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Ashley Ward
Personal information
Full name Ashley Stuart Ward
Date of birth (1970-11-24) 24 November 1970 (age 53)
Place of birth Middleton, Lancashire, England
Playing position Forward
Youth career
Cheadle Town
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1991 Manchester City 1 (0)
1991 Wrexham (loan) 4 (2)
1991–1992 Leicester City 10 (0)
1992 Blackpool (loan) 2 (1)
1992–1994 Crewe Alexandra 61 (25)
1994–1996 Norwich City 53 (18)
1996–1997 Derby County 40 (9)
1997–1998 Barnsley 46 (20)
1998–2000 Blackburn Rovers 54 (13)
2000–2003 Bradford City 84 (17)
2003–2005 Sheffield United 33 (5)
Total 388 (110)
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Ashley Ward (born 24 November 1970) is an English former professional footballer who played as a centre forward.

Having come through the Manchester City academy, he notably played in the Premier League for Norwich City, Derby County, Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers and Bradford City, as well as in the Football League with Wrexham, Leicester City, Crewe Alexandra and Sheffield United.

Early life

Ward was born in Middleton, Lancashire, the son of a coal mining engineer. He attended William Hulme's Grammar School, which opted for rugby and lacrosse as the school sports over football.

Football career

Ward had a spell with Manchester United in the 1986–87 season, making 16 appearances for the club's Junior B team. He then played for Cheadle Town Youth, and chose to become an apprentice at Manchester City above an offer from Blackburn Rovers.

He then played for Leicester City before a move to Crewe Alexandra, where he made his name. At the start of the 1992-93 season, Craig Hignett and Tony Naylor were a prolific strike partnership but after Hignett was signed by Middlesbrough, Ward began to feature. He made his Crewe debut in an EFL Trophy match against Wrexham at Gresty Road on 8 December 1992, and scored his first Crewe goal in a 1-1 draw against Rochdale on 12 March 1993, then adding five more before the season finished. In the following injury-affected season, he scored 13 goals in 24 appearances, including the final-day winner at Chester City that earned Crewe promotion from the third tier. He started the 1994-1995 season with three goals in Crewe's first five fixtures, added four more in four appearances in October, then scored in six consecutive games for Crewe, including two hat-tricks (against Gresley Rovers in the FA Cup, and Chester City in the EFL Trophy).

Ward was then signed by Norwich City for £350,000 in December 1994. On his Canaries debut, he scored two first-half goals against Chelsea, then made it three goals in two games, scoring at Crystal Palace. He scored eight times in 25 appearances in total before the season finished; he then added another 10 league and three League Cup goals before a move to Derby County in March 1996.

Ward contributed to Derby's 1996-97 Premier League campaign, scoring a late winner against Chelsea. One of his other goals came as Derby beat Manchester United 3–2 at Old Trafford. Barnsley signed Ward from Derby County in September 1997, shortly after their promotion to the Premier League. Throughout their debut season in the Premier League he scored some important goals, including the only goals in 1–0 victories against Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield and Villa Park, respectively.

In November 1998, whilst still playing for Barnsley in a match at Sunderland, Ward scored, missed a penalty and got sent off in the space of five minutes, with all incidents also involving Sunderland defender Darren Williams.

After spells at Blackburn Rovers, Bradford City and Sheffield United, Ward retired in the summer of 2005.

Personal life

Ward and his wife run a number of businesses, including, acommercial property business, operating Abafields, a nursing home in Bolton bought for development but now operating under a manager. He also manages a £15million luxury property development company Bilton Ward Developments. Formed in 2002 the company specialises in the building and renovation of luxury homes, many for footballers including Kevin Campbell and Wayne Rooney. Interior design is often done by former Changing Rooms designer Laura McCree.

In March 2011, Ward was linked with a possible move to buy Wrexham.

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