Cheltenham, Gloucestershire born right winger Tim Ward began his football career with Andoversford in the Cheltenham League before signing for Cheltenham Town in 1935, who were then embarking on their first seasons in the Southern League. In 1937 Tim had an unsuccessful trial for Leicester City before catching the attention of First Division Derby County scout Jackie Whitehouse. He joined the club on trial, scoring with the first kick of his first trial match with Derby County ‘A’, and convinced George Jobey to pay Cheltenham £100 and became a full-time professional in April 1937. Playing at left half, he made his Football League debut at Sunderland in January 1938 replacing England international defender Eric Keen, and played in most of Derby’s remaining games that season, missing only two matches in the final pre-Second World War season, 1938-39.
Like many of his generation, Ward’s career was adversely affected by the outbreak of Second World War, and during his time in the Army Ward made guest appearances for Notts County, Hamilton Academical and Leeds United and also played for the Scottish Army XI before he was sent in fight in Europe. After the war he played for the BAOR team before being demobbed. His time in Germany saw him miss all but one game of Derby’s 1946 FA Cup campaign. Ward was philosophical on missing the FA Cup Final, saying ‘So many of my friends were killed in the War and I regarded myself lucky to emerge from it, rather than unlucky to miss Wembley.”
On his return to England, despite Arsenal offering £10,000 for his services, Derby found him a position at right-half, where he was successful enough to gain two full England caps, making his debut against Belgium on 21st September 1947 at The Heysel Stadium and also appearing against Wales at Villa Park on 10th November 1948. He was also part of the FA Tour of Canada in 1950. After 5 goals in 262 appearances for The Rams, he was sold to Barnsley in March 1951, spending two years with the Tykes and making 33 first team appearances before entering management, with a bizarre 8 day one game spell at Exeter City in March 1953 before he was recalled by Barnsley, who had never released him, and appointed as their manager two weeks later.
Though he arrived too late to save Barnsley from relegation, he achieved promotion almost straight away as Third Division (North) Champions in 1955, Barnsley having finished (unprompted) runners up in 1954. Though Barnsley were relegated again four years later, he was still comfortably established at Oakwell until joining Grimsby Town in February 1960. Another promotion followed as Grimsby finished runners up in the 1961-62 Third Division, finishing just three points behind winners Portsmouth.
His success at Grimsby saw him coveted by Derby County, who appointed him manager in June 1962 ahead of the 1962-63 season. At the time Derby were established as a Second Division side and, after four years of finishing progressively higher in the league (18th, 13th, 9th, 8th), the club dipped to 17th in the 1966-67 season and the club decided not to renew his contract, replacing him with Brian Clough. Ward’s five years at Derby were blighted by a lack of cash and a parochial attitude in the boardroom, but he is often credited with laying the foundations for the success of his successor, signing players such as Colin Boulton, Peter Daniel, Kevin Hector, Alan Durban and Ron Webster, all of whom were part of Clough’s 1972 League Championship winning side. Ward claimed that the successful signing of Eddie Thomas for just £3,500, counted against him, saying “(Thomas) proved a marvellous bargain and after that I was expected to sign other players as cheaply.” After Derby, Ward spent 15 months as manager of Carlisle United between July 1967 and October 1968 before leaving football management completely. He later worked as a scout for Nottingham Forest.