Using the Trust network, today we get the view of Steve Downes from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association on recent signing Danny Ward who played a key role in the season that promotion to the Premier League was achieved….
Danny Ward has just moved to Leicester City for a reported fee of £10m, an amount of money no Town fan thought would be possible for the keeper.
Ward spent a whole season on loan at Huddersfield Town two years ago, and he became the main number one goalkeeper for the Terriers in a season that no Town fan will forget. As ever with the football industry it’s a who knows who game. Town head coach David Wagner is big mates with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and Wagner asked his good friend and old teammate if we could borrow Ward for the 2016/17 campaign.
Klopp agreed and Ward came to West Yorkshire with a good reputation, a keeper who was big, strong and had good hands but most importantly could play with his feet. Town fans instantly took a liking to the Welshman who they had seen play in the 2016 European Championships.
The 25 year old had been on loan at Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen where he made a number of key appearances for the club becoming a fan's favorite. His loan in Scotland was cut short by Liverpool in 2016 and he ended his time at Aberdeen keeping 13 clean sheets.
Town fans had heard good things about Ward and were looking forward to seeing what he was like in pre-season. Those friendly games came and went, and now it was down to the real test starting in August and the Championship season.
No one expected Huddersfield Town to be potential promotion contenders in August, and so with all the other Town players Ward ran out on the first day of the season against Brentford at home Town won the game 2-1, and Ward made a couple of terrific saves in the game to help the Terriers off to a good start.
Ward kept having good games, and to be honest the only real blot on his copybook in the first part of the season was the game away at Brighton where Town would have been on for a good draw, until Ward conceded a poor goal. A slow shot came in from a Brighton attacker which slipped through Wards hands. He wasn’t necessarily blamed for the defeat, but it certainly didn’t help his confidence. Another mistake was made just a few weeks later away at Reading, again another 1-0 defeat.
As the team's confidence started to pick up so did Ward’s, he made a string of good performances, and his confidence again shot up.
However Ward was about to find out the way usual Town campaigns go with a mid-season blip in October and November. A 5-0 defeat to Fulham didn’t help the Welshmans ratings amongst Town fans and the proceeding results in both those months were not great either.
However Town restored their form and push for the playoffs and Ward’s form improved, he became a vital part of the team especially in some matches that were too close to call. Ward had the ability to make vital saves at vital times, and whilst he wasn’t the best at distribution of the ball his all round play was certainly better than some of the goalkeepers we had seen at the club at that time.
Town reached the playoffs, and Ward’s legendary status would be sealed forever in just three games. It had been 45 years since Town had the chance to play in the top flight of English football. The Terriers went into a two legged affair against Sheffield Wednesday. Whilst the first leg at the John Smiths Stadium was nothing to shout about, Ward still had to be on hand to pull off at least one fine save.
The second leg in Sheffield was a lot more interesting as both teams pushed to go for the win to get to Wembley and the playoff final. Ward produced a number of good saves throughout the match including extra time.
However the game went to penalties and the time to become a hero at Huddersfield Town football club had come for Danny Ward. Having made a save in the shootout already when he saved Sam Hutchinson's penalty, it all came down to the last kick. Wednesday had saved arguably their best player until last to score the penalty to keep the Owls in the shootout.
Fernando Forestieri had become a pain in the backside of Town for some time due to the goals he had scored against us in previous years. It was appropriate that it fell to him to score against Ward to keep Wednesday’s hopes alive. Fortunately for Town he missed the spot kick, and Ward was able to get a glove to the ball to save it from hitting the net.
Town fans knew instantly that they would be going to the final, but there is a great camera shot of Ward stood their not realising he had just saved the final penalty It takes a second for him to realise what he had just done, and then he bolted down the other end of the field to celebrate in front of the Town faithful.
It then came to the playoff final, possibly the biggest game of Ward’s career so far, whilst the game again was nothing to shout about, Ward did make one or two good saves during the match. It once again came down to penalties.
Ward saved a vital penalty in the shoutout and the outfield players did the rest, the Welshman was secured in his legendary status at the club for life. To be apart of a Huddersfield Town team that got to the top league in English football is special.
Town fans were wondering if Ward would return for the first season in the Premier League in 45 years, but it wasn’t meant to be as Klopp wanted to keep him as a third choice keeper at Liverpool.
Town moved on and now have a great keeper in Jonas Lossl, however Huddersfield fans memories of Ward are fond. Leicester City have certainly got a good keeper on their hands, and whilst Ward can make mistakes which keeper doesn’t.
Hopefully one of Ward’s mistakes will come against Huddersfield this coming season in the Premier League.
To read the latest from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association, follow this link https://htsa-web.com/