Whatever happened to Peter Ward?

In summer 1986, Match magazine began a series tracing the top flight players who suddenly disappeared from the scene. On 26th July, it ran ‘Forward with the Force’, a feature on Brighton’s most celebrated striker:

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The name of Peter Ward still sets Seagulls fans chirping on the South coast.

They remember the nonchalant way he waltzed around defenders and turned goalkeepers into quivering wrecks with his lethal finishing.

But it’s the followers of America’s Cleveland Force who are being delighted by the skills of the former Brighton favourite.

It’s more than three years since the Goldstone witnessed a Peter Ward goal ~ which has become so familiar in the Major Indoor Soccer League he now graces.

The United States has become Peter’s adopted home since he quit English football and admits: “I’ve loved ever of it.

“The indoor game here is thriving, I enjoy the lifestyle and I’m more financially secure than I would have been in England.”

But Peter does confess that, while he has never regretted making the move, there are times when he yearns for the English First Division.

The American indoor season only runs from November to May, and he says: “We have the rest of the year off and the family and I spend it travelling around the States.

“It’s such a long break from football, and now and again I do wish I was back playing in England.

“In fact it would be great for me if the American season ran during the summer and I could return home to play in the winter.

“But having said all that, being off during the summer does provide an opportunity to travel that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“And of course the money is good. I would be lying if I said that hasn’t been a factor in keeping me out here.”

Peter had his first taste of Stateside soccer in the summer of ’82 and after one successful season with Seattle he was hooked.

Following the disappointment of his spell with Nottingham Forest – a big-money move which had promised so much – his American adventure provided a heaven-sent opportunity to lift his flagging spirits.

He was voted the NASL’s top player in his first season and although he returned to Brighton for a brief loan spell he was convinced his future lay overseas.

“That first summer in Seattle was so enjoyable that I had to go back,” says peter. “I played for them again the following year and I’ve been in America ever since.

“I also had a spell with Vancouver and since the NASL folded a couple of years ago I’ve been playing in the Major Indoor Soccer League with Cleveland.

“It took a while to adapt to the six-a-side indoor game but it’s been a great experience.”

Instead of the normal 90 minutes MISL matches consist of four 15-minute quarters played at frenetic pace.

“It’s very exciting for the fans and exhausting for the players,” he admits. “In fact it’s very rare for anyone to play more than half a match.

“The usual thing is to have a couple of minutes on the field and a couple off to catch your breath. The teams are always being switched about so it’s non-stop stuff.

“The atmosphere inside the magnificent stadiums we play is tremendous, especially when there are about 20,000 excited fans chanting and screaming.

“I’ve really enjoyed playing indoor soccer but I think I’ll probably stay here for just one more season before moving on.

“Coming back to England has always been at the back of my mind and that’s what I’d like to do when my contract with Cleveland runs out.”

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