Players are just human not role models says former Hammer

FORMER HAMMER Mark Ward thinks that people and newspapers should lay off the Premier League stars who want to go out and have a drink after a match - in fact he positively advocates it. Watching players like Ledley King fall drunkenly out of a nightclub l

FORMER HAMMER Mark Ward thinks that people and newspapers should lay off the Premier League stars who want to go out and have a drink after a match - in fact he positively advocates it.

Watching players like Ledley King fall drunkenly out of a nightclub leaves many people with a heavy heart at the terrible example they are setting to youngsters who idolise the big stars, but although not condoning behaviour like King's, Ward feels that drinking has its place.

"Footballers are only hu-man," he said. "They get so much stick from the terraces and some of the stick is unbelievable.

"After that, they want to let their hair down and go out and enjoy themselves. Alcohol is obviously a drug and you behave differently when you've had a drink, and some of them let themselves down.


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"But are they not allowed to have a drink because they are a footballer?

"You have to put things into perspective. It is a pressurised situation and if you can't go out once in a while and relax and enjoy yourself, then what is the point in being a footballer?"

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In Ward's day, the drinking culture was rife in football, but he believes it was an important part of building team-spirit, which doesn't really exist today.

"I don't think the drinking is anywhere near what it used to be," said the former Hammer. "When I was at Everton and Manchester City we used to have the social side of things to get the team bonding.

"Howard Kendall was the prime mover in that, but you can't knock the man because he won championships.

"His man-management skills were as good as any and he is the greatest football manager Everton have ever had, and what a club they are."

Ward also believes there is no reason why that same sort of culture couldn't work in today's game.

"Why not?" he insisted. "As long as you are doing it at the right times, not taking them out before games.

"If I was a manager right now, it wouldn't stop me taking the lads out for a bevvy after the game, because that is when you get to know people.

"There are too many people in this world saying there is too much of this and too much of that going on, but that is how people live, it's ridiculous.

"I wouldn't like to be a footballer in this day and age. Obviously I would like the wages, but not the lack of freedom that you get.

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