John Ward – Goal Machine & Managerial Marvel

John Ward, legend at Lincoln and manager of York City, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham Town. A goal machine as a player he already has 3 promotions on his managerial CV. He is currently enjoying his second spell as manager of Bristol Rovers where you would not bet against him doing it again. Wardy this is your life….a playing bio followed by the managerial highs and lows of a legendary Lincoln born and bred goal machine!

Thank-you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs 

While you, dear reader and fellow fan, are pouring yourself a hard earned post toil drink, or reviving, healthy smoothie, and still able to deal with figure’s, let us kick off with a stat-attack, before kicking back and attempting to do justice to a gentleman of the game who takes its attacking virtues to heart.

STMI Biopic
Full name John Patrick Ward
Date of birth 7 April 1951 (age 62)
Place of birth Lincoln, England
Playing position Forward
Current  Job
Current club Bristol Rovers (manager)
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1970–1979 Lincoln City 263 (99)
1972 Workington (loan) 11 (3)
1979–1981 Watford 27 (6)
1981–1982 Grimsby Town 3 (0)
1982 Lincoln City 1 (0)
The Managerial Record so far……………
Club From To Record
G W D L Win %
York City 1/10/91 1/3/93 70 22 24 24 31.43
Bristol Rovers 1/8/93 10/5/96 155 65 42 48 41.94
Bristol City 27/3/97 28/10/98 84 38 19 27 45.24
Wolverhampton Wanderers 18/12/00 3/1/01 4 3 0 1 75.00
Cheltenham Town 6/11/03 2/10/7 207 76 54 77 36.71
Carlisle United 2/10/07 3/11/08 62 26 13 23 41.94
Colchester United 31/5/10 24/9/12 111 33 39 39 29.73
Bristol Rovers 17/12/12 Present 24 12 6 6 50.00
Total Tale  of the tape 715 274 196 245 38.32

The Player

‘Wardy’ the pro, an Imp born and bred, was an archetypal modern Lincolnshire poacher and predator, pouncing from all over the park. In the six-yard box he was deadly, every inch a goal machine from head to toe. John, found the space, he had pace and grace, but in the penalty box, where time and  desperate last ditch defence favours the enemy he could compete and defeat.  The goal machine has the presence, when and where it matters and, Wardy certainly had that instinct.  With goals the lifeblood of the peopl’s game, his deadly first touch and devastating awareness and flawless finish, wooed the Railway end and kick-started many a Clanford roar.

John Ward, could not get enough of the game, like most centre-forwards, love is the drug, the buzz of banging them in, putting the predator almost into hybernation the wrong side of the match whistle. Incredibly he 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 and he drifted, missing the 100 plus hauls he had enjoyed since he had first donned a pair of boots.

He was almost lost to Lincoln City when manager Herd loaned him to Workington in 1972. Almost a pale shadow, he started to click,  notching 3 goals in 11 appearances. Workington, saw something in the 20-year-old, not seen as tough enough by Herd, and made a bid. Fortunately, before any deal was struck David Herd got the boot and entiser Graham Taylor, recognizing the lads talent, knocked it back and positively charmed the lad back into the Imp fold.  John would reward the faith with his first hat trick for the club in the spring against Stockport.

John then never looked back. Wardy ‘walloped, caressed and proved he was blessed with 17 goals in 73/74 and 13 in 74/75, reserving his career best for our record breaking 1975/76 Division 4 Championship season.  John Ward scored 29 League and Cup goals including 4 against Chesterfield.  At the double the bagged 5 braces against Exeter, Swansea, Brentford, Doncaster, Newport.  Impdom beamed with pride in their free-scoring side with huge gates considering the size of the city at the time (65-70,000). We had 14,096 V Doncaster Rovery (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, 4 gates of eight, 5 of seven 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, John 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.


John went to work on his coaching badges, juggling the youth, reserve and striker training responsibilities with his studies. Three years later, Graham Taylor, knew he was ready to take the next step and appointed Wardy as his assistant. The duo worked in tandem for the next six years, firstly at Watford, then Aston Villa and finally the national team. In November 1991, John reluctantly in some ways, decided that it was his turn for a stab at management.  Taylor understood and even paved the way with a word with the York City board, which sealed the deal.

There had been a rumour that the Imps were to be his first post during the previous season, but sadly Allan Clarke, one of our worst managers ever, got the job. John Ward was also linked with the Imps prior to Schofield getting the job in 2006/7.  There is truth in his reluctance to return to Lincoln.  He has also been quoted as saying, that he does not want to ruin the fairytale memory of his time with the club by coming back and letting his former peers down. He is after all Lincoln born and bred with family, friends and contacts within the City and County.

Wardy, meanwhile, guided York to promotion via the play-offs in his second year, before Bristol Rovers made their move, to establish some new West Country roots. John subsequently 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, Wardy returned to Bristol, this time with City. The play-off touch revived the Robins’ season as they too reached the post season sudden death phase of the campaign. Brentford beat them but the following season Ward got his success. No play-offs 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 play-off 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. John unsuccessfully applied for jobs at Swindon and Port Vale (losing out to Micky Adams) prior to being appointed as Gary Ablett’s assistant at Stockport County .

John then moved to Colchester United to work under Aidy Boothroyd but stuck around after Aidy took the Coventry job. Wardy guided United to 10th in League 1  in 20010/11 but was sacked, the following September, after no wins in 9.  The Chairman acknowledged that there had been improvement everywhere but on the pitch, which in football is all that really matters. He was back in work in the December when Bristol Rovers engaged him until the end of the season for a fire-fighting second term.   John turned down the job as Director of Football at Plymouth when he replaced Mark McGee, Rovers 4th manager in two seasons   His 42 points from 23 games saw a 50% win rate gave them the gas to go from second bottom to mid-table security. Hope you keep that record going and help Rovers to get closer to where they belong Wardy.  The potential of the club is fantastic – it wasn’t that long ago (2006/7) that they took 30,000 to the Trophy Final and 40,000 to Wembley for the play-off final in the same season

Johns seasonal stats at Lincoln

LCFC career record :

4th highest scorer of all time.

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 July 1, 2013, in Ex Imps, Uncategorized, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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