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Ex-footballer Mark Ward revealed how he legged it from police after they found a huge stash of cocaine in his home – only for one to catch him and tell him they were his biggest fan.
The former Everton and West Ham winger served four years after being given an eight-year jail sentence in 2005 for drug trafficking after 4kg of cocaine was discovered in his house in Merseyside.
Ward said that he had fallen on hard times after returning to the UK from Australia where he had attempted to set himself up as a football coach following the end of his playing career.
He had agreed to rent out the property for the drug gang who said that he wouldn’t raise any eyebrows as he was expected to have money as an ex-footballer.
Ward recalled on Undr The Cosh podcast the moment police finally busted him.
“I drove to where the property was and there was half of Merseyside police outside and I tried to get to my brother’s pub and I got away, I could still run then like,” he said.
“I dumped the car, I was just shocked, you know what I mean.”
He said that he escaped but was quickly picked up by two plain clothed police.
“By this time this fat copper had caught up and he went ‘f***ing hell Wardy what are you doing lad I used to love you playing for Everton. You’re in big trouble,” Ward said.
He expected to be given bail with his solicitor confident it would be granted with his high-profile football background.
"The solicitor said you’ve played in a Merseyside derby, a Manchester derby, a Birmingham derby and a London derby, you’ve played in every major city so I think you’ll get bail for sure," Ward said.
“Then I always remember the magistrates, my daughter was there and my family and it is very rare that the magistrates go out when they ask for bail. And they came back and said bail is not granted on the grounds of known acquaintances.
“It came up on the news as I was going into the prison that ex-Everton star Mark Ward has been remanded in custody and all the lads are banging on the doors, I thought to myself straight away then I’ve got to get myself sorted out.”
Once behind bars, Mark recalled how a prison guard told him he was “going to be with us for a long time son”.
He told the podcast that he didn’t give away who the drug gang was that he had “stashed” the drugs for but that they were caught anyway ten months into his sentence.
“The top fellows, they needed safe houses to put them [the drugs] in and because I didn’t disclose who I had rented the house out to I had to take it on the chin," he said.
"There were certain people saying that is pathetic and I should have done the right thing but at the end of the day I wanted to come out of prison and not look behind me every five minutes, and protect my family as well.”
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Ward said it was tough in prison but believed his football background helped him.
"There were a lot of suicides especially at Walton (prison) I think there were about six in six months," he said.
"Especially when that door slams it is a difficult place to be if you're not strong minded and I always think, the dressing room is just male isn’t it, you are on top of each other and the banter.
"It can be cruel, it can be very cruel and a bit personal as well throughout your football career. I always got on with most, all the players really and I think being a football helped me in a way."
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