The Hearts player was an intelligent, technical striker who was privileged to play alongside the best but also suffered by trying to overcome the best at both club and international level.
Ford, now 67, started his senior career with a Hearts side that lost the league on goal average to Kilmarnock in 1965. ''It all went downhill after my first season,'' he says with a wry self-deprecation.
In truth, Ford was fated to play for a Hearts team that underachieved but the centre-forward found both goals and recognition. His gently spoken gratitude for a spell at Tynecastle from 1964 to 1976 is underpinned by a genuine realisation that this was the best of times.
Ford now views the world, most specifically Scottish golf courses, through a lens but his experience before and after football has given him a distance that lends weight to his views.
When Ford walked away from football after a knee injury cut short a spell at Falkirk, he returned to his accountancy business. It was large enough to employ 12 people and big enough to cause him sleepless nights. "There were more and more regulations coming in and I was losing personal contact with my clients. It was all beginning to affect me, so I sold it," he says with the finality he once reserved for banging the ball into the net.
His wife, Carol, suggested he should try to pursue his interest in photography. Ford now has a business that specialises in capturing the landscapes of Scotland, particularly golf courses. His golf calendar sells 25,000 copies a year.
This is a "second life" that is denied to some former footballers who live on pensions and dreams and Ford knows he is blessed.
"I love this," he says, "but I never had any regrets about my career. Well, maybe just a wee one." This minor quibble concerns the World Cup of 1974.
Ford, born in Linlithgow, was a clever, swift player whose runs alternately irritated and confounded centre-halves. He won three Scotland caps. These may constitute one of the great achievements in Scottish football when his rivals are considered. Ford went to the World Cup in 1974 as one of four strikers. The others? Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish and Joe Jordan.
This brings the conversation to the matter of regret. "It might seem daft to say it now, given the strength of the other forwards, but I was slightly disappointed not to come on as a substitute against Zaire,'' he says of Scotland's first group game that ended in a 2-0 victory.
"Willie Ormond [the manager] had used me as a substitute in previous matches and I felt I had done well. I looked at the big defenders in the Zaire defence and I though my pace would have caused them problems."
It was not to be. The two-goal margin was to cost Scotland as two draws against Brazil and Yugoslavia saw them go home on goal difference. Ford, marooned in a mediocre Hearts team, was never close to glory again.
He looks at the reformed landscape of the football nation with a barely concealed annoyance. Ford was in an international squad that also included Danny McGrain, Sandy Jardine, Jimmy Johnstone, and Gordon McQueen but now Scotland cannot beat Macedonia at home.
"The reasons are straightforward," he says. "The people running Scottish football were not prepared for the drought that came when the young boys who played on the streets stopped coming through. The teachers' dispute and the fact that children have more things to do also obviously contribute but there is a problem about the way children are coached.
"Everything seems to be into feet. Defenders now have it easy. They can be playing against just one striker and the movement at set pieces is poor to non-existent. I had to create space for goals by being alert, looking for the runs and hoping that a team-mate would knock the ball into space instead of straight to me."
Ford scored 93 goals in his career at Hearts and that has found him a place in many of the selections featured in Gary Mackay's Dream Team, a book that celebrates the Tynecastle club and places the golf course photographer in illustrious company.
Told that First Minister Alex Salmond had selected him, he replied: "Ach, that is just because he is a Linlithgow laddie like myself."
He is more serious about the prospects for the Scottish season. He played for a Hearts team that lost a title by a whisker and he battled against a great Hibernian side that won too little. Is there any chance of a challenge to Celtic this season, particularly given the champions' unconvincing start to the campaign?
"It would be great if Hearts, Hibs or Motherwell could step up and the playing field is now slightly more level but Celtic have a strong squad and, more importantly, the wherewithal to add to this in the transfer window," he says.
"The Hibs team of the 1970s would give anyone a game in terms of ability. I do not know why they did not win more," he says. He pauses before answering his question. "It must be remembered they were up against the Celtic team of the late sixties and early seventies. They were brilliant."
Rangers, too, won a European Cup-winners' Cup in 1972, the same year as the great Hibs team of John Brownlie, Pat Stanton, Alex Edwards, Jim O'Rourke, Alan Gordon and Alex Cropley won the League Cup, the sole triumph for a team of many talents and managed by the great Eddie Turnbull.
He believes both Rangers and Celtic may continue to show signs of a lack of motivation in domestic matches this season.
"It is not a conscious decision on the part of players," he says, "but Rangers players will think: 'Hey, this is just Peterhead and we should beat them'. Celtic players must be distracted by the immense challenge of the Champions League."
But he pointed out that both Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon faced a similar problem in fielding teams that were fully focused. "They will do it," he says. "But the best manager I ever had for preparing a team to be ready at three o'clock was Jock Wallace."
Now there's a picture.
* Gary Mackay's Hearts Dream Team is published by Black & White Publishing at £16.99
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