Mark Ward makes good use of his time behind bars
During a career that spanned through the eighties and nineties, Mark Ward notched up an enviable list of achievements: he played in Wembley cup finals, scored in Merseyside derbies for his hometown club Everton, and came within a few points of winning the league with the lauded West Ham team of 1986. Stuart Pearce once singled him out as the trickiest opponent he ever face, and after a game at Nottingham Forest, Brian Clough declared: “Take Ward to the  World Cup.”
After being relieved of his duties as Altrincham player/manager in 2001, however, Ward’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. Playing in an era where professionals weren’t set up for life with ridiculous pay packages (his biggest contract earned him £2,000 per week), Ward was getting by on handouts and income support. After accepting an offer to rent out a house in his name and hand over the keys to a third party who would pay him a weekly wage, Ward found himself on the wrong side of the police, who raided the property and found 4kg (or £645,000 worth) of cocaine.
After pleading guilty to intent to supply, Ward began an eight year sentence in 2005 at Liverpool’s Walton prison, housed in the “lifer’s” wing thanks to overcrowding.
Knowing that his sentence could have been halved if he had agreed to name the folks for whom he rented the “drug factory” house, Ward kept quiet and spent a little more time surrounded by gangs, fights, cockroaches, scams and suicides.
During the last four years in prison, Ward has used his time productively, detailing his rise to glory and subsequent fall from grace in Right Wing to B-wing…Premier League to Prison. He recalls a friendship with one of Birmingham’s biggest drug dealers (which ended when he shot was dead in a pub), and how cocaine took away his career, his marriage and his freedom.
The Spoiler has no idea if the book is any good – it’s released tomorrow and we haven’t read it – but it has all the hallmarks of a decent page turner.