Mitch Ward

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Mitch Ward
Personal information
Full name Mitchum David Ward[1]
Date of birth (1971-06-19) 19 June 1971 (age 43)[1]
Place of birth Sheffield, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
000?–1989 Sheffield United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1997 Sheffield United 154 (11)
1990 Crewe Alexandra (loan) 4 (1)
1997 Everton (loan) 1 (0)
1997–2000 Everton 23 (0)
2000–2003 Barnsley 77 (0)
2003–2004 York City 31 (0)
Total 290 (12)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Mitchum David "Mitch" Ward (born 19 June 1971) is an English former professional footballer who played in the Football League and Premier League for Sheffield United, Crewe Alexandra, Everton, Barnsley and York City.[2]

Career[edit]

Born in Sheffield, Ward started his career at his local club Sheffield United after graduating through the youth ranks. He was promoted to the first team alongside his best friend in professional football, left-winger Dane Whitehouse, who also enjoyed a consistent run in the first eleven. Despite Ward’s versatility he initially had a struggle on his hands to hold down a starting place each week and it was due to this fact that he continued to served his apprenticeship on loan with Dario Gradi’s Crewe Alexandra. Mitch played 7 times for Crewe Alexandra scoring once in the league and grabbing another in the Football League Cup.

Mitch returned to United full of confidence but was frustrated by former Blades manager Dave Bassett’s rotation policy, following a match with Watford in the First Division Ward scored twice yet still found himself on the bench for the following game. It could be argued that Ward’s inability to keep his place was not due to his form, more due to his versatility, something that would be as much a burden for Mitch as it would a strength, indeed throughout 7 years Ward had played in every area except goal. But for much of his time, when he was in the side, Mitch could be found roaming his favoured position, the right-wing before then Blades manager Howard Kendall (who had replaced Bassett in December 1995) converted the versatile pro into an all action full-back, it was in this position that Mitch played arguably his best football. During this time Mitch became known as a lethal penalty taker with a composure not often seen in a utility player. He spent 8 years in total with Sheff Utd before being sold to Howard Kendalls' Everton for £750,000 on 25 November 1997. Kendall had returned to the Toffees after missing out on promotion with the Blades and raided his former club not only for Ward but for United’s then record signing Don Hutchison and journeyman centre-back Carl Tiler.

Ward’s life in Liverpool was not so great, he got off to a bad start as he was on the losing side against Chelsea conceding a penalty in a 2-0 defeat only a day after signing. Following this nightmare start Ward toiled hard to make an impression in a lacklustre Everton side. But he only had a run of four games before picking up a hamstring injury. An unproductive come-back in February 1998 consisted of only another 4 matches before he finally succumbed to what was diagnosed as bad ankle ligament damage, however it would be another two months before the true problem was revealed, a fracture of the ankle. Mitch wouldn’t appear for the Toffees again until October 1998, by this time Howard Kendall had been replaced with former Rangers manager Walter Smith. Smith decided to bring Ward back into the cauldron of the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, Ward didn’t let him down, showing glimpses of a return to his previous excellent Sheff Utd form. Wards reward was the Captains armband the following season in an ill-fated Football League Cup tie against Oxford. Again injury was to keep Ward out for much of 1999-2000 season and it was no surprise when his name was linked with a return to Bramall Lane. Overall he made less than 30 appearances in a three year span, never finding the back of the net and with a quarter of them coming from the subs bench, his final game was an away match with Leeds United on 8 May 2000. He was eventually sold at the end of the 1999-2000 season to Barnsley for £200,000.

Mitch enjoyed his return to his Yorkshire roots and found a new lease of life in more central role, operating primarily in defensive midfield ironically under the tutelage of former manager Dave Bassett. Ward spent 3 years at Oakwell, a vital first team player before being released on a free and joining the youngest manager in the League, Chris Brass at York City.

Mitch was a popular player at Bootham Crescent, however he left before the end of his first and only season with the Minstermen over a contract dispute. Mitch played out his professional career with non-league outfit Altrincham whom he joined in 2004.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hugman, Barry J. (2005). The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946-2005. Queen Anne Press. p. 639. ISBN 1-85291-665-6. 
  2. ^ "Mitch Ward". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 

External links[edit]