Derby dream set to come true for Pompey fan Ward

Joel Ward in action against Coventry
Joel Ward in action against Coventry
Lee Bowyer.

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He’s grown up a Pompey fan and witnessed the intensity of a south coast derby from the stands.

He’s a player who knows exactly what it means to the Fratton faithful to have bragging rights over the club’s local rivals.

Now Joel Ward is set to have the dream of every follower of the star and crescent come true – stepping out into the intensity of battle with the Blues’ fiercest opponents.

It’s an occasion the Emsworth-born talent would have played out with pals in kickarounds as a youngster.

And now the 22-year-old is hopeful of tasting the white-hot atmosphere of a meeting between Pompey and Southampton for the first time.

Ward has looked on as supporters were sent into dreamland by the past two demolition derby wins.

They have their place etched firmly in Fratton folklore as never-to-be-forgotten moments in the club’s history.

Now Ward is gunning to write his own positive chapter in the Blues’ annals on Sunday.

‘This is hopefully going to be my first derby,’ said Ward, as he looked ahead to the clash all Pompey fans have been counting down to.

‘It’s a big game and I can’t wait for it.

‘I want to get one over them, obviously, being a local boy.

‘It’s going to be good and I’m really looking forward to it.

‘I was in the stands the last time we played them.

‘In fact, I’ve been there every time we’ve played them in recent years.

‘So I know what those games were like and want to keep the winning streak going.’

The derby returns to Fratton Park on Sunday for the first time since 2005.

Lomana Lualua was the two-goal hero that day, as Harry Redknapp rode a gauntlet of hate on his return to the club as Southampton boss.

The 4-1 loss handed Redknapp’s side a thumping they never recovered from, as they were later relegated from the top flight.

Now Ward can’t wait to sample the Fratton bearpit as a player.

The occasion is going to be a new one for many of the current Pompey squad, undoubtedly one they will remember.

Ward explained the newer faces are acutely aware of what the game means to those who follow the club, though.

He said: ‘The atmosphere is going to be great.

‘Hopefully, there won’t be any trouble on the day, though.

‘I’m sure the fans will focus on getting behind us and making it as loud as possible.

‘This is the one the fans want to win and it means a lot to them. But for both the fans and for us as a team, it’s a big occasion.

‘We want to make sure we come out on top for them.

‘We are going to be giving everything to make sure that happens.’