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On this day in Town’s history: Wark is a match-winner, yet again

PUBLISHED: 11:57 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:57 24 March 2020

John Wark scored the only goal of the game as Town beat Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990

John Wark scored the only goal of the game as Town beat Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990

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In our daily feature, we take a look at what happened on this day in Ipswich Town’s history, selecting one particular year – beginning with 30 years ago, and another winner from John Wark

David Lowe jumps high to register a header during Town's 1-0 win over Bradford City at Portman Road, from 30 years agoDavid Lowe jumps high to register a header during Town's 1-0 win over Bradford City at Portman Road, from 30 years ago

You could always rely on John Wark coming up with the goods, in terms of crucial goals. He had a knack of popping up, when least expected, to hit the back of the net.

That was the case 30 years ago, on March 24, 1990, when Ipswich Town secured a 1-0 home win over relegation-haunted Bradford City, in front of a modest crowd of 11,074, so gaining revenge for a 1-0 defeat suffered at Valley Parade back in October, 1989.

And that’s despite Wark, who was to celebrate his 32nd birthday 11 days later, supposedly being in the twilight of his career (he made a mockery of that assumption, by carrying on playing until late 1996).

Both Town and Bradford were in the second tier, the old Division Two, during 1989-90,

Fans pictured as Town beat Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990Fans pictured as Town beat Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990

March, 1990, was actually a very hectic month for Town, in terms of fixtures, with eight league matches crammed into the month.

And it was a very productive period for Town, with four wins recorded, along with a couple of draws and a couple of defeats.

Portman Road was a fortress in March, 1990. Having kicked off with a 2-2 draw against visiting Leicester City, there followed four home league starts and four wins, though all by the narrowest of margins – a 2-1 over Brighton, followed by three 1-0 home wins on the bounce over Oxford, Swindon and Bradford.

For the record, the month of March, 1990, also featured a goalless draw at Stoke City, and a couple of defeats at Newcastle and Plymouth.

John Wark pictured as Town beat Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990. Wark was in his second of three spells with TownJohn Wark pictured as Town beat Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990. Wark was in his second of three spells with Town

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The season as a whole was not a cracker, under boss John Duncan.

Town finished ninth in the table, one place below where they had finished in 1988-89. They were to finish 14th the following year, before clinching promotion to the Premier League as Division Two champions in 1992.

Leeds United were crowned Second Division champions that season, with Sheffield United in second and Sunderland winning the play-offs, while the other league titles went to Liverpool (First Division), Bristol Rovers (Third Division) and Exeter City (Fourth Division).

Brian Gayle leaps for a header during Town's 1-0 win over Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990Brian Gayle leaps for a header during Town's 1-0 win over Bradford City at Portman Road in March 1990

Darlington won the Conference title and so replaced rock bottom Colchester United in the Football League.

As for match-winner Wark, from that Bantams fixture of 30 years ago, the Scotsman had returned to Portman Road from Liverpool in the January of 1988, for a fee of £100,000.

The attacking midfielder (he actually started out as a full-back and centre-half in the youth team) had plundered 94 goals in 266 league games, during his first productive spell with Ipswich (1975-84), and despite his advancing years, he gave terrific service during his second spell.

In fact, Wark missed just two games in two seasons, finishing the joint top scorer in 1988-89 alongside Dalian Atkinson and Jason Dozzell.

Gavin Johnson in action as Town beat Bradford City, in 1990. Bradford were relegated from the second tier that season.Gavin Johnson in action as Town beat Bradford City, in 1990. Bradford were relegated from the second tier that season.

He scored 20 goals across those two seasons, and was named the club’s ‘Player of the Year’ on both occasions, before moving on to Middlesbrough.

Back in 1991, Wark returned to Portman Road for a much longer third spell, playing his last professional game at the age of 39.

Back in 1990, Bradford were relegated along with Stoke City and Bournemouth to the third tier.


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