With Birmingham City sitting pretty in the Premier League Colin Tattum catches up with a former St Andrew’s favourite Mark Ward.
You will often hear Blues fans lament the fact that they’ve “never had another Mark Ward type of player”.
In his pomp when Blues won the Second Division title and Auto Windscreens Shield double in 1995, Ward used to direct traffic from the centre of the park, skipping away from tackles to spray the ball about.
It’s those kind of playmaking skills that the St Andrew’s faithful have yearned for since, although Barry Ferguson seems to be filling the breach very nicely.
Ward admitted that he wasn’t aware of the esteem in which he was still held.
“It’s nice, I wasn’t at Birmingham for that long compared to some of my other clubs but I really enjoyed myself and got on great with the supporters,” he said.
“I think the supporters saw me as one of them really. I could play a bit but I always gave 100 per cent.
“When I went to Birmingham, it was obvious the potential the club had and I really wanted to help them realise it.
“Unfortunately things don’t always turn out as you want them to and, to be honest, I think everyone is still waiting for them to really kick-on as they should.
“I know Birmingham got up and stayed in the Premier League for a few years, but they’ve been a yo-yo club and there always seem to be something going off, politics behind the scenes, which there was in my day.”
Ward’s boyhood club, Everton, were the perfect example to emulate, he said.
Similar in size and often in the shadow of their city neighbour, but the difference being that Everton have had top level success and continue to strive to make progress under David Moyes.
“It’s been a roller-coaster for Birmingham whereas Everton have got on a sound footing,” said Ward, who made 81 appearances for Blues between 1994-1996.
“The problem Birmingham have got now is that there’s almost three divisions within one in the Premier League – and when they get up, they’re among the clubs trying to stay in it.
“Everton have flirted with relegation as well but they’re a great benchmark for a club like Birmingham to follow.
“But even though Everton have finished fourth and fifth and reached the FA Cup final, for them to break into that top group is impossible.
“That’s the way it is nowadays and Birmingham have got to look to try and consolidate in the division and then build steadily, like Everton have,” he said.