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By Mark Ward

Mark Ward loved all of the trappings of luck as the most renowned and highly-rated correct wingers in soccer. "Wardy" proved an in a single day sensation at Oldham and persevered to be a celebrity at West Ham, guy urban, and Everton earlier than inspiring Birmingham urban to Wembley glory. but if his profession at the pitch ended, his existence quickly unraveled. After failed enterprise ventures and the cave in of his marriage to his adolescence sweetheart he ended up unemployed—and determined. Ward positioned his identify to a condominium contract on a home close to Liverpool that used to be utilized by others to stash medicinal drugs. while the police raided they discovered a medicine manufacturing unit. He pleaded in charge to dealing and used to be despatched to Liverpool's infamous Walton felony. His existence may by no means be an identical. through the years he spent within he has been in a position to consider a unprecedented enjoying profession and an both eventful lifestyles off the pitch. He recounts in heart-wrenching element his highs and lows and tells it love it is with honesty that epitomized his enjoying career.

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I don’t have lots of mementoes from my taking part in occupation yet I do nonetheless have a duplicate of the Northwich Guardian’s memento cup ultimate distinct and the membership who gave me a path again into league soccer will continually have a spot in my middle. earlier than the beginning of the 1983-84 season I bought a cellphone name at domestic. It was once the decision I’d been awaiting – from a mythical centre-forward who I knew all approximately as a former Everton and England famous person. He used to be through then a tender, up and coming soccer League supervisor and he desired to join up for a talk in a Liverpool pub. His identify used to be Joe Royle, the boss of Oldham Athletic. 7. BAKER’S BOY wasting DOUGH OUR Billy was once good into boxing and I’d determine with him and the opposite lads on the Whiston Higherside ABC Boxing membership in my efforts to be as healthy as attainable sooner than the beginning of the 1983-84 season. Their health regime used to be very gruelling and even though I struggled to maintain with the others within the fitness center, I caught at it simply because I knew it was once certainly making me enhanced. Billy stored himself very healthy and I’d paintings at the pads and the baggage in among a few very strenuous routines. yet I’d relatively wait for the road-run on the finish of the consultation, realizing that not one of the boxers may get close to me whilst it got here to working. Boxing instilled self-discipline in Billy and, like a few of the lads on the gymnasium who additionally had a name for buying into difficulty, the paintings of boxing without doubt helped to maintain them at the directly and slender. all through our formative years we’d compete opposed to one another. Being simply over 9 months older than Billy, I’d supply him a head-start each time we raced jointly. Dad might set Billy off from our residence mins prior to me. the standard path was once over and a part miles throughout the streets the place we lived. We’d raced opposed to one another time and again and I’d regularly controlled to reel my brother in prior to completing again domestic. yet there has been one memorable celebration while he obtained the higher of me. i used to be tanking alongside, watching for Billy to seem in his ordinary position on a protracted stretch of street approximately half of 1 mile from the end. yet, to my amazement, he was once nowhere in sight. Had he long past swifter than ever ahead of or had I taken it too effortless? With so little distance left during which to trap him, I realised he’d performed me for the 1st time. I approached our residence confident that I’d accomplished my quickest attainable run, so how the heck had he overwhelmed me? virtually breathless, I entered the home and was once surprised to discover Billy sat with my Dad. ‘What stored you? ’ my brother requested, with a boastful grin on his face. Dad joined in, giggling and ribbing me for having ultimately misplaced out in a race opposed to my brother. I sat outdoor within the backyard for your time feeling totally devastated. Dad and Billy permit me sulk for an excellent hour ahead of admitting the reality. simply after Billy had left our road, he flagged down John Ashton, a lad we either knew who lived within the subsequent street. He jumped into John’s work’s van and sped off, leaving me in sizzling pursuit of the Invisible guy. Cruelly, they my development round the streets and, with nice timing, handed me within the nick of time to let Billy to reach again at domestic with no need expended an oz. of attempt.

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