How many times have you heard it said that goalscoring is all about being in 'the right place at the right time. Most footballers know where the right 'place' is, but relatively few can sense when the time is 'right'. John Wark has great timing. You could set your watch by him. Bobby Robson often uses an old expression to describe instinctive goal poachers. He calls them 'Johnnies on the Spot'. I'm sure he coined the phrase after watching Johnny Wark arrive 'on the spot' time after time during their days together at lpswich.
John is like a magicians apprentice in reverse. Instead of 'now you see him, now you don't.... it's now Wark is nowhere to be seen, now he’s scored!'. He has you wondering whether or not he has access to a secret network of tunnels under the pitch. He just pops up through a trap door beneath the penalty spot, leaving defenders looking at each other saying, 'where the heck did he come from?'
In 1980, Terry McDermott became the first Double Footballer of year. He scored 14 goals from midfield in an exciting season which saw us win the league and reach two Cup finals. John knocked in 27 in his first full season for us outscoring even Ian Rush but there were no trophies and no awards.
There are a lot of similarities between them. John has never had Terry's power of shot, anymore than Terry would have headed as many goals as John does. But the common denominator is a striker's goal return from a midfield position. In truth, if their scoring records were no better than average, you would not be getting your money's worth from them. Injuries have hampered John’s progress at Liverpool, but not as much as the changing of personnel and shape of the side. He is a perfect illustration of my constant theme about assembling a team of imperfect players who compliment each other perfectly. Unless he is surrounded by team mates who recognise his strenghts and cover for his weaknesses, his special goal scoring ability will go largely untapped. He needs to to be in the right place at the right time!
Copyright - Clive Tyldesley from his book "Bob Paisley's personal view of the First Team Squad of 1986-87".
"Bob had taken over from this God-like man Bill Shankly. Bob got used to the job and his association with Geoff Twentyman to bring in talented kids paid dividends and another man who was important to Bob Paisley was Tom Saunders. He confided in him with whom he was going to replace Kevin Keegan with in '77. It transformed the club again. He was never afraid. What I liked about Bob that he was never afraid to break up a winning formula. Whatever he achieved he was always looking to strengthen. We knew we were going to get a new face in pre-season. I signed in October. Ray Kennedy had been brought in the summer as Bill Shankly's last signing. Terry Mac came after me. An established player in midfield, runs ahead of the ball. Then there would be another one before the end of the season, usually before March. That was the pattern every year. Whatever you won you knew somebody was going to come in and take your place. You could either stay and fight or as I saw other people just leave. Joey Jones left when Alan Kennedy arrived. Soon as Ray Clemence knew Brucie was in the frame he was off. Steve Nicol was bought in '81. He was after my shirt. They brought Souness in, the team got better. Lawrenson came in, you're getting better. He used to bring in good people. They were not fly-by-knights which was an expression Bob used to use. They'll be focused."
Phil Neal in an exclusive interview with LFChistory.net