Author Topic: John Wark  (Read 14270 times)

Offline Mutton Geoff

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John Wark
« on: February 20, 2013, 12:40:10 pm »
Unsung Heroes  John Wark
http://www.liverpoolfc.com/history/past-players/john-wark

John Wark burst unto the scene in 1975. The 18-year-old was a part of Ipswich's successful youth team and the centre-half who had been fifth choice at the beginning of the season, was by now starring in the first team. He later developed into a free-scoring midfielder playing 384 matches and scoring 136 goals in his first spell at the club. Wark was a master of arriving late in the box and striking with precision. He was already a star, being crowned PFA's player of the year in Ipswich's successful UEFA cup-winning 1980-81 season.

Wark made a high-profile move to Anfield with the impending departure of inspirational skipper Graeme Souness, Wark's great experience and impressive goalscoring record 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.
Wark was Liverpool's leading goalscorer with 27 goals in his first season. He scored 18 goals in 40 league games, continued his incredible striking rate in Europe, scoring five in nine games, four in seven FA cup games, netted three hat-tricks and scored his 100th league goal in a game, incidentally enough against Ipswich. Wark played a total of 62 games that season, but it ended in tragedy. Wark was no. 11 in Liverpool's starting line-up that fateful night at Heysel, when Liverpool had hoped to win the European cup for the second year running. Injuries ruined his double 1985-86 season, he had a lot of niggly ones but a broken leg in March meant the end of further glory and missing out on the World cup in Mexico. The emergence of Jan Molby restricted his chances further, settling in while Wark was out injured. He only started 12 games in 1986-87 and halfway through the magical 1987-88 season he was on his way back to Ipswich. Wark moved back to his old position as centre-half at Ipswich, and then moved to Middlesbrough after being voted the club's player of the year in two successive seasons. Wark returned "home" one year later for his third spell and played 6 more years until his retirement at 40.

Bob Paisley has the last word:
"How many times have you heard it said that goalscoring is all about being in 'the right place at the right time. Most footballers know where the right 'place' is, but relatively few can sense when the time is 'right'. John Wark has great timing. You could set your watch by him."

Other Clubs:
Ipswich, Ipswich (2), Middlesbro, Ipswich (3)

I remember John as someone you could easily take for granted, he quietly and efficiently did his job in fact sometimes you didnít notice him much until he ghosted in and scored for us.
I think he suffered a bit at first for not being Souness, he wasnít quite as hard or as effective but the level Souness was on was his alone in those days.
 For me John was like a number of the team not an artist but a hard working artisan who put in the spadework to allow the artists to do their stuff. The fact that he scored the most goals in one season would come as a shock to many who didnít see him play.
He for me is very similar to players like Craig Johnstone, Brian Hall etc, bring them in and you can rely on them to fit in seamlessly into the side and do a job but also not complaining when they are not playing in the team.
I have to admit I have always admired the artists in our teams but I tend to sway towards the unsung artisans who seldom get the praise but often endure the brickbats.
He was though in all honesty not as good an actor as Souness, Johnís Escape to Victory effort was poor in comparison.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/PP8XzFOB2nw?hl=en_GB&amp;amp;version=3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/PP8XzFOB2nw?hl=en_GB&amp;amp;version=3</a>
A Wark hat trick in a European Game

you could say John was really the first doing the Poznan.

( for the history board please)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 03:28:53 pm by SP »
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Offline AJL

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 12:45:45 pm »
I was lucky enough to meet John about 3 years ago and spend the afternoon having a beer with him and his/my mate, really nice fella.  I bumped into him again about 6 weeks later and he shouted to me across the bar I was in with my mates which was quite humbling that he'd even remembered me let alone my name.

Nice fella
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Offline El Lobo

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 12:52:09 pm »
He's a player I've really enjoyed reading about and watching old 'clips' of.

I'm 27 so I only properly remember him in the mid 90's at Ipswich as a CB, and that he looked a bit of a scruff in the Panini sticker books. That and he was part of an Ipswich side beaten 9-0 by Man United. Never in a million years did I think this bloke not only played for us, but scored a shit load of goals for us. But he did!
If he's being asked to head the ball too frequently - which isn't exactly his specialty - it could affect his ear and cause an infection. Especially if the ball hits him on the ear directly.

Offline pooley

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 01:01:10 pm »
I used to see Warky  regularly when he played for us. He was very friendly with a good mate of mine. He is indeed a very nice bloke, and he used to put the ale away like there was no tomorrow. He would be on it most days after training would down buckets of lager, seeing everybody else off and would end up last man standing looking none the worse. Didn't seem to effect his game though!
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Offline theboyspen

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2013, 01:04:33 pm »
Saw a guy in our local gym who was the spit of him (muzzy an' all)
I just looked at him thinking "It's you isn't it?"
But then I realized how dodgy it looks staring at a guy with a muzzy in a gym!
 :o
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Offline AJL

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2013, 01:06:50 pm »
spend the afternoon having a beer with him and his/my mate, really nice fella. 

he used to put the ale away like there was no tomorrow.

