There was more sad news for Carlisle United Football Club on Thursday evening when we were informed that our dear friend Tony Bingley had passed away.
Tony, 82, was a huge supporter of the club and worked part-time, full-time and in a voluntary capacity in a number of roles for close to 40 years for the Blues.
A proud Yorkshireman he became an adopted Cumbrian on his move to Carlisle, and an invaluable member of the backroom team at Brunton Park, first forging sponsorship and partnership links with businesses across the county before joining the 1921 board as commercial director.
Chairman Andrew Jenkins said: “This is such a sad loss, we are all devastated at the club, because Tony was first and foremost a friend to everyone.
“He would go out of his way to help and offer advice, even after he had retired. People may not know that he gave up two or three mornings a week to pop in and look after things like vehicle servicing and documentation schedules, and to help with bits and pieces in our commercial department until just a few years ago.
“He was an infectious character because of his bright and positive attitude, and the way he dealt with people opened doors. The role of commercial director was a perfect fit for him and he was a huge part of driving the club forward in that area.
“Away from the club his passion was motorbikes, and he would travel far and wide to watch and help with some of the biggest races on the circuit. In his younger days he was a racer, and some of the stories he had were fascinating to listen to.
“One particular crash left him very badly injured, but that didn’t dull the enthusiasm he had for the sport in any way. He saw it as part of the risk of being involved.
“We will miss him. He loved the club, he was part of Carlisle United for so many years, and it will be very strange not to hear his voice in the boardroom and to see him cheering the lads on during games.
“Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this very sad time.”
Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “Tony always brightened your day whenever he was around. He was a pleasure to be with and get to know.
“We spent many hours together talking about bike racing and his exploits. It was fascinating hearing him talk about 100mph laps at the TT in the 1990’s.
“The impact of his massive racing accident at Oliver’s Mount affected him physically but it never slowed him down. He continued to volunteer to help within the club even as his mobility reduced in recent years. He will be very sadly missed by us all.”
Manager Paul Simpson said: “It’s hard to put into words how much of a sad loss this is for us at the club and, of course, for his family and friends.
“He had such an enthusiastic approach to everything he did, and that came across in the work he did here at Brunton Park.
“I had many conversations with him about his racing history and, as you might imagine with a sport like that, his stories were fascinating to listen to.
“He was brilliant in the role he played for the club because he was a person who liked to get results. He did that with a smile on his face and with a kind word, and that’s why he tended to get successful outcomes.
“People wanted to help him not because of who he was, or who he worked for, but because of how he was with them.
“Since coming back to the club in February I’ve mentioned to quite a few people that he’s been a big miss for me. He used to be somebody I could go to through my first spell here, but unfortunately he hasn’t been well enough to come in.
“He’ll be sorely missed and my thoughts are with his loved ones.”
Lottery manager Ewan Wood said: “The first time I met Tony he came into a shop I managed as a very irate customer wanting to return a ‘faulty’ product and demanding a refund. His car sales team at Lloyd Motors would never give such bad service, he shouted! I could tell I wasn’t going to win so gave him his cash and he left.
“A couple of years later I had my interview for the lottery manager position in the boardroom at Brunton Park. Imagine my horror on entering the room and spotting the ‘irate customer’ waiting to fire questions at me.
“That’s my chance of a job gone, I thought! Tony did bring up our previous encounter in the interview and told me how well I’d handled the situation. I got the job and from that day we became best of friends.
“Tony was a very supportive colleague, always going out of his way to help anyone around the club, including dressing up as Santa at the Junior Blues Christmas parties. He had a great sense of humour but his jokes were terrible!
“He spent most of his working life in the motor industry and always had a tale to tell about his days at Leyland truck and bus, and how he’d make money when driving coaches on the continent.
“Tony hadn’t enjoyed the best of health recently and hadn’t been to a game for a while, but it was always nice to have a cuppa and catch up in his garage/hideaway.
“Sadly we’ve lost another gentleman and wonderful friend, and our thoughts are with Irene and all the family.”
Media officer Andy Hall said: “Tony used to ‘hot-desk’ in the media department when he came into the office through recent years, and we became friends as we debated everything from politics to the weekend results as we both cracked on with the work to be done.
“He was just a real character. He had his opinion, but he would listen and argue. His contacts around the area often led to new commercial opportunities being realised, and he gave up his time regularly to be at the club whenever he felt something needed doing.
“My favourite personal story was when I was in the military, and we had a low-risk safety task to do ahead of a major motorbike racing event along the North Antrim coast. I was just finishing off when I looked up and saw Tony walking towards me.
“He said, ‘I was just speaking to my colleagues about the fact that I work with a lad at Carlisle United who is in the army, and wouldn’t it be funny if he was here - and here you are!’
“He went everywhere to help with and watch the bike races, and he spent the next hour showing us around behind the scenes.
“We’ll all miss him.”
Rest in Peace Tony, love from us all.
Thank you to Newsquest and to Barbara Abbott (@Bumblepics) for the images shown in this article.