Red of the Day - John Wark
by Chris Wood
Midfielder John made a high-profile move to Anfield in the Spring of 1984 after making nearly 300 League appearances for Ipswich Town, with whom he had also won the FA and UEFA Cups.
With the impending departure of inspirational skipper Graeme Souness, Wark's great experience and impressive goalscoring record while playing for the Suffolk club were no doubt seen as a way of reducing the impact of his fellow Scot's subsequent transfer to Sampdoria in Italy.
John scored on his debut at Watford and made nine First Division appearances as the championship was won for a third successive year but he was ineligible to play in the semi-final and final of the European Cup. Twenty-seven years old shortly before his first full season as a Liverpool player started, Wark should have been approaching his peak and he seemed to confirm that with 18 League goals plus a further nine in cup competitions, including a hat-trick in the home leg against Lech Poznan as Liverpool started their defence of the Champions' Cup and three more when York City were thrashed 7-0 in an FA Cup 5th round replay.
But injury and the emergence of Jan Molby restricted John to just 11 starts in the 'Double' League and FA Cup triumph of 1986 and after failing to regain a regular place in the side he rejoined his former club at Portman Road at the start of 1988.
The broken leg he suffered while at Anfield almost certainly prevented him from spending a longer period on Merseyside. Once fully-fit again, even though he was by now approaching his mid-30's, John only missed two league games in as many seasons for Ipswich at the end of the 1980's and continued his astonishing goals-per-game ratio with 26 in those two years to take his total in League matches alone for Liverpool and Ipswich close to the 150 mark, a remarkable total for a midfield player even though many of those came from the penalty-spot.
John's impressive final figures for Liverpool show 42 goals from 102 appearances in League and cup competitions.