A REFLECTION ON NICKY WARD’S CAREER
Nicky Ward was a part of the famous Bangor City side that managed to wrestle the Welsh Premier League title back to Farrar Road for the first time in 15 years in 2010/11, we took time out to speak to the former TNS man.
Ward begun his career in the football league with Shrewbusy, and faced off against some stellar opponents.
Getting my chance to play professional football was obviously a dream come true, making my home debut at home vs Crewe against the likes of Danny Murphy and Robbie Savage is still one of my favourite matches.
However, Ward spent the majority of the career in the Welsh Premier League with TNS, when he endured a seven year spell with the Oswestry-based club from 2000-2007. The midfielder spent time in the Welsh Premier League with TNS, Newtown, Bangor and Airbus, and enjoyed his experiences in the division.
I had some fantastic years in the Welsh Premier and was very fortunate to spend the majority of it playing full time for TNS, but also have fond memories of playing for Newtown.
The man himself won the Welsh Premier League title six times, the Welsh Cup and the Cymru Alliance during his career. He holds his honours during his playing career in high regard.
I’m very proud of my achievements in the Welsh premier, I worked extremely hard on a daily basis to make sure I was always able to give 100% in games and was lucky enough to be a part of quality sides that were very successful.
During his seven year span with TNS, he featured in Europe with the club and has some amazing experiences from their away days during their European adventures.
Europe was always an exciting experience, you worked hard all season for the opportunity to face top European opposition and test yourself at a higher level, playing against the likes of Liverpool and Man City in front of 40,000 people are memories I’ll cherish forever.
However, he holds his time with Bangor City as one of the best seasons of his career, and particularly notes their shock Welsh Premier League title win as one of the best wins of his career. Ward highlights the support of the Citizens’ as instrumental in their success during that famous season, in which they went 15 games unbeaten to start the season, a record which stood until very recently as TNS broke the record as they extended their 100% league record to 16 games.
Bangor City fans were and still are the best fans in the league, playing in front of them every week home and away was a pleasure and they gave you an extra 30% with their passion and support, to win the title in front of those fans on that final day was a fantastic feeling.
He even goes on to state how they made his one season with Neville Powell’s side the best year of his career, when pressed to state with which club he enjoyed playing with the most.
I’d struggle to choose between TNS and Bangor to be honest, I had many great seasons playing for TNS but for the sheer buzz of a crowd then Bangor just edges it!
Despite the buzz of the Bangor crowd, he claims the biggest inspiration of his career was by far and away his Grandad.
My Grandad was my inspiration; he played himself for Wrexham and Bournemouth so was always keen to get the ball out in the garden! I was still taking shots at him on the local field when he was nearly 80; such was his enthusiasm for football…will always be a hero to me!
After his time with Bangor City ended, he moved back to TNS for a single season and then had sporadic spells with Newtown, Conwy, Airbus amongst others before retiring in 2014.
He became assistant manager at Penycae, and soon took over the managerial role, and despite having it cut short due to time restraints, he enjoyed the experience.
Having the opportunity to manage was a great experience for me, being able to pass on my knowledge to the younger players and helping them develop was very satisfying. Unfortunately, work commitments cut my managerial time short which was a shame but was a great learning curve nonetheless.
Ward hasn’t managed since finishing at Penycae, however he still harbours the hope of managing again one day if the right opportunity arises.
I would love to manage again when the chance arises. I’ve learned so much over the years playing in great sides; I’ve tried to take the best bits from each manager I’ve played for and add those qualities to my own coaching style to hopefully give me the best chance of one day being successful as a manager myself.
Ward enjoyed his career, and is one of the Welsh Premier League icons having spent the majority of his career in the league. Having played with and against some of the division’s greats, his career has been an impressive one, and one of inspiration to many.
Nicky Ward’s One to Eleven:
Simon Spender(TNS) 3) Chris King(TNS) 4) Steve Evans(TNS) 5) Michael Johnson(Bangor City)
6) Ricky Evans(TNS) 7) Scott Ruscoe (TNS) 10) Darren Currie (SHREWSBURY) 11) John Toner(TNS)
Les Davies(Bangor City) Jamie Reed(Bangor City