

For fans of a certain age, maybe 35 upwards, there was no need to ask the question who Tony Lormor is. For younger fans though, they might be inclined to ask, after all, I forget how old I am. For me, Tony Lormor feels as recent as Simon Yeo, or even Jamie Forrester. Time is a funny thing and in terms of former players, I guess it becomes difficult to gain perspective when looking back. For those who did not follow the Imps when Lormor played, or those who weren’t even born, let me enlighten you.

Anthony Lormor, known as Tony, started out playing for the legendary Wallsend Boy’s Club, the same club that also saw Steve Bruce, Alan Shearer, and Michael Bridges in action as youths. By the age of 12, Tony was already six feet tall and had attracted the attention of Newcastle United scouts. When he left college, he was given an apprenticeship by then-boss Willie McFall. It was some Newcastle squad back then, with future Imps’ duo Neil McDonald and Peter Jackson in the squad, as well as Glenn Roeder, Paul Goddard, Mirandinha and a local lad by the name of Paul Gascoigne.

Newcastle United - Long read: Tony Lormor's story
Credit Newcastle United

 

The young Lormor was coached by John Pickering, the former Imps manager, and he quickly earned a shot at first-team football. He replaced Mirandinha in a First Division game against Spurs to earn his debut, before getting his first start against Oxford United. In true ‘Roy of the Rovers’ fashion, he bagged a goal, a diving head no less, on his full debut. Two days later he grabbed a winner against Portsmouth: he was still only 17. After a brief spell on loan at Norwich, where he failed to appear once, he returned to St James’ Park and scored against, in May 1989 against West Ham United. On the final day of the 88/89 season, he collided with former Wallsend Boy’s Club player Steve Bruce away at Old Trafford and was carried off injured, which seemed to end his Magpies career.

Their loss was our gain, and in February 1990 he linked up again with Pickering, who was coaching at Sincil Bank. Colin Murphy paid a fee of £25,000 for the striker, who went on to amass over 100 appearances. As he had with the Magpies, he netted on his League debut for City in a 1-0 win over Wrexham. He impressed immediately upon arriving at Sincil Bank, bagging four goals in six matches, including a brace as we hammered Hartlepool 4-1 at home. In his first season, he finished as joint top scorer in the league, despite only having three months with the club.

Pro Set English Fixtures Card (1991) Tony Lormor Lincoln City No. 83 | eBay

1990/91 wasn’t a great season for City, Allan Clarke came and went very quickly and Tony suffered from a series of niggly injuries. He only completed 90 minutes in the league on one occasion before Christmas. He also completed 90 minutes in the FA Cup, scoring his first goal of the season as we went down 4-1 to Crewe. He was back out after that for a short period, and when he returned we’d got a fresh manager for him to impress, namely Steve Thompson. Impress he did: he got fit, scoring his league first goals of the campaign on March 9th as Hartlepool once again felt his wrath, City winning 3-1. From then on he went on a great run, scoring 12 league goals in total and again finishing as leading scorer with twice as many as any other player, despite only playing half of the season. Many fans will remember his four-goal haul on the final day of the season as we thrashed Carlisle 6-2.

The following season once again started without Tony in the squad as he recovered from an injury picked up in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup Final, He returned to the squad for a 3-0 defeat at Hereford, a difficult time for City. Over the next seven matches, we scored one goal and things looked bleak, until Scunthorpe United visited on November 23rd. He bagged his first senior hat-trick as we beat them 4-2, then notched again as Doncaster were beaten 5-1 a week later: City were up and running.

Credit LCFC

He finished as leading scorer again, with nine league goals, two clear of next-placed player Dean West, As the season ended, City looked in great form, winning seven from seven, including a 5-1 win at Chesterfield, a game which Tony scored in, and a 4-1 win at Halifax during which he grabbed a brace. Many observers felt we might be title challengers in 1992/93, but it would have to be without our centre forward. Unfortunately, he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in training which forced him to miss the whole of the season. He spent close to 18 months on the sidelines, and by the time he returned Steve Thompson had left the club and Keith Alexander was in charge.

He appeared sporadically during Keith’s first season as boss, but his impact was still impressive. He bagged twice as we drew 2-2 with third-tier side Port Vale in the Coca Cola Cup, going through on away goals and setting up a two-legged tie against Everton. He was omitted from the squad for both games against the Premier League side. He came off the bench on November 2nd away at Carlisle and scored his last league goal for the club in a 3-3 draw, but it earned him a start in the FA Cup against Witton Albion a fortnight later. He scored in that game, a 2-0 win, but it was only a brief return to the side. He started his last game for City as we lost 1-0 at Doncaster in January 1994, and made his final appearance a week later from the bench in front of a meagre crowd of 2703 against Rochdale. At the end of the 93/94 campaign, he was released by the Imps. Personally, I was gutted and I recall him coming to Wragby Juniors presentation evening, where I clammed up when talking to him and just said ‘go to a good club’ before skulking off with a red face.

Credit LCFC

He was certainly a fan favourite, and was described by one fan in a copy of Deranged Ferret thus; “The biggest compliment I can pay him is that if he wasn’t a player I’m sure he’d be a supporter. In these days when players move from club to club at the drop of a hat and seem committed to only picking up wages, it was nice to see someone who actually enjoyed playing football.”

He briefly joined Peterborough United, playing a handful of games, before a successful move to Chesterfield, where he did regain his old form with 36 goals from 114 appearances. That led to a £15,000 move to Mansfield Town, and then a £30,000 transfer to Hartlepool United. Later in his career, he took up refereeing, and still living close to Lincoln he was a regular in the middle in the Lincoln Sunday League. He also served as Commercial Manager for Mansfield in 2007/08 having held a similar position at Chesterfield the season before. Last year, he was voted 37th best player of a generation by Stacey West readers.

That alone would be enough to warrant plenty of mentions on these pages, but since then he has become an inspiration to cancer sufferers by surviving multiple instances of lymphoma. The full story, which I couldn’t do justice to, can be found here. These days, he’s enjoying life and committed to helping others through his own experiences. You can read about Briteside here, you can read his blog here, or you can sponsor me to climb Scafell in aid of Briteside, and to help this inspirational hero here.

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