Thursday, 10 February 2011
280 Tony Ellis
Position : Forward
Played : 1999-2000 (initially on loan from Stockport) to 2000-01
Appearances : 59
Goals : 17
Tony was signed in November to try and break the goal drought that had afflicted us since the beginning of October. The 35-year old veteran began in non-league football with Northwich before Joe Royle took him to Oldham in 1986. Tony didn't score in his 8 appearances there but did enough to attract Preston who paid £23,000 for him the following year. Tony made his mark on the plastic scoring 27 goals in 86 appearances before a £250,000 move to Stoke in December 1989. Tony was hit by injuries there but still managed a respectable 19 goals in 77 games. In August 1992 he returned to Preston with Graham Shaw going back in the opposite direction. He hit top form again with 48 goals in 72 appearances and his titanic tussles with Alan Reeves (who came out on top of course ) are well-remembered from that period. He then fell out with manager John Beck over a new contract and moved camp to rivals Blackpool for £165,000. When Beck was sacked Tony used the speculation that he might return to get an improved deal at Bloomfield Road although he probably deserved it with 55 goals in 147 appearances. In December 1997 Bury signed him for £70,000 to help their survival bid in the First Division and he did the job with 12 goals in 38 games. In February 1999 he switched to Stockport for £25,000 but fell out of favour despite scoring 6 in 20 games.
Tony is probably the most charismatic player I've seen at Dale. He had an arrogant air about him but justified it on the pitch with his close control and ability to turn defenders at will. He looked a bit ring-rusty in his first couple of games but soon began to turn it on particularly when Graham Lancashire was alongside him and they formed a very dangerous partnership. Despite his age Tony was still very sharp in the box and started racking up the goals. My favourite was the one away at Peterborough where he received the ball with his back to goal and patiently turned his marker this way and that until he had enough of a sight to fire home in the far corner , the defender thumping the ground at being outfoxed. He finished the season top scorer with 11 goals.
I'll have to be careful how I put this but coming from the badlands of Salford Tony had some interesting drinking buddies and allegedly indulged in some entrepreneurial ventures in the club car park (think Arthur Daley rather than Howard Marks here).
He was signed up for the following season and started it well with 4 goals to the end of September but then age seemed to catch up with him. There were rumours that he didn't want to make the long journeys to away games and his quick recovery from an injury that kept him out of the Exeter game in November met with much scepticism. His last goal was the first in the televised game against Leyton Orient in January 2001 and I don't think he played after the mauling by Shrewsbury in February.
He was released in the summer and attracted much comment by moving up two divisions and signing for Burnley though in fact he never started for them and scored once in 10 games coming off the bench. He had short spells at Leigh RMI and Mossley before joining Hyde as player/coach in 2003 while also coaching at Burnley's centre of excellence. He scored 4 in an FA Cup tie against Hallam in 2003 and scored in his last appearance at 40 in 2005. In July 2007 he returned to us as head of youth development.