Falmouth Town centre-back James Ward has signed a one-year contract with Truro City, ending a three-and-a-half-year stay at Bickland Park.

The 26-year-old defender will make the three-division jump from the South West Peninsula League Premier to the Southern League Premier Division South, in which the White Tigers will compete in the 2019/20 season after being relegated from the National League South last term.

The move will see Ward, who captained the Kernow Football Alliance on their international debut in May, return to Treyew Road after graduating from the club’s youth system.

Ward said on Twitter: “A club that I grew up watching as a youth team player. Really excited to get started with Truro City and see where this season takes us. Big thanks to Falmouth town for the past few years. Can’t wait to get started!”

Ward was offered professional terms at the end of his time in Truro’s youth squad, where he was a team-mate of ex-Tiger Cody Cooke, but turned it down in favour of a move abroad, spending two years in the United States where he captained Carson Newman University.

This is The West Country:

Ward (left) captained Kernow FA on their international debut against Barawa FA in May

The defender returned to the UK in 2016 and arrived at Bickland Park, with Falmouth manager Andrew Westgarth signing the defender on the advice of Ward’s former youth coach and Falmouth Town icon Tommy Matthews.

“Falmouth has been a great stepping stone for me,” Ward said. “They were the only club to come in for me when I came back from the States.

“I’ve got so much respect for the fans, the backroom staff, management, players. It’s a club that will stay close to me.”

Westgarth paid tribute to his departing defender on Twitter, saying: “Delighted for Wardy. Taken Falmouth to another level and set the bar on and off the field from the minute he joined us. Great way to leave us after scoring ‘that goal’. I have no doubt he will be a success at Truro City and I wish him and the club the very best going forward.”

As well as being a strong and powerful defender, striking up a formidable central defensive partnership with Falmouth captain Joe Cooper in the last two years, Ward was often threatening at the other end of the pitch, with his aerial ability helping him to 16 goals across his 123 appearances for the Black and Ambers.

He was particularly prolific in 2017/18, scoring nine goals that season, including an impressive hat-trick of headers in a 4-0 hammering of Bodmin Town on their own turf.

This is The West Country:

Ward heads home the winning goal in April's Cornwall Senior Cup final

But his most memorable goal was his final one in a Falmouth shirt on Easter Monday, when he headed in the winning goal ten minutes from time in the Cornwall Senior Cup final against defending champions Saltash United, with Town going on to lift the trophy for the first time in 22 years.

Ward was also a member of the side that lifted the Walter C Parson League Cup 12 months ago, beating Tavistock 4-2 after extra-time to become League Cup champions for the first time since 1999.

When asked which memory would rank the highest, Ward said: “The hat-trick against Bodmin was great but it has to be the League Cup final and the Senior Cup this year. Twenty-two years in the making and popping up with the winner in the 80th minute, it will go down in the club’s history.”

Ward will only have to wait a few weeks before being reunited with his former Falmouth team-mates, with Town to visit Treyew Road to take on Truro in the annual Aubrey Wilkes Cup match on Tuesday, July 23 (kick-off 7.30pm).

“The F-Troop will give me some light-hearted banter but it’s all in good will and I will play with a smile on my face,” he said.