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Sports journalist who served in army with Liverpool ‘keeper dies at 65

Mike WardA former regional daily sports journalist who served in the Rhodesian Army alongside former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar has died aged 65.

Tributes have been paid to Mike Ward, left, who reported on the fortunes of West Bromwich Albion Football Club for the Birmingham Post, as well as covering other sports such as tennis.

Born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Mike spent two years in the African nation’s army where he rose to the position of platoon commander and counted Grobbelaar among his comrades.

He died in hospital after developing septicaemia from an infected hand wound.  An inquest will be held into his death.

Mike began his career at the Rhodesia Herald before moving to England, where he worked ons the Hereford Times before getting a job at the Post in 1977.

While serving as the Post’s tennis correspondent he was granted the rare luxury of a Centre Court press box seat at Wimbledon – a privilege granted to very few journalists on regional papers.

He also covered the West Midlands’ top football teams, with particular focus on Albion.

Mike retired in 2002 after 25 years with the Post and lived in the Teme Valley, in Worcestershire, until his death six days short of his 66th birthday.

An obituary on the Post’s website reads: “[Mike] was an ‘old school journalist’ even among old school journalists.

“He was a fine writer who never shirked the often thankless task of extracting proper, quotable responses from those reluctant to answer questions.

“Two years of army service back home in his native Rhodesia had prepared him to encounter opponents a lot more awkward than he ever had to deal with in print, here in the Midlands, where he eventually made his home.”

Mike is survived by wife Rachel, and children Olivia and Henry.