Tony O'Connell and Oliver Ward

What a man.

To sum him up in words, that’s pretty impossible, but here goes.

The first thing to come to mind is that he was, in Bohemian FC circles, nothing short of a revolutionary.

Before being elected to the club’s management committee in 1987 he’d been agitating for change, asking all the right questions from the back of St Peter’s Hall. Once he was on the committee, he was able to make things happen. Two years later he was Honorary Treasurer and we were somewhere new. He’d already opened the club up information-wise, the annual report suddenly full of details and reports from the individual sub-committees, no longer just an exercise in accounting. That sort of thing made a huge difference.

He was behind, well, everything, including all sorts of fundraisers. Crucially, he brought new people forward and encouraged them. Suddenly a younger generation the club had tended to take for granted as ‘just supporters’ were now actually able to get involved.

And he did so much of the hard graft himself, tackling problems, lots of them, head on, fearlessly. He did little things, he did big things, and they all made a difference.

His whole family were members: his wife, Vivienne, and daughters Monica and Melanie – three of the first seven women to become full members – and of course his son, Michael. This was all pretty much unheard of until then. Indeed, changing the club’s articles so that women could join was one of the first things Oliver pioneered.

His enthusiasm was infectious. He got people to do things and it was very hard not to find yourself suddenly ‘volunteered’ for something or other. Unvolunteering was trickier!

He made a few enemies, but that was only natural; he was in the business of shaking up the place, changing things, getting things done.

Yes, he was eccentric, but all the best people are, aren’t they?

As if he hadn’t done enough, to top it all he persuaded Tony O’Connell to become President in 1993, one of the most significant moments in the Club’s history. Now Bohemians really had a chance.

I remember walking out of Oriel Park back then, downhearted naturally – having just seen us ‘robbed’ of the title – only to find Oliver already working on every member he could see to lift them with the news of “O’Connell for President!”

What an amazing, amazing man, and what a mind he had, yes, pretty unfathomable it was at times!

He was an inspiration, he always will be. We were lucky to have him, to know him, to see him in action.

Oliver Ward, our most wonderful Bohemian from Castlepollard.

Please sign the book of condolences on RIP.ie.

Website by Simon Alcock