John Wark – Ipswich Town Legend

John Wark

Ipswich Town Legend John Wark

For a club that has many players who legitimately fit into the status of legend, John Wark is without doubt someone sat, if not at the top of the tree, then certainly very near to it.

His remarkable career was characterized – as well as by his trademark moustache – by an incredible versatility (John would play in practically every outfield position during his days at Town) and a remarkable goal scoring record.

Considering he spent most of his time in midfield (and defence), his return of 174 goals from 669 games is almost unmatched in the modern game.

His signature late runs into the box were a constant scourge of defences across the land, and a delight for his adoring fans.

Though he had a fairly successful international career, and a memorable spell at Liverpool (scoring 42 goals in 108 appearances), it is at Ipswich that he enjoyed the best days of his career.

He signed as a pro for Ipswich on his 17th birthday, and quickly became part of the first team set up, under the watchful eyes of his great friend and mentor Bobby Robson.

It’s hard to think of an Ipswich side today troubling the bookies when it comes to winning the Premier League. BetStars now have 3rd place Huddersfield at 28/1 to win the Championship, with Ipswich not far from the relegation zone.

That wasn’t the case back then. Widely regarded as one of the best teams in Europe, Bobby Robson’s Ipswich won the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and were incredibly unfortunate not to with the league on at least one occasion – with John Wark pivotal in that success.

That period also saw Wark, along with several of his team mates make his Hollywood debut in Escape to Victory.



After his spell at Liverpool, John followed Robson’s advice to go where he would be happiest, not just where the most money was, and returned to Ipswich who were now playing in Division Two.

Despite picking up the player of the year award both seasons, he left to join Middlesbrough, though remained living in Ipswich.

After leaving the Teesside club at the end of 90/91 season, the Glaswegian was without a club and was training at Ipswich to stay fit.

Due to a number of injuries, John was signed at the start of the season, and went on to make 43 appearances and win the player of the year once again.

It was another successful season for a John Wark inspired Ipswich team, who were crowned second division champions, meaning they would be part of the inaugural Premier League.

Two successive strong starts to the season was enough to save Town from relegation in the first two seasons, (Wark picking up his fourth and record breaking player of the year award), before the club succumbed to the drop in their third year in the Premier League.

John played a bit part in the following season in league 1, and at the age of 39 played his final game as a professional against Tranmere Rovers on 30 November 1996.

He is still the third highest scorer for the club.

Since Retirement

John retired from playing professionally in 1997, though has played as an amateur for Woodbridge Town, Windsor and Eton, Soccer AM’s Badgers and the Liverpool Sky Sports Masters team.

Like many of his fellow teammates from the late 70’s and early 80’s he has stayed in Suffolk, and lives near Stowmarket, with wife Karen. He is still very much involved with the club that will always be dear to his heart.

In 2008 he worked for Radio Suffolk as a co commentator on Town games, and ever since 2009 John has worked for the corporate hospitality department at Portman Road, providing a unique insight into the games before the match, at halftime and afterwards.

A member of the Ipswich Town Hall of fame, John was also voted by the Ipswich fans, their number one all-time player as part of the PFA’s centenary celebrations in 2007.

Stats:

First spell at Ipswich 1974/75 to 1983/84

Appearances 381 (3)

Goals 136

Second Spell at Ipswich 1987/88 to 1989/90

Appearances 103 (2)

Goals 25

Third Spell at Ipswich 1991/92 to 1996/97

Appearances 185 (4)

Goals 20

Total:

League Appearances 532 (9)

League Goals 135

Other Appearances 137 (3)

Other Goals 46

Total Appearances 669 (12)

Total Goals 174

Premier League Stats:

Appearances 101

Goals 13

Assists 3

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