Ward: Not Celebrating Goals Another Protocol We'll Have to Get Used To
Friday, 15th Jan 2021 13:07
Stephen Ward believes every player has a responsibility to fall in line with the government’s request for goal celebrations to be a lot more subdued during the Covid pandemic.
The experienced defender is taking a realistic view of the situation, fearing that if players don’t take heed it could lead to football being halted, which he admits is the last thing he wants to see happen.
Ward said: “It’s an instinctive thing to celebrate when you score, of course it is. In the heat of battle, when a goal goes in, your mind can be elsewhere.
“It can be a sense of relief that you’ve got back into a game or that you’ve managed to take the lead in a game you are dominating.
“But it is what it is and we want football to continue. We follow stringent protocols at the training ground in terms of distancing.
“We’re not allowed in the building – it’s certain numbers in certain areas – and we’ve got used to that, so it’s just another thing that we need to be aware of.
“If the government are asking us to do it in order for football to continue then it’s something that we as players have to take responsibility for.
“We need to think ahead and I’m sure it will be something that the manager will be mentioning to the lads before the game tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll get a couple of goals and the senior players will be reminding the lads.
“It is our responsibility. There are a lot of people out there who are suffering at the minute – they can’t work or they have to work from home and they can’t see members of their family like grandparents – so something as small as being a bit more sensible when you’re celebrating a goal is something we need to follow as best we can.
“We want to keep football going and continuing to try to provide entertainment for people stuck in the house and looking for a bit of joy in their lives.”
Ward, one of the eight Town players to contract the virus, is firmly in the ‘carry on playing’ camp and added: “As a footballer you want to do your job but we know it’s a really strange – and very sad – situation.
“Everyone has had to adapt and we are going through some pretty severe protocols to make sure our games can go ahead.
“What we know as players, and it’s throughout the whole football world, is that people sitting at home during lockdown have been grateful to be able to watch football.
“I was glad to be able to do it myself, along with my son, when I was self-isolating after I had Covid.
“We want to bring some joy to people who may be struggling at the minute in what is a very difficult time for them.
“It’s all in the hands of the government but as long as it’s regarded as safe we want to play and I hope the fans who watch the games are getting something from it in the way of entertainment.
“It’s difficult for the fans and I feel for them in a way. We want to be higher up in the league and we want to perform better.
“It’s hard for the fans because there’s no interaction with us. They can’t come to the games to cheer us on and that makes it difficult for supporters of all teams.
“At the end of the day they are entitled to their opinions on how we’re doing but, more than anyone, we know ourselves that we’re not where we want to be. It hurts us as much as anyone.
“We appreciate the support the fans are giving us, albeit from afar, and it has been difficult not having a big crowd at Portman Road. Teams have been coming here and making it a hostile environment.
“But we have to deal with it because it’s not going to change anytime soon. Our young players have been asked to do more than they may have envisaged or been prepared for.
“They’ve had to come into the side because of the injuries we’ve had and there have been times when we’ve had some really young teams going out there on a Saturday.
“They’ve been a credit the way they have given it everything on the training ground and in games. They are learning every day and they are only going to get better and better. It’s a massive thing for the club to have so many young players coming through.
“But the return this week of so many senior players from injury is going to make us all better. There’s massive competition for places all over the pitch and it means that everyone has to be on their game if they’re going to stay in the team.”
Turning to his own form in what is his first season as a Town player following his arrival on a free transfer in the summer following his release by Stoke, Ward continued: “Up to last Saturday I felt I had been pretty solid but maybe not getting forward as much, for whatever reason, as I was earlier in the season.
“Other than maybe the win at Plymouth, I think as a team we have fallen away in terms of how dominant we were earlier in the season. But sometimes you just have to dig in, make sure you are defending well first and foremost.
“That was something that really disappointed us against Swindon last Saturday. We didn’t get close enough to them and we didn’t defend as a 10 or as an 11 as well as we can do.
“We also know we need to create more and that’s something that over the past few weeks I haven’t been able to do as much as I would have liked.
“The good thing is that a lot of the players who are coming back from injury are the type who can create things for us and get us up the pitch.
“Hopefully that will make a difference, not only for me but the whole team and our performances, starting this weekend.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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