 :hally  :duh  :puke2

Just as I remember.........
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Offline Les Willis

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2013, 01:26:47 pm »
I always rated him highly for Ipswich (and Scotland) and was chuffed when we signed him. He always seemed to be a model pro in an old school type of way. He's one of those players though that I associate with another club (ie: Ipswich) rather than being one of ours, for some reason. Maybe it's because of that that he's an unsung hero.

Offline TLW 84

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2013, 02:13:49 pm »
For some reason I remember him playing as a number 7 or filling in for Kenny. He seemed to slot in easily anyway and was a real Liverpool player.

Offline The 5th Benitle

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2013, 02:14:45 pm »
My earliest memories of watching us play all involve John Wark - seemed a real battler. Could do with him now to be honest.

Offline MNAA

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2013, 02:55:56 pm »
Signing Wark was a shock to me. Ipswich was still formidable though their best days (of Cooper, Burley, Mills, Osman, Butcher, Thijssen, Muhren, Gates, Mariner, Brazil and of course Wark) were long gone by then.

Though Wark of Liverpool was probably not Wark of Ipswich season 80/81, he still single-handedly carried the our team in 84-85 - a team adjusting to the lost of Souness, Molby in transition and finding his feet, Dalglish kind of on the wane and Rush affected by injuries early on.

One of the best goalscoring midfielders around ever. We took him for granted because we were so loaded all over the park. We certainly can do with a John Wark today.

Thanks for the write-up ...

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Offline LincsRedbob

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2013, 03:01:22 pm »
Played really well in Escape to Victory think he set one up
Fought them all the way. Proud to be amongst some great supporters.

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Offline Gnurglan

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2013, 03:05:07 pm »
That post makes me feel old. I can remember him playing for Ipswich. And somewhere I probably still have him on one of those football cards we traded in school. On that he's most likely wearing the Ipswich jersey. Didn't get to watch him play a lot. Games were not easily accessible back then. So for me he's very much an unsung hero. Will have to read and catch up in this thread.

Btw, I love the Paisley quote!

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Offline MassDriver

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2013, 03:12:53 pm »
Very informative post mate. Love these pieces about past players, especially ones from that long ago.

Wayyyy before my time though.  ;D
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2013, 03:20:29 pm »
oh yeah when central midfielders could defend and get forward and score goals in equal measure. i remember that

Offline Spartacus.

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2013, 04:03:37 pm »
My earliest memories of watching us play all involve John Wark - seemed a real battler. Could do with him now to be honest.

I've just made the same point in a different thread, feel that's something missing in our current squad. We've got to be able to mix it up, I don't want a team of thugs but want the opposition players to know they've been in a battle when it's needed, we can get bullied out of games too easily.
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Offline El Ninos Black Eye

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2013, 05:46:13 pm »
Played really well in Escape to Victory think he set one up
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Offline Zlen

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2013, 05:48:30 pm »
Like reading threads like this, too young to really remember him playing for LFC though.
Thanks for writing it up mr geoff.

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2013, 06:08:15 pm »
Great player, but somehow managed to look a scruff in a footy kit.
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Offline richmond-red

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2013, 06:15:52 pm »
I remember him taking a hell of a shot right in his family jewels! He was down for a while getting attention and when he got back on his feet, the Kop chanted his name in a high falsetto!

Offline jaffod

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2013, 06:31:44 pm »
I remember seeing him and his family in McDonald's in town when we were on our Chrimbo night out in about '85 or '86. He was inside and we were all outside and I can still see the bemused look on his face as he was given dogs abuse by the reds and blues alike. Maybe he was going through a patch of poor form at the time but he took some fearful stick and I have to admit he was far from my favourite player despite all the goals he scored.
 Fast forward 25 years and we were on another Chrimbo night out in town and lo and behold who do we happen to be standing next to at the bar but a baldy-headed John Wark. I didn't mention the McNasty's incident for fear of being glassed but he did say one of the highlights of playing for us was scoring against the mancs. Seemed a friendly enough bloke.

Offline john_mac

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2013, 06:37:11 pm »
I thought he was a great player for Ipswich, was with a load of there's travelling to Alkmaar, they loved him. Was made up when we signed him 84, was bought as a replacement for Souness though, and he was never that.

I never really rated him at Liverpool too much, his style never suited Rush or Dalglish for me.

Was a boss fella though, sorted us with tickets for the FA Cup game at Luton when they banned the away fans.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 07:40:09 pm by john_mac »
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Offline Tony19:6

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Offline andy in warrington

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2013, 08:40:18 pm »
Wark was reputed to be not very well endowed and went by the dressing room nickname, little acorn.
His best days were at Ipswich, and I associate him more with them than Liverpool.

Offline unusg

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2013, 08:59:59 pm »
if he was good enough for Joe Fagan he was good enough for me

May be i am looking back with rose tinted specs but i recall him being a hell of goalscorer for us over the first 18 months until he had some major injuries. the problem was he didnt suit our style of play but kept getting picked because he did the simple things right and got on the end of or our attacking play more often than not.

He would be considered a serious talent nowadays given the lack of forward runs midfielders seem to make into the box.


Offline Warks Moustache

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2013, 10:03:26 pm »
My fathers favourite player (and hence the inspiration for my username). While I can't profess to have seen him play, he seemed to be that rare mix of battling midfielder yet also a consistent goal threat. the modern game has become so specialized that its hard to think of a current day analogue.

My dad always said the 4 years he spent at Liverpool were far too short.

Offline Warks Moustache

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2013, 10:05:03 pm »
if he was good enough for Joe Fagan he was good enough for me

May be i am looking back with rose tinted specs but i recall him being a hell of goalscorer for us over the first 18 months until he had some major injuries. the problem was he didnt suit our style of play but kept getting picked because he did the simple things right and got on the end of or our attacking play more often than not.

He would be considered a serious talent nowadays given the lack of forward runs midfielders seem to make into the box.

The injuries surely paid a massive toll, 70 odd league appearances over a 4 year spell is criminally low considering his undisputed talent. In terms of the playing style, when a player scores a goal every 3ish games from midfield is a consistency that you simply cannot afford to drop
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 10:09:23 pm by Warks Moustache »

Offline fuzzball

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2013, 10:07:24 pm »
ah yes, i remember imitating him playing footie out the back . world cup 82 for scotland.
every shot was followed by a mandatory fuck/spit routine. i was 8.
did alright when he joined pool

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2013, 10:08:54 pm »
Cracking player, badly under-utilised though.
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2013, 10:10:31 pm »
Always enjoyed watching him play and was made up when we signed him. I have to say though that I think he played his best football at Ipswich.
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Offline gazzam1963

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2013, 10:17:16 pm »
Went off him after this article.
 http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2009/04/16/john-wark-s-big-fear-i-may-not-get-a-game-for-liverpool-100252-23401159/2/

You would be going off a lot of that team if you knew who was also  involved selling them ! pretty widespread in them days

Offline Tony19:6

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2013, 10:32:33 pm »
You would be going off a lot of that team if you knew who was also  involved selling them ! pretty widespread in them days
Doesnt make it right tho does it?

He used that story to promote his book to boot.
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2013, 10:54:52 pm »
As a kid I had a poster of him.
With his moustache I always thought he should've been in a spaghetti western !
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2013, 08:56:42 am »
Great this mate, thanks. I loved him for Scotland. Particularly this goal, in which he ran on to a Dalglish flick on and slammed it into the roof of the net from 20 yards. He was the top scorer in European Comps for a while during the early 80s eh? Teams couldn't pick him up.


Offline Mutton Geoff

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2013, 09:38:20 am »
yeah Roy i agree about the teams couldn't pick him up, he was the type of player that you thought doing ok in the game nothing special and then he would pop up and score and at first it was where did he come from.  i have always liked players like Wark who maybe were not the glamour players or a fashionable hero in our teams. I like workers and  journeymen he was certainly a worker.
 I agree his best years were maybe for Ipswich but when  a lad in midfield is the seasons top goal scorer for us, he deserves a mention.
His other credentials for me are he is a Celt and enjoys a pint. Also agree with Leo he was a scruffy bugger on the pitch but suited the shirt far more than some that came along later .

(Thanks also to whoever embedded the Poznan goals for me, not techy enough for that yet.)
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #34 on: February 21, 2013, 10:07:22 am »
As a kid I had a poster of him.
With his moustache I always thought he should've been in a spaghetti western !

Or a Bollywood movie?  ;D

Great write up Geoff. I didn't see much of John when younger (mainly due to his injuries) but he had an unforgettable tash  :)
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Offline LFCDad

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #35 on: February 21, 2013, 10:13:42 am »
lampard is  modern day version of John
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2013, 02:31:39 pm »
he was a bit before my time. always seemed strange how he wasnt highly rated at Liverpool yet in 108 games he scored 42, thats a very impressive rate especially for someone who isnt a striker

i loved watching re runs of his goal against United in 86
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Offline Mutton Geoff

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2013, 03:21:56 pm »
lampard is  modern day version of John

Similar in the way you dont notice Lampard much till he scores.
Although John never took the pens for us.
Harinder many of us in the crowd had unforgettable tashes as well. ;D
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Re: John Wark
« Reply #38 on: February 21, 2013, 03:29:20 pm »
That's a great write up Geoff. Thank you.

Had the pleasure of sitting next to him at a fundraiser thing with loads of ex-reds. One legend to a table. We were buying rounds between us.

I ended up hammered and fell asleep on his shoulder. Absolute gent of a fella.
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Offline paulrazor

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Re: John Wark
« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2013, 03:42:13 pm »
Similar in the way you dont notice Lampard much till he scores.
Although John never took the pens for us.
Harinder many of us in the crowd had unforgettable tashes as well. ;D
think 86/7 he took a few pennos

think he even got 2 in one match. edit : http://www.liverweb.org.uk/season.asp?season=198687

just the one, got mixed up as he scored 2 in one game, one of which was a penalty. Big Jan took over then
« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 03:44:59 pm by HELLRAZOR »
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR