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24 September 2014

The second installment of Peter Ward's journey to Brighton & Hove Albion, via tonight's opponents Burton Albion. Read part one here.

Ward was able to make the transition from a non-league set-up to that of a Football League club fairly smoothly.

“We were training every day at Brighton, whereas at Burton we trained two or three times a week and the rest of the time you worked in another job.

“I much preferred to train in football than work in a factory. At Brighton, I got stronger, I did a lot of work putting weights on my legs and it paid off."

With his close control and explosive goalscoring skills, Ward won rave reviews from Albion fans for his displays in the reserves, so much so that there was a mini-campaign in The Argus letters page for him to be given a first-team chance.

Eventually, in March 1976, the prodigious striker was given his debut in Brighton’s Division Three match at league leaders Hereford, and he made a flying start.

"It was totally unexpected that I was selected for the first team. You can’t go wrong when you make your debut in front of the Match of the Day cameras and score in 50 seconds! Everyone’s watching and everyone knows who you are then."

In the 1-1 draw, the identity of the first scorer was in dispute, "Sammy Morgan said he thought it was his goal.

“We stopped on the way back from Hereford and went to eat and watch Match of the Day and we could see it was my goal even thought it was lucky. If it hadn’t been on the telly it wouldn’t have been recorded as mine."

Peter played in the final eight matches of the 1975/76 season, hitting six goals. Despite Wardy's prowess in front of goal, Taylor's Albion side won just once in those matches, putting the kybosh on their promotion chances.

They finished fourth, three points adrift of Millwall, who defeated Brighton 3-1 in a crucial match over Easter, and there were some critics of Taylor’s ability to motivate players.

“He would have it out with players, saying things like ‘What the hell are you doing?’ But as I was coming in and scoring, he was good and encouraging with me.

“When the season finished Taylor gave me a rise, a bonus and extended contract. He may have done that to secure me at the club. There was no hint that he was going to be leaving.”

Having failed to secure promotion, Taylor left for Nottingham Forest in the summer of 1976, re-uniting with Brian Clough.

As for Ward, the pint-sized striker was about to embark on a phenomenal first full season in the Brighton first team.

A club record breaking 36 goals in all competitions was just the start that new boss Alan Mullery was looking for from the former Burton goalscorer.

Ward’s goals proved vital to Albion’s success in the late Seventies/early Eighties, where the Seagulls rose up to the First Division before a transfer to two-time European champions Nottingham Forest in 1980.

The forward briefly returned on loan in 1982 before heading to Canada and then America - where he still lives - for the remainder of his career.



TUESday 30TH september, KICK-OFF 7.45PM




saturDAY 25TH october, kick-off 3pm

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