JOE WARK

 

Born in Glasgow 9th October 1947, died in Stonehouse on 1st October 2015, aged 67.

One of Motherwell's greatest servants was signed from Irvine Vics in April 1968, as a left half.   It says much for both player, and the proving ground of Ayrshire Junior football, that he played in every one of Motherwell's games in his debut season, scoring 8 times in 36 League matches, as he helped them towards the Second Division championship.   Three of the goals came in the home match against Montrose.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
His debut in the Claret and Amber was as memorable as his overall career with the club.   After three minutes of the pre-season friendly against Tranmere Rovers, he took over from the injured Keith McRae in goal - and kept a clean sheet.
 
Naturally fit, and well built (11st 8) for his 5ft 9" height. Wark moved to left back for Motherwell's return to the First Division, where he remained for the next 15 seasons.   It was an interesting, rather than successful, spell in the club's history.   Good players were fielded by a succession of managers, attractive football was played, and the club were enthusiastic participants in the Texaco Cup, and its successor the Anglo Scottish Cup.
 
There were several cup runs, with semi final appearances in the Scottish Cup in 1975 (defeat to Airdrie) and 1976 (to Rangers), and five quarter finals.  Those were cruel defeats for Motherwell, the first after a replay, the second after conceding a two goal lead, and then a very controversial third goal from a disputed penalty award.   In the League Cup, Motherwell reached the semi final in 1968/69 only to lose to St Johnstone.    He was capped for the Scottish League against the Football League in March 1976, the last of that long line of representative fixtures which the Scots lost 1-0 at Hampden.
 
Despite Wark's best endeavours, there were no cup final appearances, nor European football; Motherwell's highest finish of 4th in the inaugural season of the Premier Division saw the UEFA Cup places go elsewhere.   He played in 330 of the 344 league games in that spell, which ended with Motherwell falling from 6th place to 10th (bottom) in 1978/9. 
 It took them three seasons to escape from the First Division, as Champions in 1981/82, and it was entirely fitting that Joe Wark's last dozen League appearances for the club, spread across the next two seasons, were in the top division. 
 
He enjoyed two Testimonial matches.  The first, against a star-studded West Bromwich Albion, was lost 8-1.   As this writer left Fir Park that evening on the final whistle, a 'Well fan shouted "They've let you down again, Joe," which was a fitting testimony to a career that should have been rewarded with more medals.   His second benefit match came in 1985, when Motherwell fared better against a Rangers and Celtic select.  By then Joe had left Fir Park, following another relegation in 1984.
 
Approaching his 37th birthday, he wasn't ready to hang up his boots, and he was player-manager at Benburb before coaching young Motherwell players.  He worked for the Youth Training Scheme then ran a licenced grocers in Wishaw, and his final job was with office water coolers.   As a young part-time footballer, he worked in the Cremola dessert factory in Glasgow.   His last five years were blighted by Alzheimers.
 
Statistics alone do not do justice to Joe Wark's service to Motherwell, although they are rather impressive.  Over 16 seasons, he played in 464 League matches, 79 League Cup ties, 37 Scottish Cup ties, and 29 times in the Texaco/Anglo Scottish Cups - a total of 609 competitive games.   He scored 18 goals.
 
Motherwell fans will remember the clean-tackling, neat footballer who wore the No.3 jersey with such longevity and distinction, in a manner that few have matched in the club's long history.
 
-o0o-
 
Former Hearts player PATRICK BEGLEY died in hospital on 7th December 2015, aged 35.   He signed for Hearts in August 1997 from Ratho Colts, but his football career was cut short the following year when he sustained severe head injuries in a car crash.
 
-o0o-
 
JAMES P BARCLAY, former Grade One referee based in Kirkcaldy, died at West Park Nursing Home, Leslie on 2nd July 2015, aged 94.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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50 YEARS OF SCOTTISH FOOTBALL

 

THIRD LANARK HISTORY

 

VALE OF LEVEN HISTORY

 

FOOTBALL' S WHITE FEATHERS (World War 1 & Scottish Football)

 

SCOTTISH CUP FINALS

 

RAITH  ROVERS HISTORIES

 

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A RECORD OF PRE-WAR
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PRE-WAR SCOTTISH LEAGUE RESULTS, SCORERS, ATTENDANCES

 

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SCOTTISH FOOTBALL HISTORIAN
e-zine Winter 2015/16   Issue 136
 
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