A bigger buzz than UEFA Cup

JOHN Wark played in a World Cup, a European Cup final and a UEFA Cup final, but he has no hesitation in naming Ipswich's FA Cup final win as his most memorable team moment in football.

Nick Garnham

JOHN Wark played in a World Cup, a European Cup final and a UEFA Cup final, but he has no hesitation in naming Ipswich's FA Cup final win as his most memorable team moment in football.

Wark represented Scotland in the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, was in the Liverpool side that lost 1-0 to Juventus in the 1985 European Cup final marred by the Heysel tragedy and was, of course, pivotal to Ipswich winning the 1981 UEFA Cup, when he scored 14 goals during their European campaign.

Three of his 29 Scottish caps - 26 while with Ipswich - came at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, where he scored twice against New Zealand and was in the side that lost 4-1 to Brazil after taking the lead.


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But he said: “Winning the FA Cup gave me a bigger buzz than when we won the UEFA Cup, when we had a better team. I was only 21 when we won the FA Cup, but as a team it rated as the best moment.

“I started seriously believing we might win it when we beat Millwall in the quarter-final.

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“The semi-final was a hard game. West Brom were a good side, with lots of experience, but we deserved to win.”

Wark said the disappointment of losing in the 1975 semi-final replay to West Ham at Stamford Bridge had spurred Ipswich on three years later.

“I remember some of the older players being in tears because they knew they might not get another chance, so to get another opportunity so soon maybe stood us in good stead.”

Wark was watched by about 20 of his relatives who had travelled down from Glasgow for the final.

Although Wark admits the celebrations on the Saturday night are something of a blur - “I don't remember much about it. We were still on a high and I'd had a few drinks” - he instantly recalls the return to Suffolk on the Sunday.

“We headed back down the A12 and stopped at the Army and Navy pub at Chelmsford for a couple of drinks. That just wouldn't be allowed nowadays!

“The FA Cup win was definitely the best - not just the final, but the homecoming on the Sunday. It really put us on the map.”

Wark was out of luck so far as Wembley cup finals were concerned thereafter and missed out on Liverpool's 1986 FA Cup final victory over Everton with a broken ankle.

He had left Liverpool by the time they met Wimbledon in the 1988 final, but along with several other former players was invited by manager Kenny Dalglish to be a guest of the club not only the match, but also in the team hotel.

However, the Dons pulled off one of the biggest cup final upsets in history to put a damper on the weekend for Wark, who also played at Wembley when he came on as a substitute for the final four minutes when Liverpool lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the 1987 Littlewoods Cup final.

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