A visit to the Granada newsroom in Media City is always an enjoyable experience. One person who was very welcoming was Tony, who grew up in Portsmouth which meant we always found time to share our great passion for Pompey FC.
Within minutes of catching up, he'd be reeling off all the Portsmouth matches he was planning to see in the North West or passing on details of the latest game he'd attended. He'd give me a blow by blow account of the full 90 minutes, rate the players, tell me which songs the Pompey supporters were singing, then burst into a quick 'Blue Army' chant (he sang it better than anyone else), then he'd remember he had the Granada Reports news programme to present, would make his excuses and head back to the studio. I'll really miss those chats - and chants.
Tony came from Leigh Park on the outskirts of Portsmouth - a place we both know very well. You learned to stand on your own two feet very quickly down there and he did just that. He was an inspiration to many people from many different backgrounds. He was also a very talented journalist and presenter. His work was recognised on a national and regional stage - from the prestigious BAFTA Awards through the Royal Television Society Awards.
But he was also very modest and while he loved that recognition from his peers, his family, work colleagues and the bond with the viewers in the North West meant much more.
I'll never forget how Tony worked closely alongside Lucy to present the flagship 6pm programme night after night in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing - an incredibly challenging period for everyone but despite all the emotion, their professionalism shone through. Away from the bright lights of the TV studio he also enjoyed taking part in podcasts. If you get the time listen to the 'From The North' podcast - which is produced by ITV News Granada - and find in the back catalogue a programme presented by Tony about suicide. It contains one of the most compelling interviews I've heard, all very sensitively handled.
I messaged Tony very recently to say that I'd just driven past Leigh Park, told him the sun was shining and all was looking good in his home town As the Pompey chimes ring out in the new season, they'll also ring out to remember one loyal supporter who'll be missing from the travelling blue army. We'll miss him enormously at ITV and so will our viewers who held him in the highest regard. Thank you for everything Tony.
Editor, ITV Regional News