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Mitch Ward   FACTS 
Born Sheffield, 19 June 1971
Height  5' - 8" (173 cm) 
Joined Everton  from Sheffield United in November 1997 (750,000*
Debut  v Chelsea (a), 26 November 1997 
Nicknames  Wardie, Barrel (!)
Final v Leeds United (a), 8 May 2000
Left Everton to join Barnsley in July 2000 (~200k)

Visit the Mitch Ward
, by
Jonny Abrams

Seasons  Club  Apps (Lg + Cup) Gls 
1989-1998 Sheffield United  137 (19) + 17 (6) 11 + 5
1989-1990  Crewe Alexandra (on Loan) 4 + 3 1 + 1
*Nominal value (Part of a swap deal with Carl Tiler in exchange for Graham Stuart and 500,000)
  • Versatile 
  • Good crossing ability 
  • Demon penalty-taker 
  • First division journeyman 
  • Tends to be anonymous
Mitch Ward was firmly established as a first-choice senior player for First Division Sheffield United, and perhaps one of their most consistent players in the previous two seasons when he was brought to Goodison by Howard Kendall. 

A versatile player who has progressed through the ranks with Sheffield United, the arrival of Howard Kendall at Bramhall Lane was a turning point for the local boy who perhaps wondered if his future lay elsewhere. 

Under Dave Bassett, Ward looked out-of-sorts and was made available for transfer.  However, he soon blossomed under Kendall's leadership, establishing himself as a key member of the side.  He added dependability to his knack of doing a good job almost anywhere on the field.  Ward has played at right-back, on the right-wing, in central midfield and even at left-back. 

Mitch Ward now has around 180 League starts to his credit and at the start of 1997-98 season he had a 100% success rate from the penalty spot – a testimony to his nerve and accurate kicking. 

Ward was one of the best crossers of the ball at the Blades, even though he often swapped an orthodox wingers' role for that of a deeper-lying midfielder, and has occupied those roles on both sides of the park in recent seasons. 

He joined Everton at a dismal time when they were at the bottom of the Premiership and looking for something to inspire a revival.  Ward almost produced that in his debut at Chelsea, with a superb cross that Ferguson headed onto a post.  Ward them blotted his copy-book by upending di Matteo to give away the first of two late penalties that stuck the Toffees firmly to the foot of the table. 

Since that inauspicious start, Mitch has laboured hard to make an impression in a lack-lustre midfield. But he only had a run of four games before picking up a hamstring injury.  An abortive come-back in February 1998 consisted of only another 4 matches before he finally succumbed to what was diagnosed as bad ankle ligament damage.  It took another two months before the true problem was revealed: a fracture. 

Mitch was out until October 1998, when he made a surprise comeback as a substitute in the Goodison derby.  Some wondered if this was just an opportunity for Walter Smith to put him in the shop window as he knows he must trim the squad before he can buy again.  However, Mitch was not one of the first five non-performers offered up for transfer by Walter Smith at the end of his disappointing first season, and he was handed a few chances to run out for the Blues in the early matches of the 1999-2000 season.

In some of those matches, Mitch Ward actually did quite well, only to be "rewarded" with the captaincy of a severely depleted rotational side in the ill-fated Worthington Cup tie against Oxford United.  Subsequent injury kept him out of the side for a large part of the season, and the usual rumblings about a return to The Blades started up again.  But the move in the end came to Yorkshire rivals, Barnsley.  Mitch Ward is unlikely to be remembered as one of Goodison's Greats...

Season  Squad
1997-98 21 8 (-) - - (-) - 8 (-) -
1998-99 21 4 (2) - 3 (-) - 7 (2) -
1999-2k 21 6 (4) - 1 (1) - 7 (5) -

Totals:  18 (6)  -  4 (1) -  22 (7)  - 


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