Further Info: Retired due to a Broken Leg. Nicknamed
Kevin Ward by Dave Dooley:
If you could identify and clone the characteristics of the ideal rugby league prop forward, the resultant manifestation would be very similar to Kevin Ward. This hard, rugged and skilful gem had tormented Saints on many occasions before moving to Knowsley Road for a most glorious Indian summer in the twilight of his career. Kevin could scatter any opposition as he drove the ball into the defensive line, then just before the tackle was complete he would either deliver a beautiful over-arm offload to a supporting player or spin and feed any colleague hanging behind the attack. In defence he was as solid as a rock, furthermore he was nippy with nimble feet for a player in his position. Kevin signed for the Saints in the summer of 1990 as Mike McClennan attempted to bring in some experience in the pack to complement the young talent on the Saints` books at the time. Kevin Ward fitted the bill perfectly as he had bags of experience and was still a current seasoned international prop forward. Moreover, he was still as fit as a fiddle at the ripe old age of 33!
Kevin could not have picked a gentler introduction to life at Knowsley Road as he stormed out on the 26th of August, 1990 to face Trafford Borough in the first round of the Lancashire Cup. Saints cantered home by 56 points to 24 and `Fred` (nicknamed because of his ever so slight resemblance to Fred Flintstone) celebrated his debut with a blockbusting try. Kevin added a second in his first season with the Saints against Hull. Throughout the season the Saints rattled up the points unfortunately the side was defensively stretched in many games and 11 losses in the league left Cooper`s men in sixth position. After a fabulous 19 points to 2 semi-final win over Widnes in the Challenge Cup semi-final when Kevin played a blinder and bullied the Widnes pack, Kevin`s dream of a Wembley winner`s medal was only eighty minutes away. Sadly, Saints fell at the final hurdle as Wigan held on to a handy half time lead to prevail by 13 points to 8. Many felt that Wigan were there for the taking on that day and this made the club even more determined to bring some silverware to Knowsley Road. A loser`s medal was all on offer that day.
Kevin`s thirst for winners` medals was soon fulfilled in the following campaign as the Saints had a blinder against Wigan in the Lancashire Cup semi-final. Kevin was the bedrock of the pack as the Saints six dominated the Wigan pack team as Saints magnificently overcame the old enemy. Ten days later Kevin led the pack as Saints ground out a 24 points to 14 win over Rochdale Hornets in the Lancashire Cup Final at Warrington. He scored three cracking tries that season against Trafford Borough, Widnes and his old team Castleford. His durability and fitness were there for all to see as `Fred` played in 35 matches during the campaign. The Saints also settled down that season and finished a comfortable second position in the league but still somewhat adrift from Wigan at the top.
Saints and Kevin made a cracking start to the 1992/3 season wining their first ten games on the bounce and easing their way to the very last Lancashire Cup Final at Knowsley Road. In a bruising battle in front a packed house, the Saints and Kevin were edged out by the men from Wigan by 5 points to 4. Nevertheless, Saints and Wardy continued their great form up to Christmas. An injury during the Castleford match meant that Kevin missed one of the team`s finest displays ever in the Boxing Day match against Wigan in 1992. The Saints whipped the boys from Wigan by a fabulous score-line of 41 points to 6. Everyone felt that the balance of power was finally shifting westwards over Billinge Lump after that game. Kevin returned to the side in mid- January but another injury against Wigan in the Challenge Cup loss on February 13th, 1993. put the big Yorkshireman out till the end of March. The derby clash against Wigan on the 9th of April was set up as a title decider. In a tense thriller the teams were locked together when disaster happened. Kevin burst through and was tackled in the midfield. Immediately the players and crowd knew `Fred` had suffered a horrendous broken leg. The injury dampened the remainder of the match and the 8 points all drawn final score meant that at the end of the season Saints lost out to Wigan on points difference at the top of the table. Some consolation came however in the last match of the season as Shane Cooper captained the team to the 1993 Premiership Final win over Wigan by 10 points to 4. Kevin Ward witnessed the victory as a spectator on crutches. The seriousness and complex nature of the injury meant that this was the end of the playing career of one of the greatest ever British prop forwards.
In all Kevin made 89 appearances for the Saints, scoring 8 tries in the process. Kevin`s rapport with the crowd was always first class and any Saints fan who had to pleasure to witness Kevin play would speak in reverential terms about this amiable giant of the game. In the year 2003 Kevin returned to Knowsley Road with copies of his autobiography aptly entitled "No pain, no gain" written in conjunction with Dave Sampson. It is a well written, fascinating insight into the life and times of Kevin Ward and a great read.