John still loves playing at 50
JOHN Wark is clearly still in love with football.Not many ex-pros carry on playing past 50 - Wark not only turns out on Sundays for Ipswich Licensed Trades League side Sophtlogic, but he is manager and chairman as well!Wark, who has played in some of the greatest stadiums in the world, said: “We were playing a game at Chilton Fields in Stowmarket and someone asked: 'Where are the changing rooms?' “I had to tell them there weren't any.
JOHN Wark is clearly still in love with football.
Not many ex-pros carry on playing past 50 - Wark not only turns out on Sundays for Ipswich Licensed Trades League side Sophtlogic, but he is manager and chairman as well!
Wark, who has played in some of the greatest stadiums in the world, said: “We were playing a game at Chilton Fields in Stowmarket and someone asked: 'Where are the changing rooms?'
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“I had to tell them there weren't any. We had to change in the car!” he mused.
“I still love it. I may moan a lot, but then I think I am still playing with professionals. I still want to win, even in training.
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“Afterwards I sometimes ache like anything, but by the next day it has eased off.
“I have taken up pilates which has helped me a lot. I have never done any stretching in my life!”
Sophtlogic were in the Third Division when Wark started turning out several years ago, and they are now in their second season in the Premier Division.
Last season he lined-up for the first - and probably only - time in his career alongside nephew Scott, who is 30 years his junior.
Scott, who used to play for Rushden & Diamonds and is now with Ridgeons League side Needham Market, turned out with John in defence for Sophtlogic in the Suffolk Sunday Cup semi-final at Stowmarket Town's Greens Meadow.
“We were trailing 2-1 to Bardwell Wasps and I said to Scott: 'I am going to go up front to try to get us a goal' and he replied: 'Don't leave me, I am knackered!”
Playing Sunday football keeps him fit enough to turn out for the Liverpool Over-35s side in various Masters competitions all over the world - Dubai, Germany, Iceland and Norway - to name a few recent destinations, with and against opponents several years younger than him.
He is rightly proud of the fact he is still able to compete alongside the likes of Jason McAteer, who last season was still playing in Coca-cola League One for Tranmere, in the Liverpool side.
The fact that he has maintained a reasonably high profile since his professional career ended means he is still easily recognisable to many fans.
“It doesn't bother me. It is good when people still recognise you. When I go out shopping I still get people asking me why Ipswich can't win away from home and who are they going to buy!
“I went to Spain and there was a group of Scottish lads, who were only about 20 years old, who saw me and started shouting: 'Johnny Wark, Johnny Wark' and I get it when I go back to Liverpool and Glasgow.”
Along with Paul Goddard he had three games in temporary charge of Ipswich after John Lyall's departure in 1995 before George Burley's arrival, after which he had spells scouting for Portsmouth boss Alan Ball and Gordon Strachan at Coventry.
Wark, who lived at Bucklesham with former wife Toula from 1988 until three years ago, is now settled in Onehouse, near Stowmarket, with partner Karen. His son Andrew, who will be 25 in June, plays Sunday football and has worked largely in the pub trade since leaving school.
Wark has been involved in matchday hospitality at Portman Road since the club was in the Premiership and is looking to do more after-dinner speaking engagements after recently making his bow at West Wratting FC near Haverhill.
He is also currently writing his autobiography, which is due out in time for Christmas, in collaboration with former EADT and Evening Star journalist Mel Henderson, who was PRO at the club when Ipswich won the FA Cup.