Wark: Where's the hunger?

JOHN Wark, one of many international players developed through the famed Ipswich Town youth policy under Bobby Robson, today insisted that you need hunger to succeed.

Elvin King

JOHN Wark, one of many international players developed through the famed Ipswich Town youth policy under Bobby Robson, today insisted that you need hunger to succeed.

Despite winning the FA Youth Cup in 2005, the number of players recently moving successfully into adult football at Portman Road is low, and of the current crop of academy boys only Connor Wickham looks to have a serious chance of making the grade.

Wark was a member of the Ipswich 1975 FA Youth Cup-winning side. Russell Osman also went on from that team to become a full international while David Geddis and Keith Bertschin made the Town first team.

From the 1973 Town FA Youth winners George Burley and Eric Gates went on to become senior internationals and John Peddelty became an Ipswich first teamer. A number of others from both teams went on to make a living from the game.

Under Robson Ipswich played in Europe nine years out of 10 and won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup on the back of their FA Youth Cup triumphs.

Most Read

Following manager Jim Magilton's confirmation that Billy Clarke will not be offered a new contract in the summer and the expected departure of Shane Supple, Chris Casement and Liam Trotter in the close season, it will leave only Owen Garvan and Danny Haynes on Town's books from the 2005 FA Youth Cup-winning squad.

Four years ago Ipswich looked set to flourish again on the back of their talented youngsters in the same way they did under Robson 30-odd years ago.

But it has not happened that way, and Wark, who had three spells with Town and made 678 appearances and scored 179 goals, says that youngsters have to continue their desire to do well as they move into adulthood.

“You have to be hungry,” said Wark.

“You have to be determined and take your chances when they come along.

“It was in us to make the grade, but current Town youngsters appear to have found their limit. Injuries and perhaps a lack of confidence have not helped in some cases.

“It was the certainty that I was going to be given a chance at a young age that led to me joining Ipswich from school.

“And I was given my debut at 17 in a FA Cup quarter-final against Leeds United.

“I played four or five games, and at that age I could not manage any more. But when I was 18 and 19 I was ready to step up and make my mark on the first team.”

The influx of a dozen players since Magilton was handed �12million by club owner Marcus Evans to get the club into the Premier League has seen players like Trotter, Casement, Clarke and Jaime Peters disappear from the Ipswich first team scene.

Yet the team is faring no better than it did before the investment in experience.

When Joe Royle was manager he regularly had three youth players on the bench as his budget was reduced dramatically and his squad cut to the bare bones.

He still made the play-offs twice.

Magilton has been in charge for approaching three years and no home grown players have come through to make an impact - with Garvan and Haynes having made their debuts under Royle.


THE Ipswich Town FA Youth Cup-winning squad for 2005 was: Shane Supple, David Blackmore and Andy Reynolds (on trial from Lowestoft) in goal, plus Sammy Moore (now with Dover), James Krause, Chris Casement, Aidan Collins, Fraser Beveridge, Owen Garvan, Cathal Lordan (back in Ireland), Billy Clarke, Cathal Lordan, Darryl Knights, Liam Craig (back in Scotland), Fraser Beveridge, Jack Haverson, Charlie Sheringham, Danny Haynes, Liam Trotter, Michael Synnott and Ed Upson.

Clarke was injured at Tottenham in the semi-final and Garvan was ill in hospital for the home leg of the final. Town beat Southampton in the final, and they included Theo Walcott, Nathan Dyer, David McGoldrick and Gareth Bale.