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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 UEFACups.

 

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 peakand 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.

 

 

Date of Birth: 04/08/57

Nationality: Scottish

Postition: Midfield

Games: 108

Goals: 42

ClubHons (Lpool): League Championship 1983/84, 85/86

Int Hons: 29 Scotland caps

Other Clubs: Ipswich Town(three spells), Middlesbrough

wark_john_profile.jpg
John WARK 1984-88

 

 


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I didnt see Wark at hid peak just thevlste part of his career . Always looked at player even then. Seems to be one of them really good forgotten players.

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I don't remember too much about him except I know there were games I went to when he played and the crowd had it in for him.  At least they did in the Kemlyn where I was sat.  He used to take some serious stick for some reason.

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He was my favourite player at the time, but wasn't universally loved as he wasn't a great midfielder, and often didn't contribute much in that regard, but he knew where the goal was did Johnny.

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From what I remember he was a great goalscorer but technically wasn't the best for centre mid, seemed at the time a strange signing for us as he wasn't the sort of typical Liverpool player.

Couldn't fault his goalscoring though as he was phenomenal, although I did have the misfortune of going to Goodison at the end of the 85 season with Everton champions and Wark probably took one of the worst pens I have ever seen in a 1 0 defeat....

I think it nearly took out a toffee girl by the corner flag it was that bad....

Also remember him breaking his leg and the Kop singing "John can't Wark" "John can't Wark".

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When he was fit his stamina was  phenomenal, thus prompting many  excitable pre-sports science newspaper stories about how his secret was eating lots of bananas and sleeping through most of the day after training. 

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Was a bit of a "cheater" in that he kept it very simple and got into the box leaving a lot for his partner in MF to do. However his goalscoring record for Ipswich and us is exceptional. He played until his late 30s with Ipswich at sweeper/centre half and seemed to be a better footballer than I remembered with us.

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John Wark was a very good footballer. I don't think he got the support that he might have done, partly because he'd made his name at a rival club - he's a bit of a legend a Portman Road - and partly because he wasn't Graeme Souness. But an excellent player all the same, although I hadn't realized that he'd scored quite as many goals as that for us in the relatively few games that he played. That's a return that many strikers would be happy with. 

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