In Peter Ward’s first ever interview with Shoot! magazine in the summer of 1976, he talks happily about becoming an overnight sensation at the Goldstone Ground:
Peter Ward, Brighton’s scoring bombshell, is still learning to adjust to the fact he has actually made it into the ranks of professional footballers.
You can’t really blame him either – he had grown used to people saying he was far too small ever to make the grade.
He sayS: “l always wanted to be a footheller, but so many people told me I was too small that I began to believe them. I never even got a game for Derby Schoolboys – my home-town – because they reckoned I was too tiny.
“1 agree I was a little ‘un – I was only just four feet eight inches when I left school. But I always felt I had what it took, even though no one seemed interested.”
So, with the League clubs definitely not beating a path to his front door, Peter decided to become an apprentice fitter and to simply concentrate on playing for local League sides in Derby.
But the years brought extra inches and pounds – and, finally, his big opportunity.
Neighbouring Southern League club Burton Albion spotted his potential and snapped him up when he was 18. Peter proved them right by grabbing 26 goals in his only season with them.
Then Brighton boss Peter Taylor, no stranger to the area, heard of his skills, went for a look – and promptly signed him for £4,000 last year.
And when Taylor unleashed him on to the startled Third Dlvlsion, Peter repaid his faith in him by scoring six goals in his eight games – enough to bring several First Division scouts to the Goldstone Ground.
Now, at 20 and standing five feet seven inches and weighing 10 stone, Peter is hoping he can establish himself even further next season.
He says: “Everything happened very quickly for me last season and I am still getting used to it. For a start, I found it difficult to settle down at first because I was not used to full-time training – we only trained a couple of nights a week at Burton,
“I got over that problem and scored 20 goals for the reserves – but I never expected my first-team chance to come so quickly, It was a big shock to be asked to take over from Fred Binney.
“But now I have had my taste of first-team action I am hungry for more.
“I feel my main strength is I am quick on the turn and am always looking for goals — and I’m not worried about my height or weight any longer.”