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on 19 November 2012
I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that someone with an addictive/compulsive personality should write a really compelling book - especially when the subject matter is the very eventful life of former footballer Mark Ward. He was a busy, industrious player (400 plus career matches as a pro) so when he finds himself banged-up for 4 years, he can't just sit still and bide his time. Instead he bangs out his life story, and it's a real page turner, embracing nice memories of the emergence of the Premiership, and all the old footballing characters from the 80s and 90s. There are two in particular that stand out for the author as beacons of inspiration and decency in shaping his early career - John Lyall and Howard Kendall (who repays all the tributes in the foreword). But when his career path takes him away from their strong influence, things start to unravel, and this quickly becomes a salutary tale for any young footballer (or anyone really). The author readily admits that he is often let down by his own judgement and decision-making, and when this is fuelled by too much booze then enmities and problems start lining up like a huge defensive wall that stops him getting to where he thinks he should be.
Ultimately this is an (apparently) honest and sobering tale, with a post-script chapter stressing how much of a struggle post-prison life still is despite the success and coverage of this book.
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on 5 July 2012
Lovely little footballer when he was in his prime. A lot of the stuff was understandable but a lot was glorified. I do not believe that when Ward was first taken to HMP Liverpool (Walton) that he arrived in handcuffs. I think it was in the first chapter that he mentioned this. After I retired from the Merseyside Police I drove the vans conveying prisoners from courts to prison and only extremely violent prisoners, or prisoners with a high escape risk, were handcuffed in transit. Ward wasn't in this catagory. He also played down his part in the drugs dealing. Why doesn't he admit he was a drugs dealer instead of trying to blame someone else. The judge obviously didn't believe him and he was a really emminent judge. Enjoyable book though.
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on 18 November 2011
one of the best books I have read since tony cascarino's many moons's gritty and mind opening.the book should also give credit for Ward as he knows he has done wrong but does not ask for sympathy but you can understand his grievances.Quality book and MUST be read
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on 4 July 2013
A good read of how human we all are despite our relative success in life . Despite living the dream Marks misplaced loyalty landed him in prison . However this was not a self pitying tale but an interesting journey of football from a player who had genuine talent and believed in his own ability and put in the hard work to achieve his goals . Sadly he fell on bad times and made a serious error of judgement involving drugs . At times Mark portrays an insensitive attitude to his crime as he fails to understand drugs actually do hurt people - however the story is told in an interesting style and never fails to entertain . Ultimately Mark has come out of the other end and appears to be putting his life together again . Well worth a read for any football fan
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on 18 December 2012
Well written and very difficult to put down!
Mark's story is an amazing tale even without his prison experience, he showed so much determination in not crumbling when released by Everton at a young age.

This book is a must read for any sports fan.
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on 16 July 2013
I was fortunate enough to be among the assembled five or six thousand spectators at Boundary Park Oldham, on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon in late August 1983, to watch Mark Ward make his professional debut. And I can remember, as if it were yesterday, Mark darting in from nowhere to head his first winning goal in league football past the on-rushing Brighton goalkeeper, right before the rapturous 'Chaddy' End faithful. It was therefore with great interest, and as a great admirer of his talent, that I followed not only his excellent two seasons at Latics, but also his subsequent rise through football.
Strangely enough, after Mark dropped out of the pro game: perhaps because I left my native north Manchester home-area; perhaps because I've never been one to read the gossip-rag papers, I was totally unaware of what happened to our speedy winger after his football career until I stumbled across his book on Amazon.
His book, 'Hammered' is a compelling read for fans of all his clubs and, in true football style, it is a game, (or book) of two halves.
The first half obviously and entertainingly chronicles his childhood years; his hopes dashed by Everton; his gamble in signing for non-league Northwich Vics before his equally precarious gamble in packing-in the day job to turn pro at Oldham Athletic. From Boundary Park his star was to rise dramatically. Next came his obviously very happy spell at West Ham, sadly cut short by the failings of Lou Macari. (Although Mark failed to mention it in his book how he must have raised an ironic smile when Macari's poor stewardship of West Ham was terminated by a league cup thrashing handed out by Oldham.) Then of course came his high profile transfer to Maine Road and its eventful duration, followed by his triumphant return home to Everton.
Following his departure from Goodison, Wardy makes a refreshingly honest documentation of his football light beginning to fade after his ultimately frustrating spell at Birmingham and subsequent injury issues which eventually ended his playing days.
The second half of the book is more a study of his psychology, or maybe more specifically his human frailty. This presents itself as a fairly harrowing account of Mark's increasing desperation in trying to prolong his football career by breaking into the world of management and coaching. Eventually of course, he openly describes the series of events and poor choices which lead to his imprisonment.
As someone of a similar age and someone from a north-western inner-city area, I do find myself feeling a sense of sympathy for Mark's choices, even though I unreservedly deplore the dreadful effect of drugs on our society. The feeling of desperation to maintain even a modest lifestyle when employment is not available frequently leads people to take 'dodgy' choices to make ends meet. In Mark's case, although he claims (and given the frankness of the book there is no reason to suspect he is telling lies) to have had no other dealings with the drug barons other than to 'front' a tenancy agreement; it was, as he readily admits, a stupid and thoughtless choice.
Yet many less privileged, or just plain less lucky people will in their more thoughtful moments concede, 'there but for the grace of God, go I', even if only to themselves.
Mark's brutally frank portrayal of his time at Her Majesties pleasure should serve as a deterrent to those pondering over such seemingly harmless choices. His battle to regain his fitness, his pride and his reputation following his incarceration should serve as an example for those whose path through life has been more challenging than they would prefer.
I would like to congratulate Wardy on this fine attempt at writing his autobiography and perhaps more importantly, on the way he is attempting to get his life back on track following so many set-backs.
Good luck Wardy.
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on 14 October 2012
Mark Ward was an exciting player at West Ham and since he left I've followed his career on the back pages and then on the front pages.

He's had an incredible life and he's written a 'warts and all' autobiography. He's been a bad lad, but he seems to have put that behind him now and I wish him all the best.

Thanks Mark for the great memories at the Boleyn and I'm glad you've turned your life around.

Jeremy Nicholas - Stadium Announcer at West Ham United and author of Mr Moon Has Left the Stadium
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on 23 January 2014
Like Mark I come from Huyton, have waited in Eaton Rd for the 75 bus and I'm Evertonian. Unlike him my recollections of Huyton differ, yes it had its tough areas but like most places it also had its good areas.
I'm so glad that I continued to read his autobiography. In covering his playing career you get an insight into the surreal life led by many football players during that era.
The book really comes into its own when things start to go wrong. The description of life inside Walton is vivid, you can picture the awful place. You sense the smell and rotten atmosphere.
Mark describes the effect his wrongs have had on his family. When he rang his mother to tell her; you can only imagine the pain.
I don't think you would have to be a football fan to read this book although I'm sure it would help.
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on 12 November 2012
as a city fan enjoyed his goal against millwall better than this book.full of self love for a man who had so much(talent and money) blew it ,acted the big time charlie ,thinks he's the only person who got drunk in a pub .as a working class man who spent most of his cash before the shackles of a mortgage on football through the mid eighties until 2005 like thousands of others ,i could and can only dream of having financial security like that presented to mark.his daughter who he professed to love like no other could of also benefited from this rather than providing a sweetie kitty for her dad languishing in his hindsight instead of chipping in my cash which goes partly in his pocket iwould of been better off having a pint eh wardy
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on 12 June 2013
One of the more interesting life of a footballer books. Mark certainly has had an eventful life to date. He had to work hard to secure a professional career but like so many he wasted much of the benefits of his chosen career. He is at least aware of his mistakes and highlights them in this book. Unfortunately his upbringing in Liverpool means that he tended to drift into the seamier side of life and this was the route that finished with the spell in prison. I agree with him that the sentence was far longer that it should have been and all credit to him for the way that he dealt with the spell behind bars. A book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
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