Nick “Junior” Ward
Nick joined the Uni Whites at the start of the 2003 season. He, like so many others, was drawn to the club’s reputation. He also knew that he’d outgrown those Mercedes ponces and there was no future for him as an old scholar. He wanted the Glamour.
Like Danni Minogue and Mark Waugh before him, Nick was the younger, less talented and less known sibling of a well established superstar. Just like Danni, Nick went through a phase of skimpy outfits, big hair and self-inflicted controversy: anything to emerge from the all-encompassing shadow of the one they call Octopussy. He didn’t care how he got there. But nothing he did could get him into the spotlight.
He took a few weeks off in frustration, under the guise of rebreaking his leg soon into the season. It fooled nobody. The tabloids had his number. No-one breaks their leg twice in one season. The paparazzi followed him on his layoff and produced pictures of him attending Tony Robbins’ Motivational Seminars. It was all out in the open, he was finished, surely…
But he had what he wanted. Publicity. He didn’t care how he got it. When he came back he was fitter, more confident and with an eye for goal. Two goals in the last 10 minutes to set up the win against Pulteney, and then another brace against the might of Rostrevor in the Cup Semi Final. Who knows what caused this turnaround. Many say that Tony changed Nick’s career for ever. But those in the know knew what had happened. It was the fame. The goddamn fame.
Picking up the A’s top team man for 2003 was just the beginning. But would it last? It was what he always wanted, but now he has it, how will he handle it? He has already started to follow in Simo’s footsteps, gulping down softies after a game like they were the last drink he’d ever have.
He’s joined in with his brother’s band of soccer groupies. But ever-increasingly those around beg the question: Whose groupies are they? Are they still Simo’s, with Nick just tagging along, or have they changed allegiance, and is Simo on the outer?
I for one think this is just the beginning…