Here we interview the prolific goalscoring midfielder about the book;
Where did the idea come from to write your autobiography?
Myself and Mel Henderson (collaborative writer) had been thinking about it pretty much since I retired in 1996! It just felt that the time was right was to get it all down ‘“ especially while people still seem to know who I am!!
Some authors have struggled to write their autobiography, and some have given up in the process. Have you enjoyed writing Wark On?
We had a great time doing the book, very enjoyable. Mel and I have known each other for a long time and there were a lot of laughs along the way, we’d usually meet once or twice a week and it took about nine months all in all. Some of it was hard though, writing the first chapter was quite an emotional experience.
Your knowledge seems encyclopaedic at times. How have you managed to remember so many stories about your time at Ipswich, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and for Scotland.
The book covers about 36 years all in all so there’s lots of memories! I have kept scrapbooks throughout my career and Mel worked at Ipswich Town from 1978 so between us we could usually remember everything. Sometimes one of us would say something and it would trigger a whole new load of memories which was great.
You single out Sir Bobby Robson for special praise in this book. Can you provide some further words on what it was like to play under the great man at Portman Road?
Basically Bobby gave me my debut at 17 ‘“ he was the one who had faith in me and gave me the big opportunity. When someone does that and helps look after you on and off the pitch like he did, you want to repay the faith they’ve shown in you. That’s what I wanted to do for Bobby.
You talk about the gradual process of breaking into the Ipswich Town first team. How did you maintain your motivation to break through into the first eleven?
Once you’ve had sniff of the first team you really don’t want to be playing anywhere else! I knew that there was nothing better than playing for Ipswich Town’s first team and that’s exactly where I wanted to stay.
What one match would you like to be most remember for during your three periods for Ipswich and also for Liverpool?
I guess the UEFA and FA Cup Finals stand out but for Ipswich Town it was the game against Salonika that I always remember, we won 5.1, I scored four and three of them were penalties. That’s quite a memorable one for me! In terms of Liverpool I have to say my debut against Watford. I felt a lot of pressure having moved from Ipswich and to play, and score, in a game we won was a great start.
You played with many legends during the career- many are mentioned in this book- but which player did you most fear in your professional playing career, and who was the best player you faced during your time at Ipswich and at Liverpool?
I really don’t want this to sound big-headed but I honestly didn’t fear anyone as such. Sure there were players who you knew were incredibly talented and were going to give you a tough game but I didn’t really fear them. International games were slightly different and players like Platini and Maradona were amazing talents; when I played against Maradona for Scotland I just wanted to get him off the pitch!!
You talk about your move to Liverpool, which involved a long stay in one of the city centre hotels during the early months. How easy was it for you to settle into Liverpool, after so many years at Ipswich?
Nine months in a hotel was very hard but remember that I already knew a few players such as Alan Hansen, Steve Nichol and of course Kenny Dalglish. The other factor was that everyone around the city and the Club were so friendly and helpful, that made things much easier.
What is the best goal that you have ever scored for Liverpool?
Our thanks to John for participating in the interview.