Town players hoping for Wark knowledge
IPSWICH are sending their players to finishing school!And the man they have selected to teach today's stars about the art of scoring is Town legend John Wark.
By Mel Henderson
IPSWICH are sending their players to finishing school!
And the man they have selected to teach today's stars about the art of scoring is Town legend John Wark.
It is a novel initiative by new boss Jim Magilton aimed at increasing the goals input in the new Championship season.
Last season, when they finished a lowly 15th in the table, they managed just 53 goals in 46 games - fewer even than Crewe, who made the drop.
Former Scotland star Wark is the ideal tutor, having netted well over 200 times in a glittering career that included three spells at Portman Road, as well as stints with Liverpool and Middlesbrough in between.
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Wark first joined the club straight from school in his native Glasgow in 1973 and went on to score 179 goals in his 679 games for Ipswich.
It was a phenomenal record for a midfielder-cum-defender that marked him down as one of the greatest stars in the club's history.
Only one player, Mick Mills, played more games for the club and only two, Championship-winning heroes Ray Crawford and Ted Phillips, scored more goals.
Wark, who will be 49 on Friday, said: “To start with I will be going into the training ground one day a week to work with the lads.
“We'll see how it goes from there. I might be getting on a bit now but at least I'm still capable of showing them how it's done.
“There's an art to putting the ball in the net and Jim believes I have something to offer in this area.
“To be honest I was a bit surprised when he mentioned it, but delighted at the same time. Everyone knows Ipswich are my club and I would do anything to help.”
The pair go back a long way, to Magilton's apprentice days at Liverpool more than 20 years ago when they struck up a friendship that is stronger than ever today.
Wark added: “Jim and I hit it off when he was a kid at Anfield. He used to clean my boots and do other odd jobs.
“I would look after him with a bung at Christmas. I remember Jim hanging about waiting for it - he wasn't earning as much in those days!”
But this is no old pals' act, as Wark was quick to emphasis. He added: “It's about helping Ipswich next season.
“I'll be looking to do something, no matter how small, that might make a difference. More goals should mean more points and a better place in the league.”
Wark has remained active since his pro career ended nine years ago, in particular through his involvement with the Liverpool Masters side.
He helped them to a 4-3 win over Manchester United in an 11-a-side game on the Isle of Man on Saturday.
Then he flew back yesterday to take part in last night's indoor tournament screened live on Sky Sports.
He also runs a local Sunday team, SophtLogic, in which he features regularly among the goals.
Previously chief scout at Portsmouth and Coventry, he will also continue with his regular role as a match-day host at Portman Road.