Anthony Joseph "Tony" Ellis (born October 20 1964 in Salford, Lancashire) is a former English football player who commanded combined transfer fees of nearly £750,000 and scored 185 league goals in 518 league games during a sixteen-year Football League career.
Oldham and Preston
Signed in August 1986 at the age of 21 by Joe Royle
for Oldham Athletic
(10 games 0 goals) after spells with non-league Horwich RMI
and Northwich Victoria
, Ellis was spotted by Preston North End
manager John McGrath
banging in the goals for Oldham's reserve team. McGrath decided to pay £23,000 in October 1987 to take Ellis to Deepdale
, where he scored a last-minute winner on his debut against Port Vale
In a little over two seasons with Preston, Ellis scored 32 goals in 106 games before Alan Ball
at Stoke City
tabled a £250,000 offer for him.
For Preston, the money was too good to turn down, and Ellis found himself leaving for the Victoria Ground
in December 1989. His time at Stoke was disrupted by injury, but in two and a half years he scored 20 goals in 93 first-team appearances.
Back at Preston
In August 1992, Preston came back for him, paying Stoke £150,000 plus striker Graham Shaw
. His second spell at Preston was even more productive than his first: Ellis scored 56 goals in only 88 games and was named the club's official player of the year
in 1992/93 and 1993/94. One of the highlights of his second spell was a hat-trick
against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road
in a 3-2
win by Preston. His final game for the Lilywhites turned out to be Preston's 1994 play-off final defeat against Wycombe Wanderers
After a much-publicised fall out with Preston boss John Beck
over a new contract and his role within the club, Ellis signed for arch-rivals Blackpool
for £165,000. However in November 1995 Ellis handed in a transfer request fueling rumours of a return to Deepdale, by now managed by Gary Peters
. Blackpool got around this problem by offering Ellis an extension to his contract.
In three and a half years at Bloomfield Road
, Ellis scored 65 goals in 173 games.
In December 1997, Ellis was on the move again, this time to Bury
for £70,000. He scored 12 goals in 38 games at Gigg Lane
Further spells at Stockport County
(a £25,000 price tag and 6 goals in 23 games) and Rochdale
(free transfer and 18 goals in 68 games) only further enhanced Ellis' now-legendary goalscoring reputation. After being released by Rochdale at the end of the 2000-01 season, Ellis found himself without a club and semi-retirement and a return to non-league football looked likely until Burnley
boss Stan Ternent
offered him a lifeline. In his only season at Turf Moor
, Ellis played ten games, all as a substitute, scoring at the age of 37 an excellent winner against Bradford City
in a 3-2 win at Valley Parade
, his only goal for the club.
Non-league and management
After leaving Burnley at the end of the 2001-02 season, Ellis joined Leigh RMI
(formerly Horwich RMI) in the Nationwide Conference
. During his first class career Ellis had scored 210 goals in 609 first team games.
In 2003-04 Ellis took on the role as player/assistant manager of Nationwide Conference North club Hyde United after a spell with Unibond League side Mossley.
Ellis also took on the role of coaching the Burnley under-15s at the Turf Moor club's Centre of Excellence.
In the July 2007, Ellis left his position as assistant manager of Hyde United and coach of the youth teams at Turf Moor to join former teammate, Rochdale manager Keith Hill, as Director of Youth Development.