We Still Love You Even If Colchester Don’t Wardy

Colchester sacked manager John Ward  four days ago after a winless start saw 4 draws and four defeats in their opening 8 games. The Imps Lincolnshire rivals Scunthorpe dealt the last blow, with a 1-0 defeat.

Colchester United FC logo.svg

Wardie had conjured top-10 finishes in League 1 for the last two seasons after the U’s former assistant manager replaced Aidy Boothroyd when he left for Coventry.  He managed to get them up to third at one stage, but  7 wins and 9 draws from the remaining 29 games saw the U’s finish 10th.  Last season 13 wins, 20 draws and 13 defeats saw them again finish 10th.


Before we look back on a fantastic goal laden playing career here are John’s managerial stats.

Managed From To Record
G W L D Win %
York City 1 October 1991 1 March 1993 70 22 24 24 31.42
Bristol Rovers 1 August 1993 10 May 1996 181 77 49 55 42.50
Bristol City 27 March 1997 28 October 1998 84 38 27 19 45.23
Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 December 2000 3 January 2001 4 3 1 0 75.00
Cheltenham Town 6 November 2003 2 October 2007 207 76 77 54 36.71
Carlisle United 2 October 2007 3 November 2008 61 26 23 12 42.62
Colchester United 31 May 2010 24 September 2012 111 33 39 39 29.73
The Tale of the Tape 718 275 240 203 38.30


John Ward was a modern day centre forward with the versatility and ability to hit goals from all over the park. In the six-yard box he was deadly, every inch a Lincolnshire poacher from head to toe, going on to become our 4th top scorer of all time with 99 goals from 243 appearances. He had pace and grace but could compete when and where it mattered with an instinctive deadly first time finish. John Ward combined playing for the Imps reserve and ‘A’ sides with appearance for top Lincoln Sunday side Adelaide Park. The insurance boys would have none of that when he signed professionally in March 1971, but he failed to make an impact.  Incredibly he was almost lost to us completely when Herd loaned him to Workington in 1972 where he scored 3 goals in 11 appearances. Workington liked what they saw and made a bid. Fortunately, before any deal was struck David Herd got the boot and Graham recognizing the lads talent decided to keep. John would reward the faith with his first hat trick for the club in the spring against Stockport. John then never looked back

Scoring 17 in 73/74 and 13 in 74/75 reserving his career best for our record breaking 1975/76 Division 4 Championship season. He would deliver 29 League and Cup goals including 4 against Chesterfield and bagging 5 braces against Exeter, Swansea, Brentford, Doncaster, Newport. The people of Lincoln responded with huge gates. We had 14,096 V Donny (5-0) 13,880 V Northampton (3-1) 13,472 V Stoke (LC2 won 2-1) and 12,074 V Barnsley (2-1). There were 2 gates of eleven thousand, 2 of over ten 10,600, 4 gates of 8,000, 5 Gates 7,000k plus and 4 gates of 6,500 plus.

John stayed at the Imps after GT`s departure to Watford but sadly suffered an injury very early into the 1977/78 season. Opening with 4 goals in the first eight games, a broken leg kept him out of action for the rest of the season. He came back the following season but netted only 4 goals in 33 appearances for a struggling club. With typical gates of between 2.5k and 3k with the last 4 home games under 1900, it was no surprise to see us bottom. A fire sale saw Ward follow Sam Ellis and Dennis Booth to Taylor`s Watford for a fee of £15,000 in the summer of 1979. In total he netted just under 100 goals for the Imps (90 League and 9 Cup) for the Imps in 241 appearances, with his overall League and cup tally being 99 goals from 263 games, putting him fifth in the all-time Club goal scoring chart.


Following a brief spell with Grimsby Town, Ward returned for an even briefer stay at Sincil Bank under Colin Murphy, making one appearance in April 1982, but it he knew he was passed it and hung up his shooting boots returning to Watford in a coaching role. Three years later Graham Taylor appointed Ward as his assistant and the duo worked in tandem for the next six years both with Watford and Aston Villa. Ward was also followed Taylor to the national team.

In November 1991, Ward decided that it was his turn for a stab at management and he was appointed as manager of York City, again with the help of GT, who kindly had a word with the board and sealed the deal. It had been rumoured that he might return to Sincil Bank the year before but sadly Allan Clarke, one of our worst got the job (John Ward is a local lad and was also linked with the Imps prior to Schofield getting the job). Ward meanwhile guided York to promotion via the playoffs in his second year before Bristol Rovers made their move. He took the Pirates to the play-off final in 1995, losing at Wembley to Huddersfield Town. After a spell as assistant to Adrian Heath at Burnley, Ward returned to Bristol, this time with City. The playoff touch revived the Robins’ season as they too reached the play-offs. Brentford beat them but the following season Ward got his success. No playoffs were needed this time City gained automatic promotion.

Finding himself unduly unemployed Ward was then appointed as assistant to Wolves’ boss Colin Lee, who got the chop. Dave Jones retained him as his right-hand man at Molineux as they built a solid squad in readiness for the Premiership. John`s playoff touch did not let them down as they blunted the blades in May 2003. Despite helping Wolves finally achieve their goal of a return to the top flight, Ward left Molineux in the summer after a reshuffle. Cheltenham Town snapped him up on November 6th 2003 and yes you`ve guessed it he took them up via the play-offs battering the Cods in 2006. He kept them up the following season before Carlisle came knocking in October 2007. He guided the Cumbrians to the verge of the Championship with a play-off position in his first season in charge but a poor start to 2008/09 ensured he left by mutual consent on November 3rd 2008.

It was no secret that many Imps wanted to see John Ward join the Imps as manager as opposed to Chris Sutton. The rumour was that he does not want to return to the Imps for fear of failing in a place he still considers being his own back yard.  Instead he applied for jobs at Swindon and Port Vale (losing out to Micky Adams) prior to appointed as Stockport County’s assistant manager under Gary Ablett. He then moved to Colchester United to work under Aidy Boothroyd but stuck around after Aidy took the Coventry job.  He managed to get them up to third at one stage, but  7 wins and 9 draws from the remaining 29 games saw the U’s finish 10th.  Last season 13 wins, 20 draws and 13 defeats saw them again finish 10th.


Full Name: John Patrick Ward

Date Of Birth : 07/04/1951
Birthplace : Lincoln

LCFC career record : Apps : 263 ; Subs : 20 ; Goals : 99

Season 1970/1971 : Div4
Apps : 3 ; Subs : 1 ; Goals : 1
LCFC Debut : 27/03/1971, Workington (a) 1-2, FL Division 4
Scored in a 4-5 defefeat at home on 3/4/71.
Position 21st

Season 1971/1972 : Div4
Apps : 10 ; Subs : 3 ; Goals : 5
Braces: Brentford.
Highest Att 16,498 V Scunthorpe (1-0 and went 2nd) 15,856 V Cods (2-2), 12,199 Southend (0-0)
Typical Crowd 6000 – 3 over 7,500, 2 8K plus and 2 9k
Position 5th

Season 1972/1973 : Div4
Apps : 17 ; Subs : 4 ; Goals : 8
Hat trick Stockport
Braces Southport.
Highest Att 7,400 V Burnley had 5 gates over 6,000.
Typical crowd 4,000
Position 10th

Season 1973/1974 : Div4
Apps : 40 ; Subs : 2 ; Goals : 17
Highest Att 7,153 V Gillingham, 5 gates over 6,000
Typical crowd 2,500-4k
Position 11th

Season 1974/1975 : Div4
Apps : 37 ; Subs : 2 ; Goals : 13
Highest Att 13,108 V Mansfield
Typical gate 5,000 with 3 gates of 8k plus, 3 Gates 7k plus and 4 gates of 6k plus
Position 5th

Season 1975/1976 : Div4
Apps : 47 ; Subs : 5 ; Goals : 29
4`s Chesterfield
Braces Exeter, Swansea, Brentford, Doncaster, Newport.
Highest Atts: 14,096 V Donny (5-0) 13,880 V Northampton (3-1) 13,472 V Stoke (LC2 won 2-1) 12,074 V Barnsley (2-1), 2 gates of 11k plus, 2 10.5k plus, 4 gates of 8k plus, 5 Gates 7k plus and 4 gates of 6.5 k plus

Season 1976/1977 : Div3
Apps : 47 ; Subs : 1 ; Goals : 18
Braces V Chesterfield, Reading & Gillingham
6K Highest crowd 14,706 V Sheff Wed, 11,645 V Cods, 11,414 V Burnley
Typical gate – 2 gates 9k, 1 8k plus, 6 Gates 7k plus and 7 gates of 6.5 k plus
Position 8th

Season 1977/1978 : Div3
Apps : 8 ; Subs : 0 ; Goals : 4
Brace V Walsall
Highest Crowd 8,811 V Sheff Wed
Typical crowds 4k as we struggled most of the season with only 3 gates over 6k
Position 15th

Season 1978/1979 : Div3
Apps : 33 ; Subs : 2 ; Goals : 4
Highest Crowd Sheff Wed 7,007
Typical crowds 2.5k – 3k last 4 home games under 1900.
Position Bottom

Season 1981/1982 : Div3
Apps : 1 ; Subs : 0 ; Goals : 0
Highest Gates: Watford 8,763 LC 3R replay (lost 2-3), Huddersfield 8,243 (2-0)
Typical gate. 4k
Position 4th one point from a return to DIV 2, we were pipped by Fulham after a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage on the last day in front of 20,461.

Top 10 scorers of all time

1 Andy Graver (50/51-54/55,55/56,58/59-60/61) Apps : 289 ; Goals : 150
2 Johnny Campbell (33/34-38/39) Aps 198(0) Goals 110
3 Gordon Hobson (77/78-84/85,88/89-89/90 Aps 372 (14) Goals 105
4 John Ward (70/71-78/79,81/82) Aps 243 (20) Goals 99
5 Billy Dinsdale (26/27-30,30/31) Aps 136 Goals 103
6 Johnny Garvie (50/51-55/56) Aps 192 (0) Goals 80
7 Roy Chapman (57/58-60/61, 64/65-66/67) Aps 186 (1) Goals 81
8 Allan Hall (1931/32-1932/33) Aps 76 (0) Goals 68
9 Percy Freeman (70/71-72/73, 74/75-76/77 Aps 166 (15) Goals 76
10 Ernie Whittle (1949/50-1953/54 151 aps 64 goals


Posted on September 28, 2012, in Ex Imps, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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