Tony Springham: Tributes to a Stortford man regarded as a legend at the rugby club, the ultimate supporter at the cricket club and a servant of the Blues in their glory days
The funeral will take place on Thursday (August 19) of a stalwart of the sporting community in Bishop's Stortford who was loved, admired and respected at the town's rugby, cricket and football clubs.
Tony Springham was regarded as a legend at Silver Leys in particular and was honoured at the Bishop's Stortford Independent's 2019 Indies community awards in the Outstanding Achievement category after being nominated by the rugby club.
Although he died in Stortford's Conewood Manor care home in Dunmow Road on Friday August 6, his home was in Chantry Close, where he lived with the family of the youngest of his four sons, Jason. Tony was 91.
A spokesman for the rugby club said: "Tony – or Grandad, as he was affectionately known to his many friends at the club – was still actively volunteering, helping Tubby clean the club after busy weekends, until lockdown brought a premature end to the season in March 2020.
"If you visited midweek, you'd invariably find Tony armed with his trusty broom, sweeping the patio, clubhouse floor or changing rooms.
"He was an ever-present pre-match lunch guest and an avid follower of our first XV, often making the effort to travel to away games. His favourite was Plymouth, from where his late wife originated.
"He was also a regular visitor to, and supporter of, Stortford cricket club and the sadness of his passing will undoubtedly be felt there as well.
"He was a real character and one that everyone loved. He will be much missed."
Bishop's Stortford Cricket Club tweeted: "Tony was the kindest, most caring of men who always had a smile on his face. He was interested in everyone and always loved to stop and chat. The ultimate club supporter and helper, and we are proud to call him our friend. RIP Tony, we will all miss you."
Anthony Ernest Springham was born at Potter Street, Harlow, on April 19, 1930. Educated at St Michael's School in Stortford, he worked as a master plasterer and traded as A E Springham, later to become A E Springham and Son Ltd when he retired at 65.
Tony was married for more than 40 years to Pat, who worked part-time at his mother Elsie's business, the former Swan Restaurant in South Street. Pat died in March 1996, aged 67, leaving Tony a widower for 25 years.
The couple had four sons. The eldest, Russell, 68, is a brand consultant who lives in Perth in Australia. Neil, 66, of Newport in Essex, and Craig, 59, who lives in Stortford, both work in the building trade. Jason, 56, followed his father into plastering.
Tony and Pat had six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren in the UK: Kelly, 44, and her children Libby, 18, Jess, 16, Ryan, 13, and Toni, 2; Luka, 33, and her daughter Aliza, 2; Tabitha, 27; and Elsa, 30, Ben, 27, and Abby, 23. They also had two of each in Australia: Aaron, 34, and Georgia and her children Saoirse and Jesse.
Tony loved to play and watch many sports. A schoolboy swimming champion, he played football for Bishop's Stortford A and Rhodes Avenue and cricket for Hatfield Heath.
He was on the committee at Bishop's Stortford FC for many years – including when they won the FA Trophy at Wembley in 1981 – and later became honorary life president.
He started to attend and support the rugby club when grandson Aaron started playing.
His other love was horse racing and, before that, greyhound racing, when he owned greyhounds. He also had ownership in a couple of racehorses.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Jason said: "Dad was a great man and inspiration. He was loved and respected by everyone who knew him.
"He loved to support all his children and grandchildren in all their sports and activities, from cycling, football, rugby and swimming to performing on stage – he would always be there to watch them.
"He couldn't just sit around and get old. After retirement he liked to keep busy, either on a building site with his sons or up the rugby club helping to keep the place tidy."
Tony's funeral will take place at Cam Valley Crematorium, Great Chesterford, on Thursday (August 19) at 4pm. It will be followed from 5.15pm at Silver Leys by a celebration of his life. All who knew Tony are welcome at both venues.
Family flowers only; donations to cancer research via South Street funeral director Daniel Robinson & Sons.
Tributes to Tony on Twitter
"RIP Tony. A true blue and a top bloke" – club captain Sam Winter
"RIP big man, thank you for all you did" – assistant forwards coach Rob Faiers
"Very sad. Stortford man through and through. Great memories of him as far back as the early '70s" – Tim Connolly
"A true gentleman who will be sorely missed" – Grahame Smith
"Sad to hear of Tony’s passing. We’ll miss his dry sense of humour in the car on our away trips. Hope it's not the last we’ll hear of 'Come on you Bishops'. RIP Tony" – Bernard Hart
"Club legend & real nice guy. Sleep tight, Grandad" – Mark Davy