Football: Ward axed as Grove boss in shock move by new chairman
PETER Ward has been sacked as Kidsgrove Athletic manager after six years in charge.
Ward was shocked and disappointed to be given the bullet by newly-appointed chairman John Rowley, who says he has taken the move to usher in a fresh outlook.
The well-travelled boss originally took up the position in 2006 alongside Paul Ogden.
He was left in sole charge when Ogden left for Leek Town 12 months later.
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Ward guided the club to four Staffordshire Senior Cup titles, oversaw their best-ever run in the FA Cup and a play-off campaign in Evo-Stik Division One South.
But it was not enough to appease Rowley, who has also said goodbye to Ward's assistant, Anthony Buckle.
Ward said: "I've had a good few years. I see it as my own club.
"It's in my home town, I used to play for them as a kid and I had them in my heart.
"If we hadn't been so badly hit by injuries last year I'm sure we would have made the play-offs, and I'm certain we could have done it this time around.
"The budget was reduced, but we had a meeting on Monday when all the players agreed to stay. I'm really sad to go, but that's the life of a football manager.
"I've lost none of my enthusiasm and I've loved working with Ant. He's a great coach and hopefully we can get back into football somewhere sooner rather than later."
Kidsgrove finished 13th last season, 19 points behind Leek Town in the final play-off spot. They also reached the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Long-serving director Rowley, who took over from Mick Fitzjohn as chairman earlier this month, has already received three applications for the manager's job.
He said: "There have been no blazing rows, but I decided we needed a clear out. That's it. We are looking for a fresh start.
"Over the past few years we have been average. We had a good FA Cup run and never looked like getting relegated, but we never looked like being promoted either.
"I had a think after the budget meeting on Monday and decided that I didn't think it could go on any longer. Sometimes you have to tread on toes unfortunately."