John Ward (footballer, born 1951)

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John Ward
John Ward 24-08-2013 1.jpg
Ward as manager of Bristol Rovers in 2013
Personal information
Full nameJohn Patrick Ward [1]
Date of birth (1951-04-07) 7 April 1951 (age 69) [1]
Place of birth Lincoln, England [1]
Position(s) Forward
Senior career*
1970–1979 Lincoln City 240 (91)
1972Workington (loan) 11 (3)
1979–1981 Watford 27 (6)
1981–1982 Grimsby Town 3 (0)
1982 Lincoln City 1 (0)
Teams managed
1991–1993 York City
1993–1996 Bristol Rovers
1997–1998 Bristol City
2000–2001 Wolverhampton Wanderers (caretaker)
2003–2007 Cheltenham Town
2007–2008 Carlisle United
2010–2012 Colchester United
2012–2014 Bristol Rovers
2015 Walsall (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

John Patrick Ward (born 7 April 1951) is an English football manager and retired player.


A forward during his playing days, Ward appeared in the Football League for Lincoln City, Workington, Watford and Grimsby Town, in which he scored 100 goals in 282 appearances. Having served under Graham Taylor at Watford and Aston Villa as assistant manager, he went on to manage York City and Bristol Rovers before being appointed as assistant at Burnley. Time in charge at Bristol City followed and he then served as assistant at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Ward went on to manage at Cheltenham Town, Carlisle United and Colchester United over a nine-year period before returning to Bristol Rovers, initially as manager before, briefly, becoming the club's Director of Football.

Playing career

As a player, Ward spent the bulk of his career as a forward at Lincoln City where he scored more than 100 goals between 1970 and 1979. He also had spells at Watford, Grimsby Town and Workington.

Managerial career

Following his retirement from playing, Ward was assistant manager to Graham Taylor at Watford from 1982 and then followed Taylor to Aston Villa in 1987. After Taylor became England manager in 1990, Ward remained at Villa for a further year and a half under Jozef Venglos and then Ron Atkinson.

York City

In late 1991, Ward heard that York City, then a struggling fourth division club, had just sacked their manager. He happened to mention to his former boss Taylor in a phone call that he felt York would be a good club to start his own managerial career at, and Taylor in turn contacted the York City board (who had been considering appointing Billy McEwan as manager) and recommended that they hire Ward, which they did. After his appointment, Ward turned York around and in the 1992–93 season and had them challenging for automatic promotion for much of the season. He left before the season ended, and promotion via the play-offs was achieved by his successor, Alan Little.

Bristol Rovers and City

He later managed both Bristol clubs, Bristol Rovers and Bristol City, and was assistant to Adrian Heath at Burnley.

In 1998 Ward became assistant manager to Colin Lee at Wolverhampton Wanderers. After Lee's departure, he had a brief spell as caretaker manager before reverting to assistant under Dave Jones. He helped the club win promotion to the Premier League in 2003 but left the club at the end of the season.

Cheltenham Town

Ward was appointed Cheltenham Town manager in November 2003 and in 2006 guided the club to promotion into League One.

Carlisle United

After keeping the Robins in League One the following season, he moved to Carlisle United in October 2007. [2] Ward guided the club to a play-off position in his first season in charge, despite this however, a poor start to the 2008–09 campaign saw him under heavy pressure to resign. [3] He was later given the backing of the Carlisle board. [4] However, he eventually parted company with the club by mutual consent on 3 November. [5]

Ward applied for the vacant Swindon Town managerial role in November after Maurice Malpas left the club by mutual consent. [6] He held preliminary talks with Port Vale over their managerial vacancy in May 2009, [7] and was the favourite for the job, [8] however lost out to Micky Adams. Ward was then appointed as Stockport County's assistant manager after the appointment of Gary Ablett as Stockport boss.

Colchester United

Ward became the assistant manager at Colchester United in September 2009 when Aidy Boothroyd was appointed as the club's manager. Boothroyd resigned from his position in May 2010 to join Coventry City which allowed Ward to take charge at the end of the month. [9] Colchester finished tenth in their 2010–11 League One campaign and were tenth again at the end of the following season. He was sacked in September 2012 after the club began the new season without a win in nine league and cup games, leaving them near the bottom of the table. [10] "So much of Colchester United is better than it has ever been," said chairman Robbie Cowling, "but sadly that is not being reflected in first team results." [10]

Second spell at Bristol Rovers

Ward was appointed as manager of Bristol Rovers for a second time in December 2012. [11] Having signed a contract until the end of the 2012–13 season, he succeeded Mark McGhee to become the club's fourth manager in two years. [12] Ward told BBC Radio Bristol that "I've got an affinity here that once I was asked to come and help I said yes." [12]

His first match in charge was on 26 December 2012, a 2–2 draw against Aldershot Town. Ward gained his first victory in charge in his second game winning 2–1 at home against local rivals Plymouth Argyle (he had looked set and was actually en route to become Director of Football at Argyle before being appointed by Rovers). Having taken over with Rovers second from bottom and in the relegation places from the Football League, he achieved a 50% win ratio, with 42 points from 23 games, to guide them to a comfortable mid-table finish for the 2012–13 season.

His second season in charge proved more difficult as Rovers again struggled for form despite being among the pre-season favourites. On 28 March 2014, Ward was replaced as manager by his assistant Darrell Clarke and took up the role of Director of Football at the club. [13] Following the club's relegation out of the Football League for the first time since their election in 1920, Ward was sacked as Director of Football, just 41 days into the role. [14]

Managerial statistics

As of 18 December 2015. [15]
York City 1 October 19911 March 199370222424031.43
Bristol Rovers 1 August 199310 May 1996155654248041.94
Bristol City 27 March 199728 October 199884381927045.24
Wolverhampton Wanderers (caretaker)18 December 20003 January 20014301075.00
Cheltenham Town 6 November 20032 October 2007207765477036.71
Carlisle United 2 October 20073 November 200862261323041.94
Colchester United 31 May 201024 September 2012111333939029.73
Bristol Rovers 17 December 201228 March 201469242124034.78
Walsall (caretaker)30 November 201518 December 20153210066.67



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  1. 1 2 3 "John Ward". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  2. "Ward handed Carlisle manager post". BBC Sport. 2 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  3. "Pressure builds on Carlisle boss". BBC Sport. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  4. "Carlisle owners give Ward backing". BBC Sport. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  5. "Carlisle part company with Ward". BBC Sport. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
  6. "Holloway could return to face Bristol Rovers". Bristol Evening Post. 16 November 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  7. "Ward a contender for Valiants job". BBC Sport. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  8. "Thursday's gossip column". BBC Sport. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  9. "John Ward named as Colchester United manager". BBC Sport. 31 May 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  10. 1 2 "John Ward sacked as Colchester United manager". BBC Sport. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  11. Perkins, Rob (17 December 2012). "John Ward takes over at Bristol Rovers". The Post. Bristol. Archived from the original on 19 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  12. 1 2 "John Ward: Bristol Rovers name ex-Colchester boss as manager". BBC Sport. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  13. "JOHN WARD BECOMES DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL". 28 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  14. "JOHN WARD SACKED FROM BRISTOL ROVERS". Bristol Rovers Official Website. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  15. "John Ward's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 21 July 2008.