Ward delighted to join a team of 'winners'
Chris Lakey Elliott Ward is clearly his own man - asking old pals for advice on a major career move is not for him. When it came to joining Norwich City, Ward could have turned to a couple of former Coventry team-mates or a couple of former City managers with West Ham connections.
Elliott Ward is clearly his own man - asking old pals for advice on a major career move is not for him.
When it came to joining Norwich City, Ward could have turned to a couple of former Coventry team-mates or a couple of former City managers with West Ham connections.
But Ward has seen and heard enough during his playing career to make up his own mind.
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“To be honest I know a few people who have been here,” he said. “I have known about the club that way, through players or managers.
“David Bell, Sammy Clingan, Dion Dublin, Peter Grant was manager, Glenn Roeder was manager and I know the Doc (Gary Doherty) from my brother (Darren). It's been nice to hear their views from before, but I haven't told them about this. I didn't want any advice, I wanted to make sure it was my own decision.
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“When new players come you want to get to know them and find out where they have been. Obviously I have had conversations with them, but I didn't want to get in touch with anyone now because it's my decision, it's not theirs.
“If there is anything good or bad to say I am sure I will find out about it in my time here. I didn't want to be influenced by anyone saying good and bad things.”
It seems the only person he listened to was manager Paul Lambert.
“I think in the end it was the manager being a big pull in my decision,” said Ward. “The first time I met him he told me his intentions and stuff he wants me to do and obviously telling me there is a crowd of 25k which is going to go up before the season starts is a big pull as well - it's nice for players to play in front of big crowds. That was another factor. I had to go away and think about things and in the end it was quite simple.”
Ward was linked with a move to Carrow Road in January last year, as part of a swap deal involving David Bell - Bell did eventually move to the Midlands, but Ward didn't take the opposite journey.
“I don't think it ever got close,” he said. “I think there were talks, but I don't think we were ever close to doing it. That's why I know about this club. I looked into it a little bit then, but I played near enough the whole season at Coventry after that so it was just talks.
“I have always been interested in Norwich, it's a good club, a nice family club and has great support, so it's nice to join a team of winners at the minute - and hopefully it carries on.”
Ward's career began at West Ham and after two loan spells he broke through into the first team at the end of the 2004-05 season, when he and Anton Ferdinand were drafted in to replace Malky Mackay and Christian Dailly. The partnership worked well and the Hammers moved into the play-offs and won promotion back to the top flight.
But Danny Gabbidon's arrival was the beginning of the end, and Ward made just four more league appearances for the London club.
Coventry paid �1m for his services but after three seasons as a regular in the backline he fell out of favour with Chris Coleman and was loaned out to Doncaster and then Preston.
His spell at Doncaster was notable for a spectacular overhead kick goal on his debut, at Sheffield Wednesday.
“If you can do it, you do it,” he said. “Luckily it came off. I'm not saying I will be trying it every week, but if it's there to do it happens. If I can contribute in the attack and score goals I will try, but without doubt my job is to defend.”
That's been made clear from the start by Lambert.
“He's told me what he wants me to do and without doubt I will be listening,” he said. “Head it, kick it, put my body in front of the ball. That's the instructions I've been given and I will be working on stuff like that - and when it's the right time I want to be playing good football.”
So where does Ward see Norwich City on his career CV?
“It stands up there at the minute - I haven't kicked a ball yet, but it's a big club and at the minute I have been quite lucky to play for big clubs,” he said. “They are definitely up there with the biggest and they are trying to get up there again in the big league with the biggest teams - it's definitely a club I wanted to join.”
t WARD FACTFILE
Height: 6ft 1in
Born: Harrow, London.
Record (league and cup)
West Ham (August 2001 to June 2006) - Appearances 21 Goals 0
Peterborough (loan, July-August 2004) - 0-0
Bristol Rovers (loan, December 2004 to January 2005) - 3-0
Plymouth (loan, November 2005 to May 2006) - 16-1
Coventry (�1m, June 2006 to May 2010) - 126-16
Doncaster (loan, February-March 2010) - 6-1
Preston (loan, March 2010) - 4-0
Total: 175 appearances, 18 goals