My son Anthony was named after Anthony Mason, possibly, probably, definitely the person l admire most throughout my seventy years.
Anthony as a young lad had the world at his feet, as he was a great looking curly haired child, forever mischievous with a wicked, naughty sense of humour and as his illness grew he never once complained.
One day l was going to Hammersmith hospital to lodge an appeal against the doctor who was treating him when five minutes away he begged me to forget it, that was Anthony, as he said: “Al, it’s not his fault, he’s been good to me” and l granted his only wish, as l only wanted what was best for him.
He will forever be special to all of our family and for me there was nothing l wouldn’t do for him.
He said one day, “You keep talking about the USA and l’ve never been” not asking to go at all…
I took him to Tampa Bay and while we sitting at Miami Airport on our way home a young kid came and asked for his autograph misjudging him for one of those great big people on TV.
He signed his only ever autograph and the young boy ran back happily to his family, thrilled.
Anthony looked at me as much as to say….
Anthony had a disease that l cannot and did not want to know about where all of a sudden he grew bigger and bigger but as big as he grew it never reached the size of his incredible personality – nowhere near it.
He left us a few years back after telling his young nephew that, “I can’t take no more” something that only he will know about, but l know it must have been quite something.
Our family has never been the same.
He lived with me in Stoke and became legendary, not because of his incredible size but his incredible zest and understanding of life.
He was smart.
He was simple.
All he asked for was a bet on the horses.
That was, apart from making people laugh, his life.
When l began this fight against the FA something was missing and that was Anthony Mason, who l know would have said to me: “Al, go and give them what you gave West Germany and Liverpool,” and l would have become more certain that l was fighting my corner for all the right reasons.
Anthony is and has always been with me but as l look at this latest battle l know he’ll be screaming for me to take it all the way.
If for some unforseen reason l fail l know l will still be right in doing what l am doing and l know that he’ll be in my corner.
I wrote in The Working Man’s Ballet that: ‘My cousin Anthony Mason is my hero’ and l only hope that l can become his, although deep down l didn’t need him telling me l already was!