PODCAST: Mark Ward On Imprisonment, Kendall's Support And Witnessing The Aftermath Of 9/11

"Nothing changes between me and you. I'm here for you now, and I'm here for you when you get out. Do you want a cup of tea?" 

The words Howard Kendall uttered to Mark Ward the first time he saw him in the visitors' room of Rochdale's HMP Buckley Hall. 

On the other side of the table, Ward, prisoner NM6982, was overcome with relief. 

Ward had made a mistake. Since his conviction and imprisonment for drugs trafficking offences, the retired midfielder - twice signed by Kendall as a player - had lay for many a long night wondering what his former manager would think of him. 

"He could have come in and said, 'Why did you do this? Why have you let people down?'," he says. "He didn't. I needed that support and it was fantastic. That's the sort of man Howard was. I miss him to this day." 

Ward is sharing the tale for the latest edition of the Official Everton Podcast

In recent episodes, we have explored the life journeys that former players have taken after leaving Goodison Park. Few have been as dramatic as Ward's. 

Listen below or here to learn how the Huyton-born boyhood Blue recovered from the "bombshell" of being released by Everton as an 18-year-old in 1981 to fight his way back to sign for the Club under Kendall a decade later - and how he "broke down" on learning of the transfer from his then-Manchester City boss Peter Reid.

Discover how the teenage Ward would expend so much effort in training trying to compensate for a perceived lack of athleticism he would end sessions by being "physically sick". 

Hear about the time he ran two hours to training - and then scored a hat-trick that weekend.

Learn why he credits another Blues legend in Joe Royle for reigniting his football career.

Hear his personal experiences of being resident in New York and seeing the harrowing aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001. 

And understand the circumstances that led to him being jailed for eight years in October 2005, a sentence of which he would serve half.

The Official Everton Podcast is also available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.

Or search 'Everton' on your usual podcast app. To learn more about the Official Everton Podcast, click here.

Everton - Howard's Way tells the full story of Howard Kendall's glorious trophy-winning team in the 1980s and tales from Merseyside during that era.

All proceeds from the documentary will go to fund The People's Place, Everton's purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park.

Click here for details of how to watch Howard's Way